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    Protests against Pak team in Odisha

    Bajrang Dal activists took out processions in the city and blocked roads.

    Bhubaneswar: Normal life was hit in Odisha's Cuttack as schools, colleges and shops were closed after a shutdown called by right-wing Bajrang Dal to oppose staging of a match of Pakistan's women team in the city. Majority of the private business establishments and offices were closed in the district headquarters town, about 26 km from here with "people spontaneously supporting the strike", Bajrang Dal leader Satya Mohanty told IANS.

    Bajrang Dal activists took out processions in the city and blocked roads, staged demonstrations, he said. At least 60 Bajrang Dal activists were taken into preventive custody. Police said the shutdown evoked mixed response. The government offices, banks and other financial institutions functioned as usual in the city, although schools, colleges and other educational institutions were closed, a senior district police official said.

    The International Cricket Council (ICC) Women's World Cup, commencing Jan 31, was earlier scheduled to be held in Mumbai. However, the Pakistani team's matches were shifted to Cuttack following opposition by the Shiv Sena. In Odisha too, the opposition BJP, Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and some smaller political parties have been protesting the proposed staging of matches of the Pakistani team.

    "Pakistan players would not be allowed to play anywhere in India, including in Cuttack, in view of the widespread cross-border tension," a protest leader said. He was referring to the killing of two Indian soldiers, one of whom was beheaded, along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.