260 injured in Odisha coalgate protests
Bhubaneswar: Thousands of Congress workers clashed with the police on Thursday when they tried to gherao the Odisha Assembly building demanding resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik over the coalgate row leaving around 260 people including 60 police personnel injured.
A woman police constable, who was allegedly thrashed and dragged by the Congress protesters, and another policeman were among the injured and they are in a critical condition, official sources said.
The police resorted to baton charge when water cannons and teargas failed to disperse the opposition protesters on the MG road close to the assembly building, police sources said.
Armed with sticks, the demonstrators fought a pitched battle for three hours trying to break a barricade and threw stones at the police, the sources said.
Police and hospital sources said around 260 people including 60 policemnen were injured in the violence.
DGP Prakash Mishra said the police was prepared to handle the protests but did not expect `organised hooliganism`.
Congress leaders including Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, however, alleged that policemen jumped the barricade and beat up party workers as their meeting was in progress.
Also among the injured were DCP Nitinjeet Singh, OPCC President Niranjan Patnaik and his senior party colleagues Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and Tara Prasad Bahinipati, police sources said.
The protesters had gathered to demand the resignation of Patnaik alleging his involvement in the coal allocation scam and irregularities in supply of fertiliser and rice.
The demonstrators were addressed by AICC general secretary in-charge of Odisha Jagdish Tytler and Niranjan Patnaik who alleged that the BJD government was the most corrupt in history of the state.
Rejecting the allegations, the chief minister said Congress was in the habit of making baseless charges though people knew about the scams in which the Congress-led UPA government was involved.
Accusing the state government of depriving the poor of rice and wheat provided by the Centre, the Congress leaders also alleged that the BJD government was providing only 25 kg per family against 35 kg given by the central government under various schemes like Antyodaya Anna Yojana and for BPL people.
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