Odisha villagers clash with cops; 12 hurt on either side

Keonjhar,July 8: Tension prevails at Belabahali village on National Highway 215 in Anandpur subdivision of Odisha’s Keonjhar district after a clash between villagers and police today left 12 injured on either side.

Thousands of villagers clashed with the police opposing the construction  of a high level bridge over river Kusei at Belabahali village.

About 100 protesters have been arrested, police said.

Villagers opposed to the construction of the proposed bridge at a particular location in the area were on a dharna on the National Highway demanding relocation of the proposed bridge on river Kusei.

As talks between the villagers and the administration failed to resolve the issue on Monday, agitated locals blocked the flow of traffic on either sides of the National Highway this morning. 

The protesters allegedly also torched a site camp of a contractor firm Gayatri Constructions. A clash ensued when police tried to lift the blockade and prevent them going on a rampage.

While Keonjhar SP is himself at the spot, 15 platoons of policemen have been deployed at the spot. The situation is said to be currently under control, reports said.

"The way the police has attacked the agitators, used tear gas against them and injured them, it  had never happened in the district. I do admit that both sides have sustained injuries. But the police used force and attacked the villagers. They have been beaten up. Is the bridge being constructed for the public or for the contractor, who is a BJD member? The location is not very far from the district headquarters.

The administration should have sorted out the issue through negotiations. Instead, it has used force to make people yield," said Jena.

Meanwhile, the injured woman sub inspector and another sub inspector have been shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack as their condition worsened.

Besides, the local BDO, who was also also injured in the incident, has been hospitalised.