Failure of the State administration to curb the violence in Sambalpur condemned, Appeal to restore peace


The ‘ GANATANTRIKA ADHIKAR SURAKSHAA SANGATHAN (GASS), Odisha, while expressing its grave concern over the communal violence that broke out in Sambalpur city (western part of Odisha bordering Chhatishgarh) on Wednesday, April 12, when a motorcycle rally was organised  in the run-up to  Hanuman Jayanti and also during the Hanuman Jayanti procession* which was held on Friday, April 14, strongly condemns the failure of the state administration to maintain law and order, and seeks for the speedy recovery of the civilians and police officials injured in the attack.

GASS, Odisha offers its condolences to the bereaved members of family of the deceased youth who was attacked and murdered on Friday night and demands for immediate framing of charges against the culprits involved in the murder. In a peace-loving state like Odisha, it would be appropriate on the part of the communal forces to focus on the economic upliftment of the people of Odisha and to remove social inequalities among the people instead of resorting to such violence.

‘Ambedkar Diwas’ has been celebrated as ‘Dalits’ Rights and Constitution Protection Day’ within the state as well as across the country to protect the rights of Dalits and defend the Constitution. For the first time in Odisha, Hanuman Jayanti processions have been taken out in many places on the same day (‘Ambedkar Diwas’) by competing with ‘Ambedkar processions’. On behalf of GASS, Odisha, we strongly condemn the nefarious attempts made by the innovators of the Hanuman Jayanti procession to dilute the voice of Dalit-Rights.

According to media reports, the alleged criminal act of stone-pelting on bike rallyists by certain groups of people on Wednesday, April 12, is an example of religious intolerance and is completely condemnable. It was a commendable action on the part of the district administration to immediately impose Section 144  of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 in the city and call a Peace Committee Meeting of various stakeholders on Thursday i.e. on 13th April.

The Hanuman Jayanti Samanvaya Samiti, a stakeholder, did not intend to rely upon the efforts of the administration for restoration pf peace, and instead, gave a call for a 36-hour- bandh on Thursday and boycotted the administration’s peace committee meeting. All these actions of Hanuman Jayanti Samanvaya Samiti clearly indicated the nefarious tactics of the said Samiti and their agenda in this connection was something else but not the peaceful celebration of the festivity.

Despite the non-cooperation of the Hanuman Jayanti Samanvaya Samiti for causing restoration of peace and harmony in the city and although the restrictions  under section 144of Cr.PC was in place in the city, the Sambalpur district administration still granted  permission to hold Hanuman Jayanti procession inside the city on 14 Arpil by the  same Hanuman Jayanti Samanvaya Samiti.

This undesirable action from the part of the district administration has clearly set an example of breaking the provisions of Section 144 of the CrPC, imposed by itself. This vindicates further that the district administration and the state government have easily forgotten to play their constitutional role under pressure from religious majoritarian groups. This is a matter of grave concern for the peace-loving secular people of the entire state.

On Friday, April 14, some of the state’s senior MPs and MLAs of a particular political party, who had solemnly swore under an oath to defend the Constitution, they themselves also broke Section 144 of the CrPC. They brandished swords and other weapons in front of the Hanuman Jayanti procession only to create fear among peace loving citizenry under the nose of the district administration, who, in turn, preferred to remain dumb as a stump.

The whole episode justifies the mockery of the democracy and a trend towards the “politics of majoritarianism”. While the communal violence in the city had already taken place on night of the Wednesday (12 April), the peoples’ representatives instead of trying to bring peace and normalcy in the area, tried to provoke more after waving weapons in the air. This is inhuman and this goes against the spirit of the Indian constitution.

It must be admitted that the presence of religious bigots inside both (Hindu and Muslim) religious groups has disturbed the peace of Sambalpur city. We are grateful to the common people of Sambalpur that they, enriched with their past experiences of celebration of Hanuman Jayanti in previous years, have not allowed communal violence to linger any further despite the failure of the administration to maintain law and order.

We also salute the courage shown by the police personnel and their devotion to duty despite the scorching sun of cruel summer.

History of the city reminds us that from among the citizenry, Muslim people were present in Durga Puja Committees, Hindu members during Ramazan and senior members of Hindu-Muslim on Hanuman Jayanti and helped in smooth and peaceful organisation of pujas, festivals and processions in the city.

On behalf of GASS, Odisha, we request senior citizens of both religions and all secular organisations in the city to make joint efforts to restore peace and serenity.

We urge upon the government that the owners of the damaged shops and houses be given proper compensation, the perpetrators of the violence of both religious groups, Hindu and Muslim, be immediately arrested; a case  be registered under the Indian Penal Code against those who create fear among the people by brandishing machetes during the Hanuman Jayanti procession and compensation of Rs 10 lakh be given to the members of family of the deceased youth and the killers be awarded with exemplary punishment.

Dr. Golak Bihari Nath,

Deba Ranjan

Contact: [email protected]

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