Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kendrapara, Mar 10:
An eerie stillness haunts the nondescript Namtara village under Rajkanika block in Odisha’s Kendrapara district, which had turned into a mini-battleground over the all-women anti-liquor campaign on Sunday, as the male members have gone into hiding fearing arrest.
Following the pitched battle, four platoons of armed police force have been deployed on the outskirts of the Namtara village. The police could not enter the village owing to stiff resistance from women.
The police attempted to enter the village forcibly on Monday but had to recoil to Deulatara village ground and Kandia outpost as villagers armed with choppers (Katuri) and traditional vegetable cutters (Panikhi) drove them about 500 metres away from the village. Pattamundai SDPO, along with other police personnel, have been camping in the village to control the law and order situation.
In the aftermath of the stone pelting and alleged police firing, the ruins of the vandalised liquor shop and the charred police jeep stand testimony to the clash in the village.
Satyabrata Rout, Abhay Sethi, Bijay Jena, Nabhaghana Sahu from Namtara village and Kusha Mallick from Kandia village and Rabindra Jena from Padanipal village under Aul police station limits were arrested and forwarded to court on Monday.
Fearing further arrests in the incident, the male members of these villages have left their homes for unknown destinations.
Shutters were downed in the Namtara market yesterday and vehicular movement was not seen on the Singhapur-Rajkanika road.
As per reports, as many as nine villagers injured in the firing and baton charging by the police are undergoing treatment at SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack. Besides, over ten police personnel and three media persons also sustained injuries during the clash.
While police claimed that they had only resorted to blank firing and baton charging after protesters pelted stones on them, visuals aired by television channels showed police pelting stones at the protesters.
“Police were compelled to resort to a baton charge and blank firing to disperse the protesters,” said Kendrapara, Superintendent of Police Satish Kumar Gajbhiye.
A delegation led by BJP Legislature Party leader Basant Panda visited Namatra village today and met the villagers.
It may be noted that a Congress delegation led by PCC chief Harichandan had visited the village yesterday and had demanded an independent inquiry into the incident, besides immediate shifting of the liquor shop from the village.