Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 21:
Activists of BJP and BJD clashed at Master Canteen Square and Ram Mandir Chhak here today during the 12-hour Bhubaneswar bandh called by the saffron party over city Mayor Ananta Narayan Jena’s alleged link in the murder of engineering student Asutosh Mohanty alias Rishi.
According to reports, Biju Chhatra Janata Dal (BCJD) members took out a bike rally from Vani Vihar to Master Canteen protesting the BJP’s bandh call. As the BCJD members reached Master Canteen, a scuffle ensued between them and BJP activists who were staging road blockade there.
On being informed, Twin City Police Commissioner YB Khurania and Bhubaneswar DCP Satyabrata Bhoi reached the spot. Several BJP activists were later arrested, sources said.
This apart, a few BJP activists were taken into custody by cops while they were trying to ransack city buses at Master Canteen.
“We were observing peaceful protests across Bhubaneswar. But, the police allowed another similar rally of BJD to foil our protest. It was done at the behest of the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik,” BJP General Secretary Prithviraj Harichandan said.
About an hour later, activists of the two parties locked horns at Ram Mandir Chhak and hurled stones at each other as BCJD members allegedly thrashed a BJP activist.
Moments later, the two groups clashed at Sriya Talkies Chhak during which a bike was set on fire.
Police resorted to mild lathi charge when some BJP activists holding bamboo sticks tried to barge into KFC restaurant near Ram Mandir Chhak. They reportedly tore some posters of the restaurant.
Alleging attack on BJP workers by BCJD members, four leaders of BJP including Sameer Mohanty and Sameer Dey staged a sit-in dharna in front of the State Secretariat. They were soon picked up by police from the spot.
The saffron party workers were also seen picketing and blocking roads by burning tyres at Khandagiri, CRP Square, Jaydev Vihar, Kalpana Square as a result of which vehicular movement was affected for a while.
As many as 20 activists were detained from Fire Station Square while they were attempting to stop vehicles.
Emergency services, trains, hospitals and medicine shops were excluded from the purview of the bandh.
In view of the bandh call, security arrangement was tightened at the State Secretariat. Employees of the secretariat were asked to reach office by 9.30 am. It was decided to close the main gate of the secretariat at 10.15 am. Special Secretary of the Home Department had yesterday issued a letter to all departments in this regard.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today reached secretariat at 11.15 am amid tight security.
“Violence was reported at 2-3 places. CCTV footage of these incidents will be examined and action will be taken accordingly,” said Twin City Police Commissioner YB Khurania.
“As many as 25 platoons of police force have been deployed in the city to avoid any untoward incident. We have detained about 50 BJP workers. We will examine CCTV footage of ransacking by BJP workers and action will be taken against those involved in it,” said Bhubaneswar DCP Satyabrata Bhoi.