The Odisha government has shut down the Internet services and blocked social media platforms in the Sambalpur district for 48 hours from 10 a.m. on Thursday in view of communal tension that erupted during a Hanuman Jayanti rally.
The violence took place on Wednesday evening. Issuing a notification to this effect, the Odisha Home Department said, “It has come to the notice of the state government that on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti Sobhayatra, motorcycle procession undertaken by Hanuman Jayanti Samanyoya Samiti members, Bajarang Dal workers, etc., on April 12 evening at about 6 p.m.
“During the rally, there were clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Sambalpur town. The situation is critical and miscreants are circulating false and inflammatory messages through social media to disturb the public order in Sambalpur district,” it said.
“Messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and other such media. etc. have the potential to inflame communal passions thereby leading to acts causing disturbance of public order in the Sambalpur district.
“Therefore, in order to prevent the spread of such inflammatory and motivated messages to circulate in the social media platforms to disturb the public order in Sambalpur district and to restore peace and amity, the Home department has suspended Internet/data services, social media platforms, broadband and other means of Internet transmission.
“Deoranan Kumar Singh, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary to Government, Home Department, hereby promulgates the Notification under the provisions of Section 5 (2) of Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 read with Rule 2(1) of The Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency/Public Safety) Rules, 2017 to prohibit the use and access of the above types of Internet and data services, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and other social media for the next 48 hours beginning from 10 a.m. on April 13, 2023, in Sambalpur district,” read the notification.
More than 20 persons, including 10 police personnel were injured in the violence that erupted during the bike rally organized in Sambalpur town on the eve of Hanuman Jayanti on Wednesday evening.
In the melee, the Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) of Sambalpur and the Inspector in charge (IIC) of Dhanupali police station sustained serious injuries. The IIC, Anita Pradhan was immediately rushed to VIMSAR, Burla.
According to police, some miscreants hurled stones at the bike rally that started from Dhanupali Police Station Chhak and was crossing Motijharan Chhak, leading to a clash between two groups.
Following the violence, the Sambalpur district administration has imposed prohibitory orders in the entire jurisdiction of six police stations in the Sambalpur area to maintain peace.
In Odisha, the Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated on Maha Vishuva Sankranti, which falls on April 14 this year. The state government has declared a holiday for Friday.
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