Balodabazar violence: Collector, SP suspended after transfer

The Uncut

Raipur. The state government has suspended the then collector and superintendent of police (SP) of Chhattisgarh’s Balodabazar-Bhatapara district after violence broke out during the agitation of the Satnami community on Monday in protest against the damage to a religious pillar. The collector and the superintendent of police were transferred after a large-scale arson incident took place in the district headquarters.
Late Thursday night, the General Administration and Home Department issued his suspension order.

The suspension order states that the then Collector KL Chauhan and the then SP Sadanand Kumar did not take appropriate action in the incident of vandalism of the ‘Jaitakham’ of the Satnami community in the district. On the intervening night of May 15 and 16 this year, unknown persons damaged the ‘Jaitakham’ or ‘Vijay Stambh’, a sacred symbol worshipped by the Satnami community, near the Vitra Amar cave in Girodpuri Dham in Balodabazar-Bhatapara district. The police later arrested three people in connection with the incident.

The community had called for a demonstration and gherao of the Collector’s office at Dussehra Maidan Balodabazar on June 10 to protest against the alleged demolition of the religious structure. Following arson and stone pelting during the protest, the district administration had imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which prohibits the gathering of four or more people in Balodabazar town till June 16. During the protest, the mob set a government office and more than 150 vehicles, including two-wheelers and four-wheelers, on fire in Balodabazar town.

The next day (on June 11), the state government transferred Balodabazar Collector KL Chauhan and SP Sadanand Kumar to the secretariat and police headquarters here without giving them any portfolios. The suspension order of the two officers states that disciplinary action is pending against the two officers after receiving a complaint that the district administration and police did not take appropriate action in the incident of vandalism of the religious structure of the Satnami community in Balodabazar-Bhatapara last month.

According to the order, the then Balodabazar-Bhatapara Collector KL Chauhan (State Cadre Service officer who became IAS in 2009 batch) and the then SP Sadanand Kumar (2010 batch IPS officer) have been suspended with immediate effect.
On Tuesday, the police had said that seven FIRs have been registered in connection with the arson incident and 12 police teams have been formed to trace those involved in the arson.

State Food Minister Dayaldas Baghel and Revenue Minister Tank Ram Verma, in a joint press conference, had accused Congress leaders of inciting the crowd during the protest. Baghel had said, “Such a crime can never be committed by the Satnami community which gives the message of peace and brotherhood. There is a political conspiracy behind this entire incident. This incident is the result of a well-planned conspiracy of the Congress.” The minister had said that more than two hundred people involved in arson have been arrested in connection with the incident.

Countering, the Congress had claimed that the minister had made baseless allegations against the old leaders of the opposition party to hide the failure and incompetence of his government. Meanwhile, the state government on Thursday appointed a one-member judicial commission headed by Justice CB Bajpai, a retired judge of the Chhattisgarh High Court, to investigate the incident.
According to the order, the commission will submit its report to the state government within three months. Baba Ghasidas, a famous saint of Chhattisgarh, founded the Satnam sect. Among the scheduled castes of the state, a large number of people belong to the Satnami community and this community is one of the influential communities here.

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