Tension in Ganjam over detention of people

Berhampur: Tension prevailed in Badagada village of Ganjam district where eight people were brunt to death by a mob on Friday night as police rounded up hundreds of people.

In protest against the police action, several villagers, including women, staged a dharna and blocked the road between Sheragada and Badagada on Sunday, police said.

Residents of nearby villages in Kulagada panchyat of Sheragada block under Hinjili, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik`s constituency, reportedly participated in the dharana.

"We have detained around 90 persons. Those found to be involved in the gruesome incident will be forwarded to court", SP (Ganjam) Nitinjit Singh said.

Over 200 police personnel were deployed in the village under Badagada police limit, about 60 km from here.

DIG (Southern Range) R K Sharma said SP (Ganjam) was supervising the matter and the real culprits behind the ghastly incident would be booked very soon.

Initially, police suspected seven persons of a stone crusher unit were burnt to death by the villagers. But doctors later said the death toll had risen to eight.

Five bodies have been identified and handed over to the relatives. The situation in the village was under control, the SP said.

Police suspected the incident was the fallout of a long standing dispute between the crusher unit owners and the villagers, who strongly opposed the establishment of the unit and also stone quarry at Sindhiguda, near their village.

Meanwhile, the Opposition parties blamed the district administration for ignoring the plea of the villagers for which they took law into their own hands. The party leaders demanded judicial inquiry into the incident.

The situation could have been averted had the district administration taken precautionary measures, former deputy speaker and BJP leader Ram Chandra Panda, Congress Committee (Ganjam district unit) president Bhagaban Gantayat and CPI-M leader A K Patnaik said.