Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Mar 5:
The Congress on Wednesday staged a massive rally at Cuttack city and gheraoed the Odisha Police headquarters before submitting a memorandum to the Governor through the DGP against police excesses on its youth and student front members as well as the deteriorating law and order situation in the state.
The rally, which was more or less peaceful, turned violent towards the end at the time of gherao of the police headquarters with minor scuffles between policemen on duty and the protestors. There were also reports of stone pelting by some of the protesters.
The Congress held a massive public meeting at Mata Math in the city before marching in a rally towards the state police headquarters which was addressed by several party leaders.
Later, a delegation led by Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Prasad Harichandan, submitted a memorandum to the Governor through the DGP against police excess committed on its youth and student front members, who had democratically demonstrated in front of the Chief Minister on JN Marg in Bhubaneswar on February 18.
The Congress, in its memorandum, claimed that the Youth Congress and NSUI activists were democratically protesting the failure of the government in addressing the acute unemployment in Odisha.
It said the police, which has been fully politicized, instituted false cases under sections 307, 353, 341, 336, 332, 427, 147, 120-B, 506 IPC and under section 7 CrPC and 96 OUP Act.
“We charge the government with criminal misuse of power, mis-governance, violating human rights, abdicating constitutional duties, undermining the democratic process. We strongly feel that the continuance of this government in office is not tenable, either morally or constitutionall,y, the memorandum said.
The memorandum sought the intervention of the Governor to protect the interests of the youth and citizens, besides upholding the democratic rights as well as the law of the land while demanding a thorough inquiry into the incident through independent investigation agencies followed up by appropriate action.
“Today’s rally shows the awakening among the Congress workers against the 15 years of Naveen Patnaik led BJD government’s misrule in Odisha. It’s against police exploitation, framing of false cases against youth and student workers of the Congress, who had staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the Chief Minister’s cavalcade, PCC chief Prasad Harichandan told reporters at the rally.
“I feel the state police have no knowledge of the law. They have slapped charges under section 307 on the students who were peacefully demonstrating just to satisfy the Chief Minister,” said former PCC president and senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik.
“This demonstration is a sample. If the police don’t stop their acts of repression, the Congress will take to the streets and such demonstrations will take place in every nook and corner of the state. We demand immediate revocation of section 307 against those who have been arrested. Police should work as the servant of the people,” said Md Mokim, Cuttack city Congress president.
“Has this government provided any jobs to the youths? Around 50 lakh youths are jobless in Odisha. Around 11 lakh youths are registered as unemployed in the state. We had come to meet the DGP today to tell him that the youths were raising their voice for their rights,” said Subhankar Sarkar, deputy in-charge Odisha Congress.
Commenting on today’s rally by the Congress at Cuttack, BJD spokesperson and Barchana MLA Amar Prasad Satpathy said the Congress should first put its house in order and then go for demonstrations. The law cannot be interpreted as per their liking.
“This is being organized to present the incident in a different light before the people. But I am sure it’s not going to affect the people in any way,” he said.
“The matter is now in the courts. Something can be said on it only after investigations are complete,” said Binayananda Jha, ADG (Law and Order).
“The case has already been registered. Hearing is in progress in the court. What can be done will only be known during the course of investigation. We have nothing in our hands after the matter reaches the court. Nothing can be said on it now,” pointed out Jha.