Bhadrak violence: social media has been blocked for 48 hours in the Odisha town and nearby areas
Even as the Odisha government claimed that the situation was under control in Bhadrak town, which had witnessed violence last week triggered by alleged abusive remarks against Hindu deities, all social media platforms were blocked for 48 hours in Bhadrak and places close to the town as a precautionary measure to prevent spread of violence, a police official said.
"There are a lot of rumours. Fake photos were being circulated. That is why it has been blocked," Odisha Director General of Police KB Singh told NDTV.
The curfew in the town has been lifted this morning till noon, police said. A senior cop said the decision to relax the curfew was taken after reviewing the situation that showed signs of improvement with no untoward incident being reported from any part of the town since Saturday.
The prohibitory orders in the town were initially relaxed from 8 to 11 am on Sunday. The hours were extended until noon to facilitate people to buy essential commodities. The curfew was reimposed later.
The Crime Branch of the Odisha Police is investigating the case. "The Crime Branch cyber cell is investigating the WhatsApp data. The group admins have been asked to provide the data," Crime Branch Special Director General BK Sharma said.
The Odisha DGP told NDTV that 80 people have been arrested and eight First Information Reports (FIRs) filed in connection with the violence that erupted on Thursday after a group staged a demonstration at a police station in town demanding immediate arrest of those involved in posting alleged offensive remarks against Hindu deities on social media.
Around 35 platoons of police forces have been deployed across the town to avoid any untoward incident. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who attended the Inter-State Council Standing Committee meeting in New Delhi, said that he discussed the Bhadrak issue with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and he has assured all assistance to the state in restoring normalcy in the town.
Senior officials, including Home Secretary Asit Tripathy and Director-General of Police K B Singh, have been camping in Bhadrak to monitor and supervise the peace operation.
The DGP said the situation was now under control after some violent incidents took place in the town on Saturday, but there was no group clash and loss of life.
"Some people trying to disrupt communal harmony," Mr Singh said.
BJP leaders, including the party's Odisha unit president, Basant Panda and former MLA Pratap Sarangi slammed the BJD-led state government for arson in Bhadrak, adding that it was ironical that the Chief Minister was camping in Delhi at a time when the town was burning.