Flag march in Sambalpur, internet suspended, security tightened ahead of Hanuman Jayanti


Sambalpur: The security personnel conducted a flag march on Thursday in Odisha’s violence-hit Sambalpur city, where internet services were suspended and security tightened as the district administration geared up to organise a peaceful Hanuman Jayanti.

District collector Ananya Das, north central range IG Brijesh Ray, SP B Gangadhar along with security personnel conducted the flag march to instill confidence among the residents, who have restricted themselves indoors since Wednesday’s violence during a bike rally held ahead of the Hanuman Jayanti on Maha Bishuba Sankranti on April 14.

Ten police personnel and some civilians were injured in the clash between two communities while the bike rally was passing through a locality in the city on Wednesday.

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Violence erupted on Wednesday evening when stones were allegedly thrown at the bike rally taken out to celebrate the Hanuman Jayanti.

The bike rally and a ritual Jhanda Sthapana’ are organised every year prior to Hanuman Jayanti in the western Odisha city.

During the clash, some shops and several two-wheelers were set on fire while a number of cars were damaged.

The police have arrested 26 people so far and sent them to jail on the charge of rioting, while petrol bombs and swords were recovered from the houses of some persons in the city. Most of the localities wore a deserted look on Thursday as the majority of the shops remained closed.

Fresh violence was reported from a place in Dhanupali police station jurisdiction where two people were stabbed, police said.
Das said the administration has made elaborate security arrangements for Hanuman Jayanti and more force will deployed if required.

She convened a peace committee meeting, which was attended by representatives from both communities. “All those who attended the peace committee meeting have assured to cooperate to organize a peaceful Hanuman Jayanti tomorrow,” the collector said.

Sambalpur superintendent of police, B Gangadhar said that 43 people were detained and 26 others booked so far.

The administration clamped prohibitory order under section 144 CrPC in areas under Town, Dhanupali, Khetrajpur, Ainthapali, Bareipali and Sadar police stations in Sambalpur city.

Thirty police platoons were deployed in the area to stall any further attempts to create trouble, he said.

Asked if the violence in Sambalpur city was part of a conspiracy, Gangadhar said, “We think it is a sporadic incident. Investigation is on and the situation is now under control.”

The prohibitory order was also promulgated at Jeypore town in Koraput district from 3 pm to 9 pm on Thursday.

The order, which prohibits meetings and gathering of people, will continue till April 20, a senior official of the Koraput district administration said.

The Odisha government suspended internet services in Sambalpur district for 48 hours from 10 a m Thursday to check the spread of rumours which could incite fresh communal passion after Wednesday’s Hanuman Jayanti procession turned violent.

“The situation is critical and miscreants are circulating false and inflammatory messages through the social media to disturb public order in Sambalpur district,” the notice issued by additional chief secretary of the home department, D K Singh said.

Meanwhile, the Hanuman Jayanti Coordination Committee, which organises the Hanuman Jayanti every year, has given a 36-hour-bandh call from 3 pm on Thursday and urged all to celebrate the festival.

Committee president Damodar Kar was seriously injured and is undergoing treatment at a hospital in the city.

Senior BJP leader and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said “governance deficit” was responsible for the violence in Sambalpur, the heart of western Odisha, and came down heavily on the BJD government for failing to maintain law and order in the state.

“It was a clear intelligence failure and the police could not guess the possibilities,” said BJP state president Manmohan Samal.
Blaming the state government for the violence in which many innocent people were attacked and their properties lost, he said the state government should move the Centre and seek deployment of central forces if it is unable to handle the situation.

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( With inputs from www.siasat.com )

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