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Mrunal Manmay Dash

As the festive season knocked on the doors with the culmination of Ganesh puja in the state, a spike in extortions in the name of Puja celebration seems to have become a headache for the law enforcement agencies.

From Bhubaneswar to Cuttack, even in the Western Odisha district of Nuapada, extortionists have become active after a lull in business for the last two years owing to Covid-19 restrictions.

As per reports, a woman in Thutibar village under Nuapada’s Komna police limits was shot dead by a miscreant demanding Rs 10,000 as extortion on behalf of District Mahotsav Committee.

As per the complaint by her husband Sharat Chandra Sahu, the miscreant demanded him the money on Wednesday night. After facing resistance from Sahu, the miscreant pointed a gun at him.

However, sensing danger, Sahu’s wife Kumudini Shabar pushed him away and came in front of the firing line. She took the bullet and died on the spot.

Prashant Patnaik, Nuapada SDPO said, “They were sleeping last night when a miscreant named Nilambar Suna from the same village knocked on the door and demanded money. When the couple opened the door, he threatened them with a gun and ultimately killed Sharat’s wife. A case has been registered and the probe is on.”

In a similar incident, a fruit vendor at Kalinganagar K-7 under Bharatpur police limits in Bhubaneswar was brutally attacked by miscreants on Tuesday after he reportedly denied extortion. The police have arrested four in this connection.

The Millenium city of Cuttack is no exception. Extortion related violence is no surprise for the residents of the city famous for its Durga Puja. As the puja committees gear up to hold puja in a grand manner this year, the police have also braced up to book those seen extorting money in the name of puja.

Moreover, the Commissionerate Police has issued helpline numbers; 6370701550 and 8763068464 for Cuttack and 7077198111 for Bhubaneswar to report any such incidents of extortion during puja.

Speaking to reporters, Cuttack DCP, Pinak Mishra said, “We are getting reports of some people demanding money forcibly from others. This is also a form of extortion. We have released a phone number for people to report such incidents to us.”

The Commissionerate Police has so far arrested 33 anti-socials since January 2022 in an ongoing operation, ‘DADABATI KU NAA’ (No To Extortion) for demanding illegal subscription (extortion). Senior officials said that 13 anti-socials have been arrested so far in the month of September in connection with eight cases.

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