24 injured in cane charge, 4 cops suspended

Puri: At least 24 people including 10 priests and 14 devotees were injured in a cane charge by police to control the surging crowd atop `Nandighosh`, the chariot of Lord Jagannath at Gundicha temple here on Monday.

The incident took place when the police tried to control the large number of devotees jostling atop the wooden chariot to watch the `Abakash` ritual of Lord Jagannath, officials said.

The Jagannath temple administration in a departure from centuries-old tradition had provided an aluminium ladder to let the devotees climb the three majestic chariots for a glimpse of the deities, who were taken to Gundicha temple during the Rath Yatra festival yesterday, they said.

Public viewing of the dieties on the chariots came to a halt after the police action and priests stopped the rituals for sometime before the `Pahandi` (gentle rocking) of the deities, they added.

The Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, the district administration was looking into it and "appropriate action will be taken."

Four policemen were suspended in connection with the incident after preliminary inquiry, officials said.

The policemen deployed near the chariot were shifted after the incident and discussions were held with the priests to sort out the matter, Puri SP Amitendra Nath Sinha said.

The injured were rushed to the district headquarters` hospital and the rituals were resumed after an intervention of district, temple, police administrations and political leaders as priests demanded stern action against the guilty policemen, he added.

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