Curfew relaxed in Bhadrak for 9 hrs

CerfewCurfew was relaxed for nine hours and educational institutions reopened today in Bhadrak, where violence had erupted after alleged abusive remarks were posted against Hindu deities on social media.

The curfew, which was imposed on April 7, was initially relaxed from 7 AM to 2 PM today and later extended by another two hours to enable people to procure essential items and do their daily chores, Bhadrak Collector Gyana Ranjan Das said.

Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) Central, A B Ota, said the decision to relax the curfew for a longer period was taken after a thorough review and assessment of the situation in the violence-hit town. No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the town till noon, he said.

Educational institutions, government offices, banks and ATMs were open even as security forces kept a vigil. Vehicular movement was also normal, Das said. Social media platforms, however, remained blocked in the area to prevent spread of rumours, Director General of Police K B Singh said.

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People stepped out of their houses to purchase milk, bread and vegetables after the curfew relaxation was announced through the public address system this morning. Essential items were available in adequate quantities, Ota said.

Over 80 people have so far been arrested in connection with the violence, the DGP said. Social media platforms remained blocked after the state government restricted access to them in Bhadrak town and nearby areas since April 9 to prevent the spread of rumours, a senior official said.

Thirty-seven platoons of force (around 1,300 personnel) have been deployed in the town to maintain law and order. Violence had erupted in the town on April 6 after a group staged a demonstration near the Town police station demanding immediate arrest of those involved in allegedly posting offensive remarks against Hindu deities on social media.

Though the district administration clamped prohibitory orders, tension persisted and fresh violence was reported on April 7 despite a peace meeting. The escalation in tension prompted the administration to impose curfew on April 7.

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