Chhattisgarh: Violent Protest Erupts After Satnami Religious Site Damaged

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Hundreds of vehicles set ablaze, offices vandalised amid clash with police

Team Clarion

BALODABAZAR — A protest by the Satnami community turned violent here on Monday, leading to extensive damage to public property and injuries to several persons. The unrest, sparked by anger over damage to a religious site, saw protesters in this Chhattisgarh district set fire to the offices of the collector and the Superintendent of Police (SP), as well as numerous vehicles.

Several police personnel were injured in the stone pelting, an official said, adding Chief Minister Vishnu Deo Sai was briefed on the situation by the chief secretary and the DGP.

On the intervening night of May 15-16, unidentified persons vandalised a ‘jaitkhamb’, a pillar worshipped by the Satnami community as a sacred symbol, near holy Amar Gufa in Giroudpuri Dham in Balodabazar district.

The situation escalated at the Dussehra ground of Giroudpuri, where thousands had been demonstrating for days. On Monday, the protestors marched to the collectorate and district panchayat office. Despite tight security and barricades, the police were unable to contain the crowd.

“Protestors set several vehicles on fire,” reported a local witness. “Half of the Bhatapar Collectorate office has been gutted due to the fire.”

Although three persons have been arrested for desecrating the religious site, the Satnami community is demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe. State Deputy Chief Minister Vijay Sharma has announced a judicial inquiry into the matter.

“Despite tight security arrangements and barricading of the collectorate premises, the police could not stop the protesters,” said Sadananda Kumar, Balodabazar SP. “Agitated people damaged the vehicles parked on the collectorate premises. Vehicles were vandalised and a large number of them were set on fire.”

During the chaos, protesters who had initially promised a peaceful demonstration became uncontrollable. They broke through barricades and began pelting stones, resulting in clashes with the police.

Expressing concerns, Deepak Bij, Congress chief in the state, appealed to the people to maintain peace. This unpleasant situation has arisen due to the negligence of the government, he said.’

“I appeal to the people to maintain peace. Do not take the law into your own hands. Violence can never be tolerated in a civilised society. Have faith in the law,” he said.

Efforts to restore calm are ongoing as the community continues to voice its demands for justice.

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