At least 12 police personnel and a journalist were injured when a mob indulged in stone-pelting in the steel city of Rourkela on Tuesday, demanding withdrawal of containment tag from some areas.
The areas were declared as containment zones last month to curb the spread of COVID-19, police said. Residents of Mahatab Road and Main Road localities hit the streets, confronted the policemen deployed to enforce containment restrictions and sought to know why the areas should remain sealed for such a long period.
They demanded immediate steps to withdraw the containment zone tag from the areas, a police officer said. Claiming that they are facing immense hardship because they were kept in illegal confinement, the protesters entered into a heated altercation with the policemen on duty.
Unable to get a favourable response from the police personnel, the crowd manhandled them and pelted them with stones, the officer said.
The protesters also uprooted the barricades that were put up around the containment zones and vandalised a police control room, he said. As the agitators burnt tyres in the area, some portions of the bamboo barricades caught fire.
At least a dozen policemen and a journalist covering the incident suffered injuries in the attack. All of them were hospitalized. Additional police personnel were deployed in the area and the protesters were pacified.
"The situation is tense but under control," the police official said. Sundergarh district Collector Nikhil Pavan Kalyan convened a meeting of the peace committee to resolve the issue.
"It is our prime objective to resolve the issues and we will try to do that. We will listen to the grievances of the people and try to address them. We will hold talks with an open mind. This is not simply a local issue as all of us are fighting a bigger enemy - coronavirus," Collector Kalyan said.
The area had been declared a containment zone around a month ago following the detection of some Covid-19 cases.