Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sambalpur, Apr 12:
A day before Hanuman Jayanti celebrations, Odisha’s Sambalpur Police this morning arrested four persons including Hanuman Jayanti Coordination Committee President Prabhat Panda for allegedly wielding swords during the Jhanda rally on April 5.
The cops have booked them under section 188, 144 of IPC and Arms Act for wielding swords during the rally at Dhanupalli square in the western Odisha town. They also have lodged FIRs against eight more.
Speaking to reporters after the arrest, member of Hanuman Jayanti Coordination Committee Shiv Kumar Agarwal denied wielding swords and said that they were arrested without any warrant even though they had appeared before the court earlier.
“I did not carry swords to Dhanupalli rally. The complaints filed against us are baseless. They have arrested us without warrants even though we had appeared before the court earlier. They will be held responsible for the eventualities,” said Agarwal.
Tension prevailed at few places of city following the arrest of the four men as local unit of BJP announced its support in favour of the tradition.
District administration has deployed about 40 platoons of police force and 79 officers to avoid any untoward incident, said a source in the police.
“The administration has no business to interfere with the tradition so long as our celebrations are peaceful. This is part of our culture and we have been wielding swords during Hanuman Jayanti every year peacefully. We oppose the police action,” said a local BJP leader.
Notably, sword wielding on Hanuman Jayanti is nothing new for the town as it is considered part of the Hindu tradition. Men and women alike wield swords and showcase their martial prowess on the occasion. The police, however, have been clamping down on devotees to prevent any untoward incident of late.
Senior BJP leader Jayanarayan Mishra had been arrested last year for wielding a sword in public in violation of prohibitory orders of the administration.