Police-Lawyer Spat: Lawyers agitation takes an unruly turn

Cuttack/Balasore: Two days after the BJD legal front withdrew its support from the ongoing lawyers’ strike, the agitating lawyers Monday threatened of a state-wide agitation and staged demonstrations outside various courts in different places across the State.

Reportedly, the members of the legal front withdrew their support after the Orissa High Court Bar Association declared to burn effigy of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in front of 164 Bar Associations across the State on October 31. They had also announced to join court proceedings from today.

Protesting this, hundreds of members of Bar Association staged demonstration in front of the gates of the Orissa HC today and prevented the lawyers of the BJD legal front from entering the court triggering tension in and around the court premises.

“They are trying to suppress our voice and we will not bear it. We are united and the agitation will continue till our demand is fulfilled,” rued a protesting lawyer outside the HC.

Despite deployment of 25 platoons of police in the area, a woman was allegedly heckled by activists of the Biju Yuva Vahini this morning outside the High Court.

Meanwhile, Senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra requested the Odisha Law Minister and concerned department’s Secretary to resolve the deadlock at the earliest.

“The Orissa HC Bar Association has its dignity and it is the responsibility of all the lawyers across the State to upkeep that. The lawyers’ agitation has crossed all limits as it has denied justice to everyone. The number of prisoners has also increased following the strike. The matter should not be stretched further and the Law minister and department secretary should resolve the issue after holding talks with representatives of the agitating lawyers,” said Mohapatra.

“There was a clash inside HC premises. Be it BJD or BJP such incidents are not healthy for a democracy. We will resort to agitation if the State government fails to resolve the issue by November 2,” said senior Congress leader, Tara Prasad Bahinipati.

BJP’s Samir Mohanty on the other hand alleged that Biju Yuva Bahini was behind the unrest near High Court campus.

“Biju Yuva Bahini members brandishing knives and other sharp weapons were present at the spot and even they did not hesitate to attack women advocates,” said Mohanty.

BJD leaders on the other hand refuted the allegations levelled by BJP and Congress.

“Why the name of Biju Yuva Bahini is being dragged unnecessarily? BJP is trying to politicise the issue,” alleged BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb.

On the other hand, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Niranjan Patnaik lambasted the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for being a mute spectator and act like ‘Gandhari’ (blindfolded queen of Mahabharat).

“Even after repeated appeals from us, the matter wasn’t solved by the CM and of late, the agitation has taken a political turn. The CM should not remain mum and behave like ‘Gandhari’,” Patnaik stated.

As per reports, the lawyers of Balasore Bar Association also locked up the main gate of District & Sessions Judge Court and burnt tyres in support of the agitation. The agitating lawyers also opposed the District & Sessions Judge Ramashankar Hota who came to hold camp court in Balasore jail.

However, the Sambalpur District and Sessions Judge held Camp court inside the Sambalpur Circle Jail.

It may be noted that on October 27, the HC had directed all the District & Sessions Judges to hold camp courts in jails in order to avoid over-crowding in jails across the State due to the ongoing stir.

“Unless the State Government turns up to us for an open discussion, the agitation will continue,” threatened an agitating member of Balasore Bar Association, Sashidhar Ranjit.

Another lawyer Bijay Panigrahi said, “The Government has to issue a notification and an amendment has to be brought in the CrPC to hold circuit courts. It is not only the matter of HC. There are certain procedures which are required to be followed.”

On the other hand, the Mayurbhanj Lawyers’ Association also extended its support to the HC Bar Association and burnt tyres in front of the District & Sessions Judge Court in Baripada. They also stopped the judges from entering the court premises, sources said.

The Bhubaneswar Bar Association also staged demonstration in front of the Court of the Districts & Sessions Judge as a mark of the protest.

“We are a community and there is no political party like BJD or BJP in it. We want the arrest of the culprits. After that we will decide on further course of action,” said a lawyer in Bhubaneswar.

It is pertinent to mention that the lawyers of the HC Bar Association are on an indefinite cease work strike since the last two months protesting the alleged assault on a colleague by police personnel in Cuttack on August 28. They have been demanding the arrest of the police personnel involved in the attack.

 

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