Raipur, April 8 : Life came to a virtual standstill across Chhattisgarh Thursday as the opposition Congress enforced a daylong shutdown to protest the massacre of 76 troopers by Maoist guerrillas.

People across the state also spontaneously joined the shutdown. Schools remained closed while shopkeepers downed their shutters as a mark of respect to policemen who were killed by the Maoists.

Roads wore a deserted look in the state capital Raipur and second most populous town in the state, Bilaspur. In Durg and the industrial towns of Korba, Raigarh and Bhilai, vehicles stayed off roads and petrol pumps and cinema halls were closed.

Reports from the state's Bastar region said that the shutdown hit life in all the five districts of Dantewada, Bijapur, Narayanpur, Bastar and Kanker, which are a Maoist stronghold.

Chhattisgarh Director General of Police (DGP) Vishwa Ranjan and CRPF Director General Vikram Srivastava Thursday visited the attack site in Dantewada, over 450 km south of capital Raipur.

"The cops fought bravely before being martyred and inflicted casualties on the enemy side as well," Ranjan told reporters in Jagdalpur town, headquarters of Bastar region.

"For the morale of the police, we will keep hitting the Naxal (Maoists) heartland. They (Maoists) have to pay heavily for what they have done," Ranjan added.

Police search parties recovered a few pressure bombs in Dantewada and defused these hours before the visit of the CRPF chief and the Chhattisgarh DGP.

Back in Raipur, Chhattisgarh state Congress president Dhanendra Sahu told reporters that the shutdown was called to protest the flawed policies of the state's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that resulted in the killing of 76 troopers.

About a dozen industrial organisations, including the Chhattisgarh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, had extended support to the Congress-sponsored shutdown.

Hundreds of Maoists Tuesday trapped over 80 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers on a hilly stretch in Dantewada district and went on a killing spree using pressure bombs and automatic weapons.

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