BJP, Congress step up agitation demanding ouster of Odisha Minister

They say that political murders are becoming common in the State

Both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress on Tuesday stepped up their agitation across the State demanding the ouster of Odisha Law Minister Pratap Jena, who was named in the police complaint pertaining to the murder of two BJP leaders in Cuttack district.

Notwithstanding the arrest of four accused in the murder case, the two principal Opposition parties intensified their stir alleging that the ruling Biju Janata Dal was resorting to violence to silence political opponents.

“Our special teams conducted raids in different localities. Within 48 hours, we have been able to apprehend four persons including the main accused, Panchanan Sethi,” said B. Jugal Kishore, Cuttack Superintendent of Police (rural).

The police took the four accused to the place of murder to recreate the scene. On January 2, former Mahanga block chairperson and BJP leader Kulamani Baral and his associate Dibyasingh Baral were hacked to death when they were returning to their village Nrutanga.

The miscreants had attacked at Jankoti and the two politicians had later succumbed to injuries. Ramakant Baral, son of Kulamani Baral, had filed a police complaint naming 13 persons, including Mr. Jena.

The BJP alleged that the BJD was making the State like neighbouring West Bengal, where political murders were becoming regular. State BJP president Sameer Mohanty and Leader of Opposition Pradipta Naik had participated in the funeral procession on Sunday. The party had announced a Cuttack bandh on Monday.

Members of BJP’s youth wing staged demonstrations in front of all police stations in the State and burnt effigies of the State Law Minister. The party announced that it would protest in front of offices of Superintendents of Police on Wednesday. It would sustain its campaign by holding a protest in front of the office of the Director General of Police at Cuttack on Thursday, the BJP said.

Some members of the student wing of the Congress tried to break into the official residence of Mr. Jena at Bhubaneswar. They had a scuffle with police personnel.

“Odisha BJP is indulging in cheap politics and politicising incidents of crime knowing fully well that the BJD government has always taken the strictest action against criminals,” said BJD spokesperson Sulata Deo.

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