BHUBANESWAR: Traffic at Kalpana Square was paralysed for several hours on Monday as more than 200 members of Bhubaneswar Bar Association took to the roads protesting alleged police assault on a lawyer last week. Irate lawyers set a police jeep ablaze during the agitation.
Lawyers gathered outside the court premises after a meeting of their general body, where a decision was taken to go on an indefinite strike protesting the high handedness of police.
The roadblock began at 1 pm with lawyers blocking traffic on Cuttack-Puri road (NH-203).
The protestors were divided into two large groups, with one manning the roads in front of the Sessions Court and the other blocking traffic coming from Rasulgarh and Rajmahal.
The lawyers went on the rampage burning tyres and in the process, damaged a PCR van parked adjacent to Bhanja Kala Mandap.
Meanwhile, a few protestors surrounded a police jeep parked near State Museum and set it on fire. The commuters, who tried to go through the stretch of blocked road, were rerouted.
Surprisingly, while the agitated lawyers were busy in their act, a platoon of police personnel, deployed at the spot, stood as mute spectators.
Nihar Ranjan Sethi, a lawyer at District Sessions Court, Khurda, was allegedly assaulted by a few police personnel doing rounds in a PCR van late on Friday night, while he was on his way home. A grievously injured Sethi was admitted to the Capital Hospital.
A complaint against the alleged police assault was lodged in Badagada police station on Sunday. Association members had demanded the arrest of all four accused by Sunday afternoon.
Former secretary of Bhubaneswar Bar Association Prashant Sahu questioned that if police manhandle a lawyer regardless of the law, how safe was the common man. The lawyers will continue to protest until the accused are arrested, he added.
At 3.05 pm, additional police force was deployed at Kalpana Square. Four police vans blocked the incoming route and traffic to Kalpana Square outside the fire station.
The agitators were pacified after Police Commissioner R P Sharma assured them that the erring police personnel would be arrested within 24 hours.
“A special team comprising one additional DCP and two Inspectors has been formed to look into the matter. We will conduct an impartial probe and the progress of the investigation will be shared regularly. No one will be shielded,” Sharma said.
Traffic movement in the area was restored at 8 pm.