Authorities on Friday imposed curfew in Odisha’s coastal town of Bhadrak as communal tensions flared over alleged derogatory comments about Ram and Sita on Facebook. Mobs set ablaze shops and attacked police vehicles a day after prohibitory orders were imposed in the town on Thursday.
Late on Friday night, rioters also damaged a Hanuman temple.
Police superintendent Dilip Das said that a mob held up traffic near Nua Bazar square even as a meeting of a peace committee, comprising members from both the communities, was convened.
The state government shifted district collector LN Mishra and replaced him with Cuttack Municipal Commissioner Gyana Ranjan Das. Home Secretary Asit Tripathy, DGP K B Singh and other top officials have rushed to Bhadrak. About 15 platoons of police have been deployed.
The tensions have been simmering since members of another community allegedly wrote the alleged derogatory comments on Bajrang Dal activist Ajit Kumar Padhihari’s Facebook wall. VHP and Bajrang Dal activists blocked roads by burning tyres and gheraoing a police station demanding arrest of three youths for posting the comments. The Bhagat Sena Ram Navmi Samiti had lodged a complaint with police demanding action against the three.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Krishan Pal Gurjar, who was scheduled to attend a function in Bhadrak on Saturday, cancelled his trip after requests by local police.