Sharmili Mallick

More than 20 BJP activists, including some women, were picked up by police for allegedly trying to barge into the famous Ramlingam Tank Park in Berhampur opposing the alleged dinner parties hoisted by the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leaders inside the lone amusement park in the Silk City.

It may be noted that the information board put up at the park said it has been closed for visitors from August 18 to 30. However, Ministers, MLAs and political leaders belonging to the ruling-BJD allegedly partied inside the park while it was shut for general public by the local administration.

A group of BJP activists reportedly gathered outside the park on Thursday night to protest the alleged ongoing party by the BJD workers and leaders and tried to barge into the park.

Police rushed to the spot after receiving information and stopped the saffron party workers from entering the park. This led to a scuffle between the police officials and the protesting BJP workers triggering palpable tension in the region.

Subsequently, over 20 BJP workers were picked up by the Berhampur Police and taken in vans. 

As per the local BJP workers' allegations, large number of BJD leaders, Ministers and their supporters had been engaged in late night parties inside the park for the last several days even though it was closed by the local administration.

Sources said, around 108 legislators of the ruling party are scheduled to visit the city by August 30 for the smart school programme.

Apart from denying entry to the locals, the administration is allegedly forcing local traders around the park to shut their shops after 3 PM, adversely affecting their business.

“While the situation of Coronavirus pandemic has been taking a toll on people's lives, over 20 BJD leaders are partying inside the park. This is a sheer negligence to the Covid curbs,” alleged a protesting BJP activist.

“Markets are being closed down early in the afternoon as part of the restrictions of the pandemic. On the other hand, the BJD workers are partying here and instead of stopping them, police is doing goondaism,” alleged another activist.

This act of the BJD leaders has been receiving vehement criticisms from locals while Opposition BJP has also strongly reacted to the alleged ‘VIP Culture’ and threatened to launch mass agitation if the park is not opened for public.

Ganjam district BJD President Ramesh Chau Patnaik had earlier said that parks like Ramlingam is rare in Odisha and as the MLAs are visiting the district, they are like guests. Therefore, they are given special treatment.

Yesterday, some members of the BJP staged a protest at the Berhampur Municipal Corporation’s (BeMC) office in the Silk City and submitted a memorandum to the Commissioner demanding the opening of the famous Ramlingam Park for public immediately.

(Edited By Pradeep Singh)