12-hour bandh call given by VHP, BJP over communal violence evokes mixed response in Odisha 

Members of VHP, Bajrang Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party were seen enforcing the bandh

Published - April 19, 2023 04:28 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR

Security personnel during a curfew imposed after the incident of fresh violence on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti, in Sambalpur on April 15, 2023.

Security personnel during a curfew imposed after the incident of fresh violence on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti, in Sambalpur on April 15, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

The 12-hour-bandh call given by Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other Sangh Parivar organisations in 14 districts of Odisha on Wednesday protesting against the attack on bike rally taken out in the run-up to Hanuman Jayanti celebration in Sambalpur evoked mixed response.

The bandh that started at 6 a.m. is continuing in Sambalpur, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Sundargarh, Bolangir, Sonepur, Boudh, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, and Rayagada districts.

The bandh had a total impact in Sambalpur, where shops and business establishments remained closed.

Also Read | High-level BJP team detained while entering violence-hit Sambalpur town in Odisha

Members of VHP, Bajrang Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party were seen enforcing the bandh. There was no report of any violence from districts where a bandh was observed.

The streets wore a deserted look while people remained behind closed doors largely because of the heat wave condition prevailing across the State. The bus service was affected and government employees were stopped from attending offices at some places.

The communal tension between Hindus and Muslims surfaced when a bike rally taken out in the run-up to the Hanuman Jayanti celebration was pelted with stones on April 12.

The attack left 10 police persons injured and several others from Sangh Parivar injured. Suspecting that the situation could spiral out of hand, the State Home Department subsequently suspended internet services in Sambalpur and clamped curfew from April 15.

The prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC remained in force. Hanuman Jayanti Samonyoy Samiti and BJP observed a 36-hour bandh on April 13 and 14. A high-level BJP delegation comprising MPs and MLAs was not allowed entering Sambalpur on Tuesday.

“Similar violence was reported during bike rally last year [2022]. The Sambalpur district police had information about preparation for attack on devotees. Yet, the Sambalpur police failed to provide security to HJSS,” alleged Manmohan Samal, President of Odisha unit of BJP.

“It is unfortunate that police were at receiving end of the stone pelting. Had the State Government shown urgency in dealing with rioters soon after they had pelted stones, the situation would not have worsened to this extent,” Mr. Samal said, adding that BJP leaders waited for one day in Sambalpur, but the district administration did not initiate any deliberation.

Sambalpur had become a hub of beef export for the past four decades and it was now changing due to protection by the ruling BJD and people occupying government land could not be evicted from some of the localities in Sambalpur, the BJP president said terming the two issues as the root cause of communal tension.

The BJP also accused the Sambalpur district administration of deliberately arresting workers of Sangh Pariwar while accused from minority community were being let off.

“The communal violence was an unfortunate incident. It was confined to Sambalpur only. However, BJP was trying to reap political benefits by calling bandh in 14 districts,” said Jayadev Jena, former President of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee. The Biju Janata Dal also concurred saying it was time-tested strategy of BJP to create communal tension and divide on religion line.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.