Naveen condemns violence at Cong rally

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday said that the violence during a Congress rally here was condemnable and people were shocked by the assault on a woman constable, while union minister Srikant Jena dubbed Odisha as a ‘police state’ where right to protest and democratic values have been lost.

“People are shocked over the incident that took place in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. Odisha is known for its peaceful atmosphere,” the chief minister said.

Stating that violence should be condemned, Patnaik said “the Congress has the habit of making false allegations against the BJD government ever since it came to power in 2000.”

Stating that the BJD government had lost moral authority to continue in office, Jena said “It seems Odisha has been converted into a police state where all the democratic values and right to protest have been completely buried.”

Jena, Union Minister of State for Statistics & Programme Implementation and Chemical and Fertilizers, alleged that Congress workers were ‘ruthlessly’ lathi-charged and water cannon and teargas used on the demonstrators with the police also entering the OPCC office.

In the assembly Congress legislators stormed the well protesting police excesses paralysing proceedings.

Shouting slogans against the Naveen Patnaik government and the police action, the opposition members attempted to climb the speaker’s podium.

At least 34 people have so far been arrested for the violence and attack on the woman constable, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Nihar Das said.

Investigation was being conducted with the help of CCTV footage to identify those who indulged in violence, he said.

Chairperson of the State Women’s Commission Jyoti Panigrahi, who met the the woman constable in hospital, said “We have started an investigation. The manner in which she was heckled and assaulted needs to be condemned.” She said that would submit a report on the incident.

Two major associations of police also threatened to agitate if those involved in attack on the woman constable and others were not arrested immediately.

Ruling BJD’s women’s wing president Pramilla Mallick said, “The lady constable was also molested by the mob of Congressmen. We demand stringent action against the culprits.”

While the Congress has given a call for an Odisha bandh on Monday against police excesses the youth, students and women wings of the ruling BJD planned to stage a dharna here today against ‘goonda raj’ by Congressmen on Thursday.