Berhampur, Apr 22(UNI) About 45 advocates were injured, including 14 in critical condition, when police today resorted to lathicharge to disperse agitating lawyers at the District Judge Court premises in support of setting up a permanent High Court bench here.
While condemning the lathicharge, Ganjam Bar Association President Dr Sachi Rath said that these were nothing but police excesses and added that a further course of action would be decided after the Bar Association meeting on April 23.
DSP Santosh Kumar Sarangi said that several police personnel were also injured when the advocates charged at them with bricks and stones, when prevented from entering the court premises in attempts to stop the District Judge Birakishore Mishra.
''As the police chased the agitating advocates, they pelted stones at the policemen and as a result a DSP and few other personnel sustained minor injuries,'' the DSP said. However, Dr Rath clearly denied that the advocates that pelted stones or thrown bricks at them.
The District Court had been closed on December 4 last year over the issue of demand for permanent High Court bench here.
Dr Rath maintained that the police, while chasing the agitating advocates, entered the Bar Association Hall and attacked the advocates with lathis. Some plastic chairs at the Bar Association Hall were also damaged when the advocates tried to protect themselves themselves from police attack.
Dr Rath further said that while the High Court had instructed the police to maintain minimum force to stop entry into the judicial premises, the police "mercilessly beat up the advocates" after they raised slogans.
''We did not even prevent the District Judge from enter9ing the Court. When we reached the court, the District judge had already entered the Court room. The police chased the advocates and attacked them with lathis after they raised simple slogans demanding setting up of permanent High Court Bench at Berhampur,'' said Dr Rath.
About 40 advocates had locked themselves up inside the Bar Association Hall till afternoon to prevent arrest.
Prohibitory orders under CrPC 144 had been imposed in the Court premises throughout the day as agitating advocates began a Rasta Roko demonstration in nearby Courtpeta Square for a few hours.
Twelve platoons of police force had been deployed at the Court premises to prevent any untoward incident, Ganjam SP Debadutta Singh said and added that at least eight advocates, including Dipak Patnaik, Pradip Behera, Sudarsahan Panda, Surya Pradhan, Krushna Sahu and Satyabadi Dora have been arrested.
UNI XC LL RN1733