Clashes in Odisha for godman’s arrest

Bhubaneswar, Aug 7 (IANS) A group of people, who were demanding arrest of self-styled godman Srimad Sarathi Baba over his alleged sexual escapades, on Friday clashed with security forces in Odisha’s Kendrapara, prompting police to use canes and lob teargas shells to disperse them.

The Crime Branch was inquiring into the alleged sexual escapades of the self-styled godman who had spent three days with his girlfriend in a Hyderabad-based hotel in July.

The clash left several injured from both the sides, a police officer said.

Police said the protestors blocked a road at Tinimuhani and pelted stones at them, forcing them to use canes and lob teargas shells.

Police in Kendrapara said they had prohibited an assembly of more than 10 people in Tinimuhani and Barimula area where the ashram of the self-styled godman is located.

Meanwhile, the Odisha government transferred Kendrapara SP Satish Gajbhiye with immediate effect following the clash. He was replaced by IPS officer Nitinjit Singh, sources in the chief minister’s office said.

Besides, the government directed Inspector General of Police R.P. Koche to reach the incident spot to take stock of the situation.

Delegations of the opposition Congress and BJP reached the spot and demanded action against the Baba and Gajabhiye.

BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra said Gajabhiye was behaving like a “Sardar of Gundas” (leader of goons) only to protect the godman.

Congress Odisha unit president Prasad Harichandan alleged that police excess against people was carried out at the behest of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

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