Curfew Relaxed For 6 Hours in Bhadrak, Social Media Blocked

Violence was triggered by alleged abusive remarks on social media on Lord Ram and Sita.

With a gradual improvement in the ground situation in trouble-torn Bhadrak town in Odisha, the administration on Monday relaxed curfew for six hours even as social media platforms remained blocked.

The curfew was relaxed initially from 8 am to 12 noon, which was later extended till 2 pm to allow people to procure essential commodities, Bhadrak District Collector Gyana Ranjan Das said.

He said all educational institutions, banks and government offices would be opened from Tuesday.

Director General of Police KB Singh said the city is gradually moving towards normalcy.

“The situation is fully under control and normalcy has been restored in the town. Several shops and business establishments opened after the curfew was relaxed,” said Singh.

Around 35 police platoons are deployed in the town. Quoting sources, Hindustan Times said Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik discussed the situation on Sunday.

Senior Home Ministry OfficialWe have sent five companies of paramilitary personnel to Odisha. Two of them are riot-controlling Rapid Action Battalions.

Govt Blocks Social Media For 48 Hours

Meanwhile, the crime branch has launched an investigation into the rumours circulated through social media following directions by Chief Secretary AP Padhi, who has appealed to people not to believe in such rumours. The State Government on Sunday blocked social media platforms for 48 hours in Bhadrak and other places close to the town keeping in mind further flare-up in the town.

The cyber police cell would seek information from people to track miscreants spreading hate messages on social media and strict action would be taken against them, Special Director General of Police (Crime) BK Sharma said.

Three companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) and two companies of CRPF have arrived to assist police in maintaining law and order in the town, Bhadrak SP Dilip Das said.

Additional forces, including armed police, were deployed as part of an effort to restore peace in the town which had witnessed violence on Thursday and Friday, Das said, adding 36 platoons of police force have been deployed in the area.

As Many as 40 Arrests Made So Far

Senior officials, including Home Secretary Asit Tripathy and Director-General of Police KB Singh, have been camping in Bhadrak to monitor and supervise the peace operation.

As many as 40 people have been arrested so far in connection with the violence which left several shops gutted and vehicles damaged, Bhadrak PS in-charge Jadunath Jena said.

Prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC remained in force in nearby Dhamnagar and Basudevpur as a precautionary measure to prevent spread of violence, a police official said.

He said the decision to relax the curfew for four hours was taken after reviewing the situation that showed signs of improvement with no untoward incident being reported from any part of the town since yesterday.

Curfew Imposed on Friday

Curfew was imposed on Friday as fresh violence erupted in some areas after talks failed to resolve the row triggered by alleged abusive remarks on social media.

Dilip Das, Bhadrak Superintendent of Police As fresh violence broke out in several areas of the town, the administration imposed curfew in order to bring the situation under control.

The administration had called a peace committee meeting on Thursday in a bid to restore normalcy and maintain communal harmony.

Angry people, including young members from Bajarang Dal, VHP and Sri Ramnavami Committee, staged demonstration before the Bhadrak Town Police Station. They also lodged the written complaint with the police and demanded immediate arrest of the culprits.

However, after the peace committee meeting failed to yield any result, a mob clashed with police personnel and pelted stones. Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO), Sudhakar Jena, was injured and a police vehicle was damaged in the incident, police said.

One group took out a procession and allegedly raised objectionable remarks that evoked sharp reaction from other sections.

Police resorted to lathi-charge and used mild force to control the situation as attempts were made to violate the prohibitory orders imposed under Section 144 of CrPC.

Road blockades were put at various places, including the High school, Town hall, Bonth and Akhandalamani Chhak.

The state government appointed Gyanaranjan Das, who was the Commissioner of Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC), as Bhadrak Collector and asked him to take charge immediately.

Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Krishan Pal Gurjar, who was scheduled to attend a function in Bhadrak on Thursday, said he has been informed about the tense situation in the town by the police.

Unless the situation improves in Bhadrak, I will not visit the town.

President of Bhadrak Muslim Jamaat Abdul Bari in a statement condemned the alleged remarks about Lord Ram and demanded appropriate action against those involved in the episode.

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