Odisha: Curfew in Bhadrak town after communal violence over Facebook post
Despite a deceptive calm in the aftermath of Thursday’s communal violence in Bhadrak, the coastal Odisha town today witnessed fresh violence as mobs set ablaze shops and attacked police vehicles, forcing the authorities to impose curfew.
Bhadrak SP Dilip Das said a mob held up traffic on the road near Nua Bazar square and demanded police action against the youth who had posted offensive comments against Ram and Sita on Facebook. The group had a heated argument with the police. Some police vehicles were damaged by the mob. Though Section 144, prohibiting assembly of four or more people in public places, was imposed in the town, officials had to clamp curfew as the situation deteriorated further.
The state government rushed its top officials to Bhadrak to take stock of the situation, and also shifted district collector LN Mishra and replaced him with Cuttack Municipal Commissioner Gyana Ranjan Das. About 15 platoons of police have been deployed in the town.
The town witnessed violence yesterday after derogatory comments on Ram and Sita were posted on a Facebook page. Soon after, VHP and Bajrang Dal activists started blockading traffic on the main roads and gheraoed a police station.
The VHP and Bajrang Dal activists demanded action against three Muslim youth for their alleged blasphemous comments on Facebook. The three had allegedly posted the said comments in response to a Bajrang Dal activist Ajit Kumar Padhihari’s post hailing Jai Shri Ram on Facebook.
Though a peace meeting was convened today it failed to bring out any resolution following which members of both communities indulged in violence.
Bhadrak last saw a riot in March 1991 on the day of Ram Navami when a religious procession of Hindus had a scuffle with a Muslim bystander. The city’s main market was gutted in the riots that followed.