Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 6:
Tension ran high outside the ashram of Sarathi Baba at Barimula in Odisha’s Kendrapara district after police resorted to unprovoked baton charging on protesters and smashed vehicles on Thursday evening.
Reports said several protestors have been injured in the baton charging by the police. The incident occurred when police tried to clear protestors, who were on a dharna blocking the road demanding action against the self-styled god man Srimad Sarathi Baba.
Television screens showed men in khaki going on a rampage chasing and beating protestors with lathis when they had already vacated the place. The policemen did not even spare vehicles left by the fleeing protestors on the side of the road and were seen throwing bicycles and smashing motor cycles with their batons. Even women protestors were not spared by the rampaging police.
Kendrapara SP Satish Gajbhiye, however, defended the action of his men. “They threw stones on policemen leaving us with no option but to use force,” the SP, himself leading the charge in full battle gear, said.
He followed it up with a politically loaded statement that is bound to be picked up by the opposition. “These people have obviously been engaged by some forces to create a nuisance,” he said.
Asked why the police was acting against the god man, Gajbhiye shot back: “We cannot act on the basis of a vague complaint.”
When a reporter pointed to fresh evidence emerging about the Baba having gone to Hyderabad, the SP quipped; “It is not our business to find out who went where and with whom.”
The conduct of the police lent credence to allegations that they are under instructions to ensure that no harm is done to the influential baba, his ahsram or his desciples.