Amid tight security arrangements across the violence-hit Sambalpur, Hanuman Jayanti was celebrated on Friday with hundreds of devotees participating in processions in the western Odisha city.
The state government deployed around 1,500 security personnel in the city before the march in the evening, and the 'Maha Arati' event, the main attraction of the celebrations, was held in the presence of a huge posse of security personnel, an official said.
Altogether 35 groups observing Hanuman Jayanti took part in the processions, which started from Brukspal Hanuman temple in the evening and passed through sensitive areas.
Odisha observes Hanuman Jayanti on Maha Bisuba Sankranti which falls on April 14 this year.
District Collector Ananya Das along with DIG (North Central) Brijesh Ray and Sambalpur SP B Gangadhar were among the senior officers who were also on the streets to ensure peaceful processions.
“I have been assured by leaders of organisers that there will be no untoward incident during the festival. I have also cautioned all participants that stern actions will be taken against those who will create disturbances,” Das said.
The western Odisha city had witnessed a clash between two communities during a bike rally on Wednesday in the run-up to Hanuman Jayanti.
As the clash spilled over to the streets, many vehicles were damaged and some shops were set on fire.
A total of ten police personnel and around 12 Hanuman Jayanti coordination committee members, including its working president Damodar Kar, were injured in a stone pelting incident during the clash.
Altogether 32 people were arrested and sent to jail on the charge of rioting in Sambalpur. Some were also detained in the city.
“We may detain some more people who were involved in indulging in violence on Wednesday," the SP said.
The entire city is "under CCTV surveillance to monitor the movement of mischief mongers" and suspension of the internet services continues since Thursday to prevent the spread of violence in the area, Das said.
Prohibitory order under section 144 of CrPC too remained in force in Sambalpur city, where a flag march by security forces was conducted and foot patrolling was carried out on Thursday to instil confidence among the people.
The police also used drones in selected sensitive areas to keep a watch on the movement of mischief mongers, an officer said.
Security was also beefed up in six sensitive districts of the state ahead of the Hanuman Jayanti processions on Friday in the backdrop of violence in Sambalpur.
A senior police officer said security has been tightened in Bhadrak, Balasore, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Nabarangpur districts and Jeypore in Koraput to ensure peaceful passage of the processions.
All superintendents and deputy commissioners of police in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack have been directed to remain on alert, Additional Director General (Law and Order) R K Sharma said.
Koraput district administration has imposed prohibitory orders on organising rallies, processions and gatherings in Jeypore town till April 24 between 3 pm and 9 am.
Union Minister Giriraj Singh, who is on a visit to the coastal state, said at the Bhubaneswar airport, that Odisha is a peace-loving state.
"Throwing stones on a Hanuman Jayanti procession is not acceptable to either Odisha or any part of the country," he said.
A delegation of BJP MLAs, which visited Sambalpur during the day, met those injured in the clash.
The team of the saffron party legislators condemned the violence and blamed the BJD government in the state for "failing to control law and order" in the city.
(Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from a syndicated feed; only the image & headline may have been reworked by www.republicworld.com)