19 more held for violence during Puri bandh

Puri: Making headway in the investigation into the violence during Puri bandh, police today arrested 15 more accused in connection with the incident. The total number of arrestees in the case has now risen to 42.

According to sources, police have filed cases against senior servitors-Binayak Das Mohapatra, Damodar Mahasuar, Somanath Khuntia, Bhavani Das Mohapatra and others.

Puri SP Sarthak Sarangi, said “These servitors are in the list of 47 persons identified to be involved in the violence during the bandh on basis of CCTV footage. All persons responsible for the violence will be arrested.”

Referring to the formation of peace committee, Sarangi said “The peace committee was not formed on the day of the incident. Rather, the meeting was called under pressure from protestors who threatened to continue agitation if they are not called for discussions.”

Meanwhile, servitor Binayak Das Mohapatra in a statement to the media has denied his involvement in any form of violence during Puri bandh. He even questioned the SP’s statements on the formation of peace committee.

Binayak said “The collector had publicly announced the formation of the peace committee and we were invited to be part of it.”

On his involvement in violence, Binayak said, “I would like to request the SP to show us a single footage showing our involvement in ransacking and burning of property during the bandh. We had no role other than assisting the police during the shutdown.”

“It is sad that cases have been filed against us in this matter. The people of Puri and the State know the truth. This is conspiracy against us for supporting servitors who have raised voice against the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA),” Mohapatra rued.

He further added, “We will take up the case in court and demand scrutiny of the footage for proof of our involvement.”

On the other hand, President of Samata Kranti Dal, Braja Kishore Tripathy has demanded investigation into the Puri bandh violence.

Tripathy said, “The state government and the police are claiming the incident to be a conspiracy. If that is so, it needs to be probed.”

On the other hand, police have also taken disciplinary action against its personnel for dereliction in duty. “Four constables and one havildar have been suspended in this case,” SP Sarangi informed.