JAGATSINGHPUR: Members of a particular community ransacked a police outpost and torched the private vehicle of a police officer after being restricted from gathering inside a mosque in violation of COVID-19 guidelines at Krishanandapur panchayat in Tirtol on Tuesday night.
The community members went berserk after officer-in-charge (OIC) of Krishnanandpur police outpost Anirudha Nayak alerted all mosques under the panchayat in Tirtol not to give Azaan (Islamic call for prayer) and adhere to the COVID-19 protocols. Krishanandapur has 20 villages having at least one mosque each since the area is dominated by the minority community.
On being informed about the police directive, village leader SK Alsar Ali and 28 community members held a meeting in Akhunmahala mosque. Ali said mass congregation for prayers is prohibited in all mosques, but there is no restriction on Azaan.
Though congregational prayers are suspended, Namaz can be offered at home. "Villagers were unhappy over the restriction on Azaan. The police does not understand the difference between Azaan and Namaz. The situation turned ugly when the OIC forcibly entered the mosque with his shoes on and threatened to book us for violating COVID-19 guidelines," Ali said.
He also alleged that the police caned some of the persons present inside the mosque and threatened to arrest them if they do not adhere to the rules and regulations. In protest, community members staged demonstration in front of the police outpost demanding stern action against the OIC. The agitators ransacked the outpost and torched the personal vehicle of Nayak.
On the other hand, OIC Nayak refuted the allegations. “Since everyone had removed their shoes outside the mosque, I too did the same before entering. I only warned them of action for not wearing masks and violating social distancing norm,” he said.
Collector Sangram Keshari Mohapatra and SP Prakash R rushed to the spot and assured the agitators to remove Nayak from the outpost. The protest was called off after the administration allowed Azaan in mosques.
Tirtol SDPO Deepak Jena said the OIC has been temporarily withdrawn from the outpost. Two platoons of police force have been deployed in the village to maintain law and order. Meanwhile, Nayak lodged an FIR with Tirtol police against 300 people for ransacking the outpost and torching his personal vehicle.