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Irate mob ransacks outpost after cop prevents Azaan in Odisha


PARADIP: An irate mob comprising members from a minority community allegedly ransacked a police outpost and torched the personal vehicle of a police officer after he warned village leaders of action for violating Covid-19 guidelines in a mosque in Jagatsinghpur district.

It all started after Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of Krishnanandpur outpost imposed restriction on Azaan (Islamic call for prayer) in all mosques in its jurisdiction on Tuesday night.

OIC Anirudha Nayak alerted all mosques in Krishnanandpur panchayat under Tirtol police station limits not to give Azaan and adhere to the Covid-19 protocols. The panchayat has 20 villages having at least one mosque each.

Members of the community said mass congregation for prayers is prohibited in all mosques, but there is no restriction on Azaan. Though congregational prayers are suspended, Namaz can be offered at home.

“Wearing shoes the OIC forcibly entered the mosque when some members were discussing calling Azaan by maintaining social distancing norms. He beat up some of them and threatened to arrest if they do not adhere to the rules and regulations,” said village leader Sk Alsar Alli.

Aggrieved on the police excesses, irate members of the community demonstrated in front of the outpost demanding stern action against the errant cop. Later they ransacked the outpost and torched personal vehicle of the OIC.

Alli alleged people got infuriated when police restricted the call of Azaan in mosques as the government has not banned it. Local police do not understand the difference between Azaan and Namaz. Due to social distancing norms, offering Namaz at mosques is prohibited but there is no restriction on Azaan, he added and demanded action against the police officer.

Nayak refuted the allegation and said the members of the community had also kept their shoes in front of mosques. “I entered the mosque without shoes and warned them of action for violating social distancing during Namaz,” he added.

Collector Sangram Keshari Mohapatra and SP Prakash R rushed to the spot and assured the villagers to withdraw the OIC from the outpost. They allowed to call Azaan following which the irate people called off their stir.

In the latest development, SDPO Deepak Kumar Jena informed Nayak has been temporarily withdrawn from the outpost. Two platoon police forces have been deployed in the panchayat to avert any untoward incident further.

Meanwhile, Nayak has lodged a complaint at Tirtol police station against around 300 people for ransacking Krishnanandpur outpost and torching his personal vehicle. Police are investigating the allegation.