Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kendrapara, Aug 7:
Law and order has completely collapsed in Odisha’s Kendrapara town as police cracked down on protestors demanding immediate arrest of self-proclaimed god man Srimad Sarathi Baba this morning.
Taking off from where it had left last night, police lathicharged protestors who had blocked the road at Tinimunhani square staging a dharna demanding immediate action against the self-styled god man and refused to budge from the place.
It was virtual war out there as police lobbed tear gas shells at the protestors, who in turn pelted stones at the men in khaki. Some policemen and members of the public have been injured in the incident.
A journalist attacked by the police has sustained severe injuries and is being treated at the district headquarters hospital.
Section 144 has been imposed on the entire stretch from Tinimuhani Square in Kendarpara town to the Sarathi Ashram in Barimula from 10 am to 10 pm. But that has not prevented people from going ahead with their protest.
Television channels showed police even attacking anyone those who had raised hands above the shoulders in surrender; they were also seen kicking on shop doors. Kendrapara SP Satish Gajbhiye was a silent spectator as his men went berserk.
Police has arrested Kendrapara district BJP president Duryodhan Sahu. Policemen were seen threatening reporters recording the incident. Even a former office bearer of the Kendrapara Bar Association was made to do sit ups at the Tinimuhani square.
Lawyers have now gheraoed the district collectorate. BJP vice president Bijay Mohapatra demanded immediate shifting of the Kendrapara SP and action against him. He said the police administration was working as the agent of the Baba.
Odisha Union of Journalists (OUJ) has condemned police action against the journalist who was performing his duty. The OUJ has demanded action against SP.
Civil rights groups, including Odisha Durneeti Sangharsh Mahasangha and activist Akhand, have also condemned the arrest of women’s rights activist Mamata Samantray,
Television visuals showed police breaking open doors and dragging out men from a house at Tinimuhani square.
Meanwhile, a six-member team of the Crime Branch, led by additional SP Santosh Patnaik, arrived in Kendrapara town this morning to start its probe.
“The team would begin investigation as per the complaints against Sarathi Baba and take a decision on who would be brought under the purview of investigation. On the basis of the outcome of the investigation, appropriate action would be taken,” Crime Branch ADG BK Sharma told reporters in Cuttack.
Though there is no official word on the terms of reference of the probe, sources said the Crime Branch would inquire into whether the Baba stayed in the Hyderabad hotel at the relevant time and if he did, then who he stayed with. It would also ascertain whether the godman in question was being framed with malicious intention, sources said.