Internet services were suspended on Thursday following clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Odisha’s Sambalpur town during motorcycle procession undertaken by Hanuman Jayanti Samonyoya Samiti (HJSS) members on Wednesday evening.
When stones were pelted at HJSS members comprising mostly Bajrang Dal members as the bike rally was passing through Muslim dominated colonies in Sambalpur, situation worsened.
About 10 police personnel and five members of HJSS sustained injuries as they were trying to prevent escalation of the situation. Condition of some police personnel was stated to be serious. The situation got flared up as Muslims were returning after offering Namaz around 6 p.m. of Wednesday. Bikes and cars belonging to JHSS were damaged. In retaliation, HJSS members set shops belonging to minority community on fire. Subsequently, prohibitory order under Section 144 of CrPC were clamped to bring situation under control.
“The situation is now under control. 43 persons have been detained so far and collection of data is on. We have evidence against 26 persons & they will be forwarded to court. Petrol bombs have been seized,” said Sambalpur SP B. Gangadhar
Also, a notification was issued by State Home Department on Thursday that said, “There were clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Sambalpur town. The situation is critical and miscreants are circulating false and inflammatory messages through social media to disturb public order in Sambalpur district.”
Whereas messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and other such media have the potential to inflame communal passions thereby leading to acts of causing disturbance of public orders in Sambalpur, internet services and other social media platforms have been suspended for 48 hours beginning from 10 a.m. of Thursday (April 13).
All social media platforms would remain shut while internet services through mobile internet, Internet Service Providers, broadband, dial up system and any other means of transmission have been suspended, the notification elaborated.