ROURKELA: After two days of prohibitory orders due to communal tension, normalcy returned to Rourkela to a certain extent on Thursday. Shops and markets operated normally during the day.
However, as a precautionary measure, police decided to extend closure of shops and commercial establishments along the Main Road stretch during evening hours for the next the couple of days depending on further development.
Police said shops and commercial establishments were asked to close by 6 pm on Wednesday, but it was changed to 8 pm on Thursday in view of shopping needs for Biswakarma Puja.
Rourkela SP Anirudh Singh claimed the situation has returned to normalcy, but deployment of 20 platoons of force would continue. He said three more persons, accused of fomenting communal trouble, were arrested on Thursday and more such arrests would be made. Till now, 14 persons have been arrested for communal tension.
Owing to communal disturbances near the minority-dominated Nala Road area of the Main Road stretch during Ganesh idol immersion late on Monday night, commercial activities were paralysed for two days. Late on Monday night, police had to use force to quell the rampaging mob indulging in torching vehicles. Force was applied again on Tuesday evening when a mob staged road blockade near the District Police Headquarters, while efforts to restore normalcy on Wednesday was marred by repeated provocative rumours.
Meanwhile, immersion of Ganesh idols at the communally-sensitive Rajgangpur town, about 35 km from Rourkela, was completed on Thursday evening peacefully amid deployment of 22 platoons of police. IG of Police (IGP) - Western Range - RK Sharma, Sundargarh Collector Bhupendra Singh Poonia and Sundargarh SP Nikhil Kanodia were camping at Rajgangpur.
The IGP said that elaborate security arrangements were made with deployment of armed police on rooftops of houses on the congested procession route. Police are also keeping vigil on the crowds through surveillance cameras at sensitive areas. He said more than 50 Ganesh idols were taken for immersion and the procession was closed by 10 pm.
VHP condemns strife
A meeting of the Rourkela unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Thursday condemned the prevailing communal tension along the Rourkela Main Road area and blamed inadequate action from the Sundargarh administration and police for the unpleasant situation.
After the meeting, VHP secretary Krushna Patnaik, in a statement, said that the cosmopolitan Rourkela is a peaceful city. It said in recent times, a series of incidents aimed at inciting communal disturbances were witnessed at Rourkela and neighbourhood, but the police and administration have failed to act. The statement further said the peace committee formed about 15 years ago has become redundant.