Court seeks details of the measures to bring about order

Court urged to declare August 25 bandh illegal

Directive a sequel to PIL by Ambedkar Lohia Vichar Manch

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Thursday asked the State Government to respond by Friday detailing about the entire development of communal clashes that unfolded in Kandhamal district and elsewhere in the State recently. The Government has been asked to furnish details of the measures taken over these days to restore peace in troubled areas.

This direction from the bench of Chief Justice B S Chauhan and Justice B N Mohapatra came over a petition filed by Utkal Christian Council, an affiliated body of the National Council of Churches in India. Council secretary J R Patra in his petition has prayed for CBI enquiry into the whole incidents that unfolded ever since the purported threat letter issued to VHP leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati who along with four of his disciples was killed on August 23.

The petitioner believes that the local police are incapable of handling such a sensational issue. “Moreover, the State police are acting in a biased manner and are creating confusion among the minorities which is alarming,” the petitioner said. It also questioned the role of the State Government saying that a ruling coalition party supported the State-wide bandh that was observed on August 25 to protest against the death of the Swami. “It was also baffling to note that the State police allowed the bandh supporters to take out rallies and processions in areas where prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC were promulgated”.

Urging the HC to call the August 25 bandh “illegal”, Mr. Patra pointed out that communal riots in the State actually broke out ever since the bandh was observed which was openly supported by the ruling coalition party. The petitioner has also urged the HC to direct the Government to immediately rescue and rehabilitate the riot victims who are now taking shelter in jungles. “The victims should be adequately compensated so that they immediately start their normal life.”

Reacting on Wednesday, the HC had directed the Government to take measures to protect the life and properties of people in the strife-torn areas. “Take measures to restore peace in the area by deploying adequate forces”, the HC had said adjudicating over anther PIL filed by Ambedkar Lohia Vichar Manch chief Sangram Mallick.

Counsel told the court that the Government was aware of the situation and measures were being taken to restore normalcy. “The State Government is committed to protect the life and property of all sections of the people,” the HC was told on Wednesday.