Mrunal Manmay Dash

Following the filing of a protest petition by Ramakanta Baral, son of the deceased BJP leader Kulamani Baral who was murdered along with his associate in Mahanga last year, the First Class Judicial Magistrate (JMFC) court at Salipur on Thursday directed the Inspector-In-Charge (IIC) of Mahanga Police Station to conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations made against BJD MLA and Odisha Cabinet Minister Pratap Jena in connection with the sensational murder case.

In the order, the court stated that the complainant (Ramakanta Baral) had lodged an FIR against 13 persons on January 3, 2021, at the Mahanga PS under Arms Act. Thereafter, the charge sheet was filed against 12 accused persons that did not include the name of Pratap Jena against whom the protest petition has been filed by Baral. 

Baral alleged that the investigation carried out by the investigating officer (IO) was perfunctory as he completely overlooked the allegations against Pratap Jena even when the politician's name was mentioned in the FIR and statement recorded under Section 161 of CrPC.

In the protest petition, Baral categorically stated that the IO has not examined material witnesses and wrongly recorded the statement of witnesses in order to shield Jena. Hence, his name does not find a place in the charge sheet as incriminating materials against him have not been collected by the IO. 

Baral further prayed that it was essential to examine the names of the witnesses which are furnished in the protest petition and to investigate impartially the allegations against Pratap Jena without any political pressure as he happens to be a sitting MLA and Minister in the State Cabinet. 

Speaking to the media, Baral’s counsel, Prabin Kanungo said, “There are statements of the witnesses, statements under CrPC 161 which make it clear that many people have deposed against Minister Pratap Jena. The then IIC of Mahanga Police Station might have deleted Jena’s name from the Chargesheet.”

“The court has now ordered to reinvestigate the case,” Kanungo added.

BJP leader Pitambar Acharya said, “Pratap Jena should resign from his position as soon as possible. Otherwise, the police officer will never be able to investigate the case impartially.”