Bhubaneswar, Sep 7 (IANS) The thrashing and near-molestation of a woman constable by a mob during an anti-government rally here Thursday has triggered outrage, with activists and police Friday demanding strong action against the culprits.
"We want strong action against the culprits. Those responsible for the crime must be arrested immediately," Odisha police association president Sawarmal Sharma told reporters. He said a high level judicial probe or an investigation by the crime branch of the state police into the incident should also be ordered.
A team led by Pramila Mallik, Chief of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD)'s women's wing met the chairperson of the state commission for women Jyoti Panigrahi and demanded justice for the woman cop.
The Congress on the hand, apologized for the incident but blamed the government for sending women cops to the front even though it was not required. "When there were few women participants in the rally, what prompted the police to send woman cops to the forefront?" senior Congress leader Soumya Ranjan Patnaik told reporters.
"It is a sin to beat up a woman. We condemn it. But it was our workers who also rescued the woman," the party's in-charge of the state, Jagdish Tytler told reporters. He said it was the police which first used force on the protestors.
Since Thursday, local and national television channels have showed footage of protestors beating up the woman constable with bamboo sticks during the Congress rally held to demand the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on the issue of corruption.
The mob continued to thrash the woman with sticks even after she lay on the ground, trying to protect herself. A man was also seen kicking her, while another was seen pulling her hair. The woman was however subsequently rescued by some people and taken to a hospital where she is recovering from her injuries.
At least 100 people, including protestors and several policemen, were injured when the rally turned violent. The cops used water cannons, lobbed tear gas shells and resorted to batons to disperse the irate crowd after the rallyists allegedly stormed the barricade and attacked the police.
At least 33 people have been so far arrested in connection with the violence.