Communal tension spreads in Steel City, clash averted
ROURKELA: A communal clash, triggered by an objectionable post on WhatsApp, was averted in Rourkela due to timely action by police on late Thursday night. While prohibitory order was clamped in the area to prevent further flare-up of violence, palpable tension prevailed.
According to police, soon after an objectionable picture linked to Islam was circulated on the social networking site by a youth, protesters in large number gathered at the Main Road ahead of the Bahuda Yatra and disrupted traffic by burning tyres for about 90 minutes and also forced closure of shops till 5 pm.
Police persuaded the protestors to call off the blockade and restored normalcy with detention of the youth responsible for the sacrilegious post. The Bahuda Yatra passed off peacefully. In the evening, the saffron brigade blocked the road in front of Uditnagar office of Rourkela SP Anirudh Singh and damaged two auto-rickshaws. Members of Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal and Hindu Sena staged protest on the road demanding release of the youth and action against members of the minority community who allegedly assaulted him before he was detained by police.
VHP leader Nilakanta Mohanty claimed that the youth detained by police is a Hindu Sena activist and the WhatsApp issue was sorted out amicably with other minority community youths of his age group. But some Muslim youths on Thursday assaulted him and staged road blockade leading to his arrest, he added.
Meanwhile, tension spread from Daily Market to minority-dominated Nala Road under Plant Site police limits. While a group of Hindus had gathered at Daily Market, Muslims had gathered at Nala Road. Police were deployed to prevent communal clash. At around 10.30 pm an unidentified person threw a stone at the police patrol jeep at Daily Market injuring Inspector SN Muduli of Brahmani Tarang police station.
Apprehending a clash, police dispersed the crowd. Prohibitory order in and around Nala Road was also clamped. Senior police and administrative officers rushed to the spot and Panposh Sub-Collector Bimanshu Behera declared imposition of Section 144 of IPC. Sundargarh Collector Bhupendra Singh Poonia said the situation is tense but under control and senior officials are keeping a watch on the situation.