BHUBANESWAR:Slamming the State Government for the police excess on Belabahali villagers in Keonjhar district seeking realignment of a bridge over Kusei river, the BJP on Sunday demanded a judicial probe into the incident.
Justifying the peaceful agitation by the villagers demanding a change in the alignment of the proposed bridge, president of the BJP’s State unit KV Singhdeo told reporters here that his party condemned the lathicharge by police and indiscriminate arrest of villagers.
“The police crackdown on agitators at Belabahali near Anandpur was engineered by ruling BJD Government to divert the attention of people from mismanagement in Nabakalebara rituals and non-completion of infrastructural works for the mega event,” Singhdeo said.
Alleging that 114 people have been arrested from Belabahali since July 7, Singhdeo said the State Government has foisted a reign of terror in the village by making indiscriminate arrest including women and disconnecting power during the night.
At least seven of the women arrested have infants below one year of age, he said adding, power supply to the village was being snapped everyday from 7 pm to 7 am to intimidate the villagers.
Besides, police have cordoned off the village from all sides and restricted movement of the villagers.
Singhdeo, who led a 12-member delegation of the party to the village on Saturday to assess the situation, said the villagers were peacefully agitating as the authority concerned failed to address their fear of flood looming large on Belabahali and five other panchayats with a population of over 25,000.
Even the field inspection report of the Works Department said the demand of people for realignment of the bridge satisfies National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) norms.
“We fully support the agitation of the villagers. The arrested persons should be immediately released or produced before the magistrate,” he said.
Singhdeo said his party will take up the matter of the realignment of the bridge with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.