Hours after murder of Odisha BJP leader, party alleges BJD resorting to retributive politics

Hours after a 67-year-old BJP leader was murdered in Salepur area of Cuttack district in Odisha, the party alleged that the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has started retributive politics like the Trinamool Congress in neighbouring West Bengal. The BJP leader was murdered along with his 71-year-old associate by six miscreants over past enmity.

On Saturday evening, Kulamani Baral, 67, and in-charge of Salepur mandal of BJP and former chairman of Mahanga panchayat Samiti was hacked to death along with his 71-year-old associate Dibyasingh Baral near Jankoti village while coming home on a motorcycle. The duo received grievous injuries on their face and chest. While Kulamani succumbed to the death on the spot, Dibyasingh died while undergoing treatment at the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack on Sunday morning.

Angry over the twin murders, the BJP said that the ruling BJD had started eliminating rivals in a cold-blooded manner like Mamata Banerjee was doing in Bengal.

“Anyone who raises voice against Mamata is being killed in Bengal. Likewise, BJD leaders in Odisha are doing the same to its political rivals. As a senior BJP leader, Baral was raising his voice in corruption in Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in Nrutanga gram panchayat for quite some time. After he alleged that the well-to-do BJD leaders in the panchayat were appropriating the PMAY houses meant for poor people, the local administration had lodged cases against the ineligible beneficiaries. Those BJD leaders harboured a grudge against him for a long time,” alleged Golak Mohapatra, BJP state spokesperson.

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Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan also condemned the alleged murder of Baral and his associate and urged the administration to take exemplary action against the culprits. Expressing deep anguish over the incident, BJP national vice president Baijayant Panda said that stringent action should be taken against those involved in the incident after probe. Odisha Congress president Niranjan Patnaik said, “Kulamani was a strong leader. His death shows that political killings have now begun in the state. I request the government to take stringent action against the accused.”

Son of Kulamani, who lodged an FIR against 12 persons, said his father was raising voice against corruption in several government schemes such as PMAY. “My father had already informed the police about the threat to his life. Yet no action was taken,” said Ramakant Baral, son of Kulamani. The husband of a local sarpach and a former chairman of panchayat samiti have been named in the FIR.

He also alleged that several persons against whom he lodged an FIR today were behind the murder of Bikash Jena, a local BJP leader in the Jankoti village in December 2018. “Had the police taken action against those accused, then my father would not have been killed. These accused are protected by law minister and Mahanga MLA Pratap Jena,” said Ramakant.

However, law minister Pratap Jena said that he would see to it that those who killed the BJP leader get punished. “There is no place for violence in politics,” he said.

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