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18 arrested over rampage in Bhubaneswar’s oldest shopping zone

Police in Odisha’s capital Bhubaneswar said they have arrested 18 people for their alleged role in the violence in the oldest shopping complex of the city.

The arrests, they said, came on Saturday less than 12 hours after a group of masked men ran riot in the busy Market Building shopping zone on Friday evening.

People shopping at the Market Building were left shocked when about 25 masked men armed with iron rods and sticks went on a rampage vandalising handcarts and kiosks of vendors.

“We had no time to react to the attack. The youths were armed and attacked everything that came in their way and fled from the spot,” a street vendor said.

Bhubaneswar Police commissioner Sudhansu Sarangi said a shopkeeper selling watches had an altercation with two people on Thursday night that snowballed into the full-scale attack on Friday evening.

Sarangi said most of the assailants were students and have been identified. The police have also seized five motorcycles.

A police official said on Thursday evening that a boy and a girl had come to Market Building to buy an inexpensive watch from a roadside vendor.

“As the shopkeeper was about to close his shop, he asked them to decide quickly. But the boy and the girl wanted a price much lower than what the shopkeeper was ready to sell. An altercation ensued when the girl tossed the watch carelessly which later led to a brawl,” said the official.

Sarangi said the number of arrests would rise as the police were scrutinising the footage from CCTV cameras installed inside and outside the market complex area.

Interrogation of those arrested is also underway to make further headway into the case.