HC bench demand in Western Odisha intensifies; Police-lawyers scuffle in Sambalpur

Sambalpur: Tension erupted in the city today after lawyers took to streets protesting State and Central government’s indifference attitude towards the long-standing demands of a permanent High Court bench in Western Odisha.

Nearly 150 lawyers were taken into preventive custody following a scuffle with police officials nearby Church Chhak in the town. The incident occurred when lawyers were organising a rally ahead of the visit of Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera today.

The Sambalpur District Bar Association earlier passed a resolution in its general body meeting three days back threatening to stage black-flag demonstrations during the visit of Union and State ministers to the district.

Alleging that both the Union and State governments were neglecting the demand for the establishment of a permanent bench of Orissa High court in Western Odisha since long, hundreds of lawyers organised a rally to protest Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera’s visit to Gangadhar Meher University on the occasion of its 74th anniversary of its foundation.

Agitators questioned why the state government is not serious about the issue just like it is concerned about the Chhattisgarh matter.

“CM Naveen had apprised the Centre on the issue on two occasions while the latter is not showing any interest on the matter,” said a lawyer.

A separate bench of High Court have been a major demand by the lawyers of western Odisha since past some decades. Lawyers had staged a long demonstration in front of the Orissa High Court in Cuttack and Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to attract the attention of the governments back in 2016.

“Around 150 protestors have been taken into custody and taken to Sasan police station as a preventive measure. They will be released once the minister’s visit concludes after submission of PR bond,” said additional SP Amarendra Rana.