About 40 people were injured when police resorted to lathicharge to control a mob following an alleged molestation bid on a girl at the annual Chadak mela at Chandaneswar, prompting the government to order an administrative inquiry, official sources said on Friday.
The incident occurred at Chandaneswar on the border of Balasore and Midnapur district of West Bengal, they said.
While police resorted to lathicharge leaving about 40 people injured, the angry mob set ablaze a police van besides pelting stones at security personnel, police said.
"An attempt was made to molest a girl by some anti-socials in the crowd and when police rushed to the spot some miscreants pelted stones at police and set fire on a police van," said Balasore Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar.
Trouble started during the Chandini Parva, a ritual of Chadak Mela when some devotees allegedly threw mud and sandalwood paste at a girl who was present there along with her family to witness the festival, said an eyewitness.
However, a devotee claimed, "throwing mud and sandalwood paste at each other is part of the rituals at Chandini Parva and no one knowingly tried to perform the act against the woman. It is the police in the name of maintaining law and order who resorted to lathicharge at devotees in which many were injured and there was a stampede like situation."
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked the Revenue Divisional Commissioner, Central division, to submit a report on the incident within 60 days.