Rail and road services were partially affected while shops, business establishments, private and government offices were closed in many places.

Activists of KKD, which is a political party, blocked the rail tracks, obstructed roads by burning tyres and carried out rallies in towns like Bolangir, Sambalpur, Bargarh and Rourkela, a senior state police official said.

"Rail services were hit for a while at some places but have now become normal," said Jyoti Prakash Mishra, chief public relation officer of East Coast Railway.

The Sambalpur-Puri intercity was halted for about 50 minutes at the district headquarters town of Sambalpur, about 320 km from state capital Bhubaneswar. Another passenger train was halted for about half an hour at Bargarh as demonstrators squatted on tracks, he said.

"The western region has always been neglected by both central and state government. A separate Kosala state is the only solution," said Deepak Panda, a protest leader.

"The people in Kosali region speak Kosali language. Our culture and traditions are different," he added.

The demand for separate state of Kosala picked momentum after a decision was taken to carve Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh. The Kosala Kranti Dal and several other local organizations are demanding separate statehood for 11 western districts -- Bargarh, Bolangir, Boudh, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Koraput, Nuapada, Sambalpur, Subarnapur and Sundergarh.

The region, known as Kosala, is a victim to poverty and backwardness and has a high infant mortality rate. It witnesses a large number of deaths due to malnutrition.


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