Pradeep Pattanayak

Lower PMG in Bhubaneswar on Thursday turned into a battle zone for an hour after Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) activists scuffled with the police, pelted stones at the sleuths and damaged a police vehicle. Later, the police resorted to lathi charge to control the situation. 

It all began at around 1:00 pm. One of the busiest places in the capital city, Master Canteen square (which is also known as Lower PMG) was witnessing usual traffic. There was heavy police deployment at the roundabout. As many as 18 platoon police forces were in position with the metal barricades.    

Around that time, with an aim to mount pressure on the ruling government to remove Minister of State for Home Dibya Shankar Mishra for his alleged link with Govinda Sahu, the prime accused in sensational Mamita Meher murder case and give justice to the slain lady teacher’s family, the BJYM activists took out a massive rally from the party office (near Ram Mandir) and marched towards the Odisha Legislative Assembly. They were out to gherao the Assembly. The rally was taken out under the leadership of BJYM president Irasis Acharya and there were the saffron party’s legislators and leaders in the rally. 

As the rally reached Master Canteen square and the leaders and activists were about to take turn towards the Asssembly, the police confronted them, leading to a pitched battle. 

While the forces were trying to stop the activists from going ahead, the latter were seen attacking the men in khaki. Later, stones were pelted at them. A van was also targeted. In order to control the activists, the police had to resort to baton charge. Some of the activists were also picked up.  

Meanwhile, the leaders and some activists broke the first barricade and staged a dharna at the second barricade. 
The BJP alleged that the police used brute force to suppress them. “We have been demanding removal of the Minister of State for Home. But the Chief Minister is maintaining a silence over this. We will intensify our protest and continue it until our demand is met,” said Irasis Acharya. 

Thakur Ranjit Das, secretary, BJP, said, “The ruling party is using police force to quell our protest and is trying to suppress the issue. But we will not let Minister Dibya Shankar Mishra go scot free.”

On the other hand, the BJD devised a strategy to counter the Opposition party. Protesting against the Centre’s failure in curbing the price rise, soaring prices of petrol, diesel and LPG gas, the party activists took out a bike rally from the party office (near Capital Hospital) and went around the city and reached Sachivalay Marg where a mass protest meeting was organized. 

The BJP termed it as a trick of the BJD to divert the issue. “The Centre has already stopped grants worth Rs 60,000 crore to us (Odisha). The protest against the Centre has turned into a people’s agitation,” observed organising secretary, BJD, Pranab Praksh Das.

Taking a dig at the ruling government, BJP spokesperson Biranchi Tripathy said the BJD does not have any issue to counter the saffron party’s move. “Today’s bike rally was designed only to save their faces as BJD Ministers are involved in crimes like murder,” he alleged.     

Terming today’s incident as unfortunate, Police Commissioner Saumendra Priyadarshi said that as many as 15 policemen, starting from constables to ACPs, were injured in the scuffle. “Necessary actions will be taken against the protestors as per law,” he said.

Worth mentioning, Odisha Chhatra Congress has given a call to gherao Odisha Legisltaive Assembly on Friday.