Bhubaneswar, April 7: On Friday, curfew was imposed in Odisha’s coastal town of Bhadrak as violence erupted after objectionable comments on Hindu deities were posted on Facebook. Mobs set ablaze shops, torched vehicles and burned police vehicles to protest. Curfew imposed in Bhadrak town, has been extended today till 6 pm. So far over 28 persons have been detained by police.Late on Friday night, rioters also damaged a Hanuman temple. Even the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in the evening appealed to people to maintain calm and peace. “I sincerely appeal to all in Bhadrak for peace & harmony; have directed stringent action against any attempt to disrupt peace,” Patnaik wrote in a tweet.
BJD spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb said: “District administration is keeping a close watch on the situation. Stringent action would be initiated against troublemakers. Everybody should try to restore peace and harmony. BJD believes in secularism.”
Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, BJP state unit president Badant Panda, BJP leader Pratap Sarangi, Congress leader Mohd Moquim, VHP state unit working president Badrinath Patnaik have also appealed to people to maintain peace.
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. A peace committee meeting to broker peace failed to yield any results leading to flare-up. Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Krishan Pal Gurjar will be holding a public meeting at Badamba in Cuttack district today.
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.