36-hour-bandh call by Samiti in Odisha’s Sambalpur following Hindu-Muslim clash

Internet services suspended while police stage flag-march in Sambalpur to bring the situation under control

Updated - April 14, 2023 08:51 am IST

Published - April 14, 2023 02:39 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

Violence between two religious groups had erupted in Odisha’s Sambalpur town during motorcycle procession undertaken by Hanuman Jayanti Samonyoya Samiti (HJSS) members on Wednesday evening. Photo: Special Arrangement

Violence between two religious groups had erupted in Odisha’s Sambalpur town during motorcycle procession undertaken by Hanuman Jayanti Samonyoya Samiti (HJSS) members on Wednesday evening. Photo: Special Arrangement

Hanuman Jayanti Samonyoya Samiti (HJSS) in Sambalpur district has called for a 36-hour-bandh following a violent clash between Hindus and Muslims, in the western Odisha town.

“People should come forward to participate in Hanuman Jayanti celebration in large numbers on Friday evening. Till that time, all traders should shut down their shops in solidarity with the cause,” said HJSS president Raj Kumar Badapanda.

Mr. Panda said, “Wednesday’s bike rally was peaceful. Some miscreants attacked bikers in an organised manner. The Sambalpur Police administration failed to provide security to the people.” The Sambalpur unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party backed the bandh call saying the procession would definitely take its usual route.

The Hanuman Jayanti procession would commence from Dhanukoda and pass through Muslim-dominated colonies like Solapali, Gengutipali, Motijira, Bargatpada and Bhatapada.

“The attack on the bike rally was pre-planned. Stones were showered on those who were part of the bike rally from rooftops. Attackers were prepared to harm people. We cannot tolerate this. The procession would take its usual route as it has been doing in the past 40 years. It is up to the police administration to provide protection to the Hanuman Jayanti procession,” said Girish Patel, Sambalpur district BJP president and ex-president of HJSS.

“What happened yesterday is condemnable. There is a collapse of law and order in Odisha. I urge the State government to tackle the situation,” said Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. The Odisha unit of the BJP is sending a team of MLAs to Sambalpur for Hanuman Jayanti celebration.

On Wednesday, stones were pelted at HJSS members comprising mostly Bajrang Dal members as the bike rally was passing through Muslim-dominated colonies in Sambalpur. About 10 police personnel and five members of HJSS sustained injuries.

“The attack on the bike rally was pre-planned”Girish PatelSambalpur district BJP president

Internet services were suspended for 48 hours in Sambalpur on Thursday. Social messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and other such media, which had the potential to inflame communal passions, thereby leading to acts of causing disturbance of public orders in Sambalpur, were being monitored. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC were clamped in different police station limits of Sambalpur to bring the situation under control.

The Sambalpur district and police administration staged flag march in the town to instil a sense of security and warn trouble-mongers.

“We have deployed 42 platoons of police to be led by 26 Deputy Superintendents of Police, assisted by 50 police inspectors and 70 sub-inspectors and assistant sub-inspectors,” said Brijesh Rai, Deputy Inspector General of Police (north-central range).

Mr. Rai informed the police were expecting the procession to pass off smoothly, and any act of sabotage would be dealt with iron hands.

Meanwhile, the State Home Department termed the situation tense and critical following clash between Hindus and Muslims.

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