Saswat Singhdeo

Bolangir: Despite serious charges levelled against Patnagarh MLA Saroj Meher, who forced a PWD official to do sit ups in public, police are yet to take any action against him and others involved in the case.

Following police inaction, family members of the Junior Engineer (JE), Jayakanta Sabar, have left Patnagarh and are currently staying in their village. Sabar has reportedly not joined duty after he was insulted on June 5.

“Just because we are tribal people, such behaviour was meted out to us. We were treated very badly with harsh comments on our background,” said Prabina, wife of Jayakanta.

Meanwhile, after receiving a report from the sub-collector in connection with the case, the district collector of Bolangir, Arindam Dakua, clarified that due to sub-standard road construction work, the Patnagarh MLA punished Jayakanta in public and directed the engineer-in-charge to slap the JE.

According to the report, the MLA forced the Junior Engineer to do sit ups hundred times within five minutes and threatened that if he does not do so, public will thrash him.

The district collector informed that the report has been sent to the State government.

Apart from IPC section 3 of SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, charges under 8 more sections have been registered against Meher.

On June 6, a video showing Patnagarh MLA forcing the JE to do sit-ups near Belpada area had gone viral on social media drawing sharp reactions from various quarters.

While the MLA tendered an apology, a day after the incident, Sabar’s wife had lodged a police complaint alleging that her husband was kidnapped by the MLA.

After state-wide condemnation of the incident and protests by Bolangir District Tribal Welfare Association and Odisha Diploma Engineers’ Association, a case was registered against the BJD legislator.

“If an FIR is filed against a person and the offence is unbailable, then even if the accused is an MLA, police can arrest the person,” said senior lawyer Pramod Kumar Mishra.

Speaking on the issue, coordinator of Patnagarh OBC Manch, Prakash Kumar Bhoi said, “We came to know about the incident through newspapers. If it is true, then OBC Manch will not support the MLA’s conduct.”

“The MLA should be arrested soon and given harsh punishment,” said vice-president of District Tribal Welfare Union, Shyamsundar Bhoi.


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