Fresh skirmishes broke out between members of a minority community and the police officials over the demand of lifting of containment order that was imposed on a certain location in Rourkela city last month after coronavirus cases were detected from the region.
A scuffle erupted after locals removed barricades in the area that was recently de-contained by the police on May 26. At least 40 people have reportedly been hurt in the scuffle that ensued after the Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) Commissioner ordered on Monday night to withdraw restrictions from the buffer zone and reduced the containment zone to half the previous size. Among those injured, more than 12 are police officials.
The locals staged a protest on Tuesday demanding relief from curbs as they were not getting essential commodities. They also alleged that the city administration was not doing enough to alleviate their concerns.
According to the sources, the protesters came out on the streets at 2 AM in the intervening night of May 25-26 but were placated by the police as they asked for time from the protesters to address their grievances.
However, before any decision was taken by the administration, the restive mob of over 2000 people, many whom were residents of the Mahtab Road locality, broke police barricades and chairs at the police camps and ran riot, attacking those who came on their way and erratically resorted to stone-pelting. The police acted against the miscreants by baton-charging them and hurling tear gas shells at them but the rampage by the violent mob continued unabated.
The protesters were pacified after DIG (Western Range) Kavita Jalan reached the spot and assured them that their grievances will be addressed. Sundargarh Collector Nikhil Pawan Kalyan also reached the location and held discussions with the senior administrative and law enforcement officials to bring the situation under control. He assured that appropriate action will be taken as per the law.
As per the new order, the containment zone has been trimmed down to half of its earlier size and the southern side of Rourkela’s main road from Janata Nivas Lane to AB Lane has been earmarked as containment zone. Restrictions have been lifted from the other side of the containment zone and the entire buffer zone.
Past attacks on front-line workers in Rourkela
This is not the first time that the people from the minority community had resorted to violence and stone-pelting against the police personnel. They have frequently entered into skirmishes with the police.
Earlier this month, residents of a Coronavirus containment zone (Nala Road) in Rourkela, Odisha, reportedly attacked ground-level health workers who had gone to take away the contacts of a 29-year-old female Coronavirus patient for quarantine.
The patient had tested positive for the Chinese virus on May 4 and was subsequently admitted to Hi-Tech COVID Hospital in Rourkela. The team of health workers came under a volley of stones when they went for contact tracing of the said patient. Barricades that marked the points of entry and exit in the Coronavirus hotspot were also damaged.
When the police team went to tackle the situation, the police team was reportedly attacked too. Locals gathered to pelt stones at the police team.