Social media ban lifted, curfew relaxed for 9 hrs in Bhadrak


Ban on social media sites was lifted and curfew relaxed for nine hours in Bhadrak today, while 100 people were arrested in connection with the violence triggered by alleged abusive remarks posted against Hindu deities on the Internet.

The curfew, which was imposed on April 7, was relaxed from 7 AM to 4 PM to enable people to buy essential items and do their daily chores, besides facilitating normal activities, Bhadrak Collector Gyana Ranjan Das said.

The decision to relax the curfew for a longer period was taken after a thorough review and assessment of the situation in the violence-hit town, Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central) A B Ota said.

No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the town today and if normalcy continues, the administration may think of relaxing the curfew for a longer period, he said.

Educational institutions, government offices, banks and ATMs were open even as security forces kept vigil. Vehicular movement was also normal, Das said.

The government lifted the restriction clamped on access to social media platforms on April 9 in Bhadrak and nearby areas following improvement in situation, a senior official said.

“The decision to lift the ban on Internet was taken in view of considerable improvement in situation and also to facilitate banking transactions and other important operations in the area,” he said.

Social media platforms had remained blocked after the state government restricted access to them in Bhadrak town and nearby areas since April 9 to prevent the spread of rumours and possible escalation of tension.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik said he will visit the violence-hit Bhadrak town tomorrow.

“I am planning to visit Bhadrak tomorrow,” he told reporters on his arrival in Bhubaneswar after a five-day visit to the national capital.

Meanwhile, Ota said arrangements are being made to ensure availability of essential commodities in sufficient quantities in the area to prevent hoarding and price hike.

Proper assessment of loss of property of poor people caused by the violence is being made and steps may be taken to compensate them, he said.

Around 100 people have so far been arrested in connection with the violence, Bhadrak Superintendent of Police Dilip Das said, while describing the situation as completely normal and peaceful.

Some sharp weapons and motor-cycles have also been seized from miscreants.

Thirty-seven platoons of security forces (around 1,300 personnel) have been deployed in the town to maintain law and order. Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) also assisted the state police in maintaining law and order, the 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 allegedly posting offensive remarks against Hindu deities on social media.

Though the district administration clamped prohibitory orders, tension persisted and fresh violence was reported on April 7 despite a peace meeting.

The escalation in tension prompted the administration to impose curfew on April 7 and subsequently block social media platforms on April 9 to check circulation of hate messages.