Lawyers' agitation turns violent in Berhampur

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Berhampur, Apr 22 (UNI) The lawyers' agitation, demanding permanent bench of Orissa High court here, turned violent in which 45 advocates and some policemen were injured, while 32 lawyers were arrested from the court premises today.

Out of the 45 advocates injured, the condition of 14 was stated to be critical, Ganjam Bar Association president Sachi Rath said while condemning the police action.

He said a further course of action would be decided after the Bar Association meeting on April 23.

DSP Santosh Kumar Sarangi said several policemen were also injured when the advocates threw bricks and stones at them, However, Dr Rath denied that the advocates had pelted stones or thrown bricks at police.

The District Court had remained closed since December 4 last year over the demand for a permanent High Court bench by the agitating lawyers.

Dr Rath maintained that police while chasing the agitating advocates, entered the Bar Association Hall and attacked them with lathis.

He alleged while the High Court had ordered police to maintain minimum force to stop the entry into the judicial premises, the latter ''mercilessly'' beat up the advocates after they raised slogans.

Some plastic chairs at the Bar Association Hall were also damaged when the advocates tried to protect themselves from the police attack.

''We did not even prevent the District Judge from entering the court,'' Mr Rath said adding when the lawyers reached the court, the District Judge had already entered the court room.

But police chased the advocates and attacked them with lathis after they raised simple slogans, demanding the setting up of permanent High Court bench at Berhampur, he said.

Several advocates had locked themselves up inside the Bar Association hall to prevent arrest after the incident but police broke the lock of the gate and arrested 32 of them.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC had been imposed in the court premises throughout the day as agitating advocates began a 'Rasta Roko' demonstration in the 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.

UNI XC-DP SJC JT GC2220

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