Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 12:
The BJP today launched a scathing attack on the BJD government in Odisha for the police crackdown on villagers of Belabahali who were seeking shifting of a proposed bridge site in Keonjhar district and described it as a deliberate attempt to divert public attention from the Nabakalebara fiasco and demanded a judicial probe into the incident.
“The brutal police attack on the people at Belabahali near Anandpur was deliberately engineered by the BJD government to divert public attention from the gross mismanagement of Nabakalebara rituals of Lord Jagannath and non completion of works connected with the grand event,” said K V Singhdeo BJP state unit president addressing the media here.
Alleging that 114 persons have been arrested in Belabahali since July 7, Singhdeo demanded that all those particularly women, picked at random, be released immediately.
The senior BJP leader and MLA from Patnagarh said at least seven of the women arrested have infants below one year age.
He said power supply to the village was being snapped everyday from 7 PM to 7 AM to intimidate the villagers and demanded immediate restoration of normal power supply to the village so that the villagers can lead normal life.
The BJP state president who had led a 12-member party delegation to Belabahali on Saturday to take stock of the situation stated that the villagers were not opposed to the bridge over the river Kusei but simply sought a change of location.
“This entire exercise has been launched at the behest of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and was a simple diversionary tactics aimed at diverting public attention as his government had come under severe attack for gross mismanagement in the Nabakalebara rituals,” Singhdeo alleged.
Singhdeo warned if the demands of the locals were not acceded to it his party would launch a march from Belabahali to Bhubaneswar in protest.
Stating that the agitation had been going on for a long time for change of alignment of the bridge and several rounds of talks were also held with the administration on the issue, Singhdeo questioned the urgency behind the sudden move to start work amid heavy police deployment.
He claimed even the field inspection report of the Works Department official admitted the people’s design satisfies NHAI norms without demolishing the existing built up structure.
The BJP state party chief said the party would take up the matter of realignment of the bridge with the Union Shipping Ministry.
He said the injured people who had been charged with batons and teargas shells fired at them during the incident were not even provided with medical treatment.