A DAY after miscreants hurled bricks at an idol of Lord Ganesh during the immersion ceremony, leading to arson and violence, communal tension continued to simmer in the steel city of Rourkela Tuesday.
Sundargarh Collector Bhupinder Singh Punia, who held a peace committee meeting with members of different communities and senior police officials, said Section 144 of CrPC was imposed on a 3-km stretch of road between Udit Nagar and Madhusudan square area of the city. Around 20 platoons of police along with CRPF personnel have been deployed in the town.
Trouble began around 11 pm on Monday when idols of Lord Ganesh were being taken in a procession for immersion in the Brahmani river. Some miscreants hurled stones at the procession when it reached the Muslim-dominated Nala Road. One idol was damaged in the stone-pelting, alleged members of a puja committee.
But police had a different version. “While 18 idols passed by peacefully, trouble began when the 19th one was passing by. Some Muslims passed unsavoury remarks, which led to stone throwing. The vehicle carrying the idol stopped suddenly, due to which the idol fell and was damaged,” said Plantsite Police Station Inspector Upendra Pradhan. This triggered violence as a mob torched vehicles and shops on Nala Road.
The police have so far arrested eight people — all Hindus — on charges of rioting. Protesting against the arrest, a group of people gheraoed the SP office Tuesday evening leading to mild lathicharge. Bilal Ahmed, member of the Rourkela Integration Forum, said if any Muslim is found involved in the stone-throwing, police should take strict action against him.