Naveen Patnaik Visits Violence-Hit Bhadrak, Promises Stern Action

Patnaik toured the violence-hit areas, interacted with victims and enquired into damage due to violence.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday reviewed the ground situation in Bhadrak and promised stern action against those responsible for violence, while two senior officers in the district were removed from their posts.

The Chief Minister also assured full compensation to the victims.

Bhadrak Superintendent of Police Dilip Das was shifted to the state police headquarters at Cuttack. He was replaced by Jajpur SP Anup Sahoo.

Similarly, Additional District Magistrate of Bhadrak Pravas Bhoi was replaced by Shyambhakt Mishra, who was the sub-collector of Talcher, an official said.

As curfew was relaxed for nine hours in Bhadrak, Patnaik toured the violence-hit areas, interacted with victims and enquired into damage due to violence sparked by abusive remarks against Hindu deities on social media.

Also Read: Normalcy Limping Back in Bhadrak After Curfew Relaxation

After reviewing the situation at a high-level meeting with senior officials at Bhadrak, the Chief Minister said those responsible for violence would be punished as per law.

The state government would also take strong steps to counter the divisive forces creating discord and violence in the name of religion and bringing misery to the peace loving people of Odisha, he said.

Patnaik said full compensation would be provided to the people affected in the violence and new vending zones will be constructed for rehabilitation of the affected street vendors.

Patnaik directed the officials to assess the detailed damage suffered by people and report within three days for provision of financial assistance for livelihood restoration.

The CM said he would soon announce a package for the people who have lost their livelihood.

Patnaik visited areas like Puruna Bazar, Chandan Bazar and Apartibindha where people turned out in large numbers to narrate their plight.

As the situation improved further, the curfew, which was imposed on 7 April, was relaxed from 7 am to 4 pm to enable people to buy essential items besides facilitating normal activities, Bhadrak Collector Gyana Ranjan Das said.

The curfew remained in force after 4 pm and is likely to be relaxed again on Thursday, he added.

Meanwhile, five people were identified and interrogated by the cyber cell of Crime Branch of police in connection with circulation of rumours and objectionable messages on social media, a senior official said.

The ban imposed on social media sites in Bhadrak and nearby areas on 9 April was lifted last night following considerable improvement in the situation.

The decision to lift the ban on Internet was taken in view of improvement in situation and also to facilitate banking transactions and other important operations in the area.

Also Read: Curfew Relaxed For 6 Hours in Bhadrak, Social Media Blocked

No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the town on Wednesday and if normalcy continued, the administration might think of relaxing the curfew for a longer period, he said.

During curfew relaxation period, educational institutions, government offices, banks and ATMs were open with security forces keeping vigil. Vehicular movement was also normal, he said.

The administration has made arrangements to ensure availability of essential commodities in sufficient quantities to prevent hoarding and price hike.

About 100 people have so far been arrested in connection with the violence, Bhadrak SP Dilip Das said adding that some sharp weapons and motorcycles have also been seized.

Thirty-seven platoons of security forces (around 1,300 personnel) have been deployed in the town. Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) also assisted the state police in maintaining law and order, police said.

Also Read: Bhadrak Unrest: 35 Platoons, 300 Paramilitary Personnel Deployed

Violence had erupted in the town on 6 April after a group staged a demonstration near the town police station demanding arrest of those involved in posting alleged offensive remarks against Hindu deities on social media.

Though the administration clamped prohibitory orders, tension persisted and fresh violence was reported on 7 April despite a peace meeting. Escalation in tension prompted the administration to impose curfew on 7 April.

Meanwhile, leaders of some political parties including Congress and CPI-M visited the violence-affected areas of Bhadrak and met the victims.

Also Read: Beyond Bhadrak: Political Ground Beneath Naveen’s Feet is Shifting

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