A joint body of Orissa policemen on Thursday demanded withdrawal of the suspension of inspector Sadanand Pujari for 'assaulting' a magistrate last week, while the strike by Rourkela lawyers demanding his arrest entered the fourth day.
A Police Coordination Committee comprising Orissa Police Association and state constables, havildars, and sepoys confederation threw its weight behind Pujari, inspector in-charge of Uditnagar police station.
"When there are complaints of cognisable offences against both the responsible government officials, why has the government chosen to act only against the policeman," OPA president Sawarmal Sharma said in Cuttack and demanded withdrawal of the suspension order slapped on Pujari.
Rourkela police officers association on Wednesday had threatened to go on strike if Pujari's suspension was not withdrawn within three days. Both Pujari and the Panposh first class judicial magistrate Arun Patnaik had lodged first information reports following the latter's alleged assault in the police station.
In his FIR, Patnaik had said that on the night of April 2 when he was watching the World Cup victory celebration in front of his house, he was forcefully taken to the Uditnagar police station, where he was abused and physically assaulted. He alleged that Superintendent of police Diptesh Patnaik also advised him to compromise with the police.
Pujari, on the other hand, alleged in his FIR that the magistrate was drunk and was causing public nuisance on that night and obstructed him from performing his duties. The Orissa government had announced a judicial inquiry into the alleged assault and suspended Pujari on April 4.
The lawyers in Rourkela, who were on a strike, on Thursday blocked the busy main road in front of the civil court demanding Pujari's arrest and action against the SP. The Rourkela Bar Association has given a 12-hour Rourkela bandh call on Friday in support of their demand. The Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India-Marxist have appealed to the people to observe the bandh peacefully.
Work in offices like Road Transport, Civil Supplies and the Tehsil office was affected as the lawyers staged a dharna in front of these offices preventing movement of officials. The policemen questioned the rationale behind the lawyers' agitation saying it was an issue between a policeman and a judicial officer.
"We do not have any animosity with the lawyers over the issue and request them to refrain from their ongoing stir,"said constable confederation chief Padmanav Behera. A delegation of lawyers, under the directive of the High Court Bar Association arrived on Thursday, to study the matter and take stock of the situation.The Orissa government had submitted a status report in the Orissa High Court on the alleged assault on Wednesday.