As the violence-hit town turned near normal, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today visited Bhadrak and promised stern action against those responsible for violence and full compensation to all who suffered loss.
Amid a nine-hour relaxation period of curfew, Patnaik toured the violence-hit areas, interacted with the affected people and enquired into damages due to violence triggered by alleged abusive remarks against Hindu deities on social media.
After reviewing the situation with senior officials, the chief minister said those responsible for the violence would be punished.
Further, the state government would take strong steps to counter the divisive forces creating discord and violence in the name of religion and bringing misery to the peace loving people of Odisha, he said.
Appealing to the people to maintain peace and harmony, the chief minister said full compensation would be provided to the people affected in the violence and new vending zones constructed for rehabilitation of the affected street vendors.
The administration was directed to make proper assessment of damage and loss caused by violence for early compensation.
Before holding the review meeting at the district collectorate, Patnaik walked through areas like Puruna Bazar, Chandan Bazar and Apartibindha where people turned out in large numbers to narrate their plight.
As the situation improved further, the curfew, which was imposed on April 7, was relaxed from 7 AM to 4 PM to enable people to buy essential items besides facilitating normal activities, Bhadrak Collector Gyana Ranjan Das said.
Meanwhile, five persons were identified and interrogated by the cyber cell of Crime Branch of police in connection with circulation of rumours and objectionable messages on social media, a senior official said.
The ban imposed on social media sites in Bhadrak and nearby areas on April 9 was lifted last night following considerable improvement in situation. “The decision to lift the ban on Internet was taken in view of improvement in situation and also to facilitate banking transactions and other important operations in the area,” said an official.
No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the town today and if normalcy continued, the administration might think of relaxing the curfew for a longer period, he said.
During curfew relaxation period, educational institutions, government offices, banks and ATMs were open with security forces keeping vigil. Vehicular movement was also normal, he said.
The administration has made arrangements to ensure availability of essential commodities in sufficient quantities to prevent hoarding and price hike.
About 100 people have so far been arrested in connection with the violence, Bhadrak SP Dilip Das said adding that some sharp weapons and motorcycles had also been seized.
Thirty-seven platoons of security forces (around 1,300 personnel) have been deployed in the town. The Rapid Action Force (RAF) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) also assisted the state police in maintaining law and order, police said.
Violence had erupted in the town on April 6 after a group staged a demonstration near the Town police station demanding immediate arrest of those involved in posting alleged offensive remarks against Hindu deities on social media.
Though the administration clamped prohibitory orders, tension persisted and fresh violence was reported on April 7 despite a peace meeting. Escalation in tension prompted the administration to impose curfew on April 7.