Senior BJD leader and local MP Arjun Charan Sethi today alleged that the inept handling of the situation by the district administration and police led to escalation of violence in Bhadrak town.
“Had the police and district administration of Bhadrak taken timely action, situation would not have aggravated to this extent,” Sethi, the MP from Bhadrak Lok Sabha seat told a local television channel.
Stating that he had brought the matter (lapses on part of the district administration and local police) to the notice of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the eight-time MP said: “The CM has assured me to take action against those responsible for the violence. Now, the situation in Bhadrak is gradually improving.”
Sethi, wondered how the district administration allowed a bike rally in the town when prohibitory order under section 144 of CrPC was in force.
“The tension between two groups escalated as the police did not prevent gathering of people despite imposition of the prohibitory order,” Sethi pointed out.
Sethi, also a former Union Minister, said, the mischief mongers availed an opportunity to get face-off at the rally where violence further erupted.
“Unfortunately, the police failed to mobilise force for which tension escalated,” Sethi said adding that the district administration also “failed” to successfully convince leaders of both groups at the peace committee meeting.
The Bhadrak MP claimed that though initially the violence was not of communal in nature and was confined to some persons, later it aggravated due to inept handling of the subsequent incidents.
Sethi said the police should have taken adequate precaution before the Rama Navmi festival. Adequate police force should have been in place as Bhadrak has the history of a communal riot in 1991.
Violence had erupted in Bhadrak town on April 6 after a group staged a demonstration near the Town police station demanding immediate arrest of those involved in allegedly posting offensive remarks against Hindu deities on social media.
Sethi’s statement has come as a major embarrassment for the BJD government as the opposition BJP and Congress are also making similar allegations against the police and the administration over the violence in Bhadrak.