Bhubaneswar, Sep 6 (IANS) At least a hundred people, including protestors and several policemen, were injured when a Congress rally against the Naveen Patnaik-led government turned violent in the Odisha capital Thursday, police said.
The cops used water cannons, lobbed tear gas shells and resorted to baton-charge to disperse the irate crowd after the Congressmen allegedly stormed the barricade and attacked the police while advancing towards the state assembly which was in session.
The site of the protest virtually turned into a battle ground later, with police and protestors chasing each other. The crowd indulged in vandalism outside the assembly, prompting police to use force, state police chief Prakash Mishra told IANS. "Police used minimum force. They (the Congressmen) broke down the barricades and threw stones at police. At least sixty policemen have sustained injuries," he said.
On the other hand, a senior Congress leader said the protestors turned violent after police resorted to a lathi-charge. "Congress workers were protesting peacefully. Police attacked them first, throwing stones on them. Some of our workers have sustained head injuries," Congress leader Chandrasekhar Sahu told reporters.
It was the first massive rally that the state's main opposition Congress party held in state capital Bhubaneswar to highlight the alleged failure of the state government on various fronts and demand the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
"People voted for Naveen Patnaik with the hope that he will change the fate of Odisha. Now, after 12 years of his rule, the state has become poorer," state Congress president Niranjan Patnaik said while addressing the gathering prior to the violence.
Reacting on the Congress rally, Naveen Patnaik said the Congress leaders were continuing with their old habit of making false allegations against the state government.
Patnaik cited the example of the Congress party making a promise to provide one kg of rice at Rs.3 to the poor people of India in the 2009 general election. "What happened to that promise," he asked. The chief minister also attacked the Congress on 'Coalgate' and other recent scams.