Central RDC to probe Namtara incident

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government today announced an administrative probe into alleged police firing at Namtara village in Kendrapara district where 13 persons including women were injured even as opposition Congress and BJP created a pandemonium in the Assembly over the issue.

“An administrative inquiry will be conducted by the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), central division, into Namtara village violence where some women and police persons were injured in a clash on March 8,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister B K Arukh informed the Assembly while replying to an adjournment debate on behalf of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The issue of Namtara village incident came up in the Assembly after the House condoled death of two former members on the first day of the second leg of the Budget Session.

Shouting slogans, opposition Congress and BJP members rushed into the well demanding a statement from the chief minister, who is also the home minister, following which Speaker Niranjan Pujari adjourned the House twice till 12.30 PM.

While Congress MLAs waved torn sarees claimed to have been collected from the incident site, Basanta Panda, leader of the BJP legislature party, displayed a bullet.

Opposition members displayed posters and placards mocking BJD’s slogans like ‘Maa ku Samman’.

The opposition, however, withdrew its agitation as Pujari allowed a debate on the issue.

Terming the incident as barbaric and illegal, leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra demanded formation of a House Committee to probe into the incident and registration of criminal cases against the collector and superintendent of police besides their transfer from Kendrapara district.

“Police firing was illegal as there was no magistrate’s order for this. The police opened fire injuring women and unarmed villagers in order to protect interest of a liquor vendor. The liquor shop is run by a police man in fictitious name,” Mishra said while raising question on Chief Minister’s absence in the House.

Terming Patnaik’s absence, during a debate on a highly sensitive matter where women were attacked by the police for demanding closure of a liquor shop, as “unfortunate”, Mishra said, “I condemn such action on part of the chief minister who is also the home minister of the state.”

Claiming that police opened fire and resorted to lathi charge on women agitators, Mishra said “Patnaik’s father late Biju Patnaik as the chief minister of Odisha during 1990-95 had called upon women to destroy liquor shops. Now Biju Patnaik’s son takes action against women who demand closure of liquor shops.”

Seeking to justify his claim that villagers were injured in police firing, Mishra displayed a used cartridge in the house.

“This cartridge was recovered from the body of a villager today,” Mishra said, adding, it was a shame on the government that police opened fire to protect a liquor vendor.

BJP legislature party leader Basant Panda demanded withdrawal of cases against the villagers and formation of a House Committee to probe the incident.

Replying to the debate, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Arukh said police had opened fire in the air as the villagers pelted stones and assaulted a lady woman police officer.

“The police maintained maximum restrain and resorted to blank firing to disperse villagers who had been attacking the policemen and women,” Arukh said.

Claiming that the situation was under control at Namtara village, the minister said the state government had provided free of cost treatment to 13 people including nine villagers.