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Sharmili Mallick

Keonjhar: Days after a violent scuffle broke out in Karagola village under Nandipada police limits here wherein locals were accused of attacking police and ransacking their vehicle, over 300 persons left the village in fear of getting arrested by the cops.

A lease holder, whose identification is yet to be established, had reportedly taken permission for mining at Ambo ghat along the banks of Baitarani River near Karagola village. However, he was allegedly involved in lifting sand from nearby areas apart from mining in Ambo ghat which irked the villagers. When flames of protest erupted, the lease holder took the help of local police and lifted sand from the region in their presence.

On January 28, when sand was being extracted, angry villagers gathered at the spot and opposed the drive which subsequently led to a scuffle with Nandipada police officials. The situation flared up after some unknown miscreants ransacked two police vehicles.

Following the incident, police registered a case against over 100 villagers of Karagola. The cops also entered the village late night on February 3 and arrested five villagers who were later court forwarded.

Soon, around 300 villagers including women fled their homes and have taken shelter at Madhukeshari village amid claims of fear of police action apprehending that their names would be dragged in the case.

“Police is harassing us, which is why we have left the village and staying at Madhukeshari. How do we survive like this,” alleged a villager.

Pleading innocence, the villagers further alleged that the goons of the Ambo Ghat leaseholder ransacked the police vans while they are being falsely framed in the matter.

Another village Alekh Jena alleged, “As we were protesting the illegal sand mining at the ghat, they (police) manhandled us. They also conducted midnight raids in the village and arrested six to seven villagers forcing us to leave the village. We want protection.”

“Despite repeated complaints before the concerned administration, no action was taken against the illegal miners. On January 28, the goons along with some police personnel transported two trucks of sand from the ghat. When we protested, they attacked us. We don’t know who pelted stones at the police vehicles. The administration should take steps to rehabilitate the villagers,” stated another villager.

However, officials of Nandipada police station are yet to comment on the matter.


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