Social Media Ban Lifted, Curfew Eased in Odisha's Bhadrak

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Social Media Ban Lifted, Curfew Eased in Odisha's Bhadrak

Thirty seven platoons of security forces have been deployed in Bhadrak to maintain law and order.

Bhadrak, Odisha:  Days after a Facebook post triggered communal violence in Odisha's Bhadrak district, internet services have been restored and the curfew, first imposed on April 7, was relaxed for nine hours today, Bhadrak Collector Gyana Ranjan Das said. Schools, colleges, hospitals, government offices, banks and ATMs remained open amid tight security cover. Vehicular movement was also normal, he added.

"The decision to lift the ban on internet was taken after the situation improved in the area," Mr Das said.  Arrangements are being made to ensure availability of essential commodities, Revenue Divisional Commissioner, Central, AB Ota said. Assessment of loss of property caused by violence is also being done, he said.

Violence erupted 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 police have arrested a man in his early 20s, Mohammad Asif Khan, responsible for the controversial Facebook post against Lord Ram and Sita. The young man is the son of a Biju Janata Dal supporter Asghar Ali, who says Mr Khan is innocent.

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Around 100 people have been detained in connection with the violence triggered by the alleged abusive post. Social media platforms had remained inaccessible since April 9 after the state government imposed restrictions in Bhadrak and nearby areas to prevent the spread of rumours and escalation of tension.

Bhadrak Superintendent of Police Dilip Das said the situation has remained peaceful. Thirty seven platoons of security forces (around 1,300 personnel) have been deployed in Bhadrak to maintain law and order. Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) are also assisting the state police in maintaining law and order, police said.

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