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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar/Rayagada: That rising intolerance has been creeping into the ruling BJD, has been once again proved with the attack on former MP and Utkal Bharat party chief Kharabela Swain at a public meeting in Kashipur, Rayagada. Swain was abused and manhandled allegedly by some BJD supporters for speaking on growing corruption and mismanagement under the present BJD dispensation.

In a video posted on his Facebook account, Swain was seen being attacked on his face by a man before vulgarly abusing him. The video revealed how the man assaulted Swain saying, “We know BJD, BJP and Congress. What’s this Utkal Bharat? Who has called you here?”

What’s more shocking is Swain stated that he had apprised the Kashipur police about the meeting, but despite his urge of providing protection, no cop was present at the meeting neither did anyone come to his rescue after the attack.

Targeting CM Naveen Patnaik, Swain stated, “The CM has flooded the State with liquor. I have been protesting the Rs 1/kg rice scheme of the State government. However, the attack was not carried out by people who are benefitting from the rice scheme, but by those who have been misled by liquor.”

Speaking to OTV, Swain narrated the whole incident saying, “There were 3-4 others who pushed me and kicked me following which I fell down. They even tried to attack me with the standing mic. Somehow a few people stopped them; otherwise I would have been critically injured. But one of our party members Pratyush Nayak has sustained severe injuries. We have rushed him to hospital and I doubt he has suffered a fracture.”

There was no network coverage in the area. So we could not contact anyone. I had to stop my speech as a few people started harassing me and used vulgar language. It’s a conspiracy as despite informing the police, no one was there to protect us.

Why I am sure the miscreants were from BJD, is because they warned me not to utter a single word against the BJD. They asked me whether our party belongs to BJD or BJP or Congress.”

“Who are you to hold meeting here and without seeking our permission how can you organize a meeting here?” they asked Swain.

“What’s my fault? Being an opposition, I say the government has failed to live up to the expectations of the people despite ruling for over 18 years. If any one has any doubt, s/he can go check my Facebook account where I share my live videos. I raise issues regarding education, rice, corruption, and many other problems including the issues of farmers,” Swain said.

“I am disheartened and saddened with the kind of conspiracy being hatched against me. It’s nothing but the intolerance of BJD when people like us reach out to the masses to highlight the failures of the ruling party,” alleged Swain.

This is not the first instance where the former MP became a victim of the hooliganism.

Earlier this month, Swain was manhandled by some BJD supporters during a public meeting at Dungura village under Khaira block in the district. Prior to that on October 24, he was allegedly attacked and manhandled by BJD activists during a public meeting at Aul in Kendrapara district. Swain had alleged that the supporters of BJD leader Pratap Deb perpetrated the incident.

Condemning the incident, OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik took to twitter and said, “Strongly condemn the attack on former MP Shri Kharabela Swain. Violence has no place in a thriving democracy. Sadly BJD and its Naveen Gunda Vahini don't understand it.”

BJP vice president Sameer Mohanty too condemned the attack and said, “The incident proves double standards of Naveen Patnaik who on one hand preaches non-violence, while on the other such violent attacks are being perpetrated.”

Former MP Baijayant Panda also strongly condemned the attack on Swain.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhab said "The attack on Kharabela Swain is proof of deteriorating law and order situation in Odisha. Being in-charge of the Home department, the CM should refrain from promoting such political intolerance."

"I strongly condemn the dastardly attack on former Parliamentarian Kharabela Swain at Kashipur of Rayagada for criticising Naveen Patnaik-led government and unravelling his misdeeds," said Odisha BJP Spokesperson Pitambar Acharya.

"I strongly condemn the dastardly attack on Utkal Bharat leader Shri Kharabela Swain. BJD has turned into a party of "goondas" under the patronage of Naveen Patnaik in order to cling on to power at any cost," tweeted BJP's KV Singh Deo.

On the other hand, refuting the involvement of BJD, MP N Bhaskar Rao said, “I condemn the attack as everyone has a right to speak. There's no involvement of BJD in this attack.”

Meanwhile, Rayagada SP informed that one of the accused, Sumant Nayak has been arrested. “Investigation is underway and strict action will be taken against all those involved in assaulting the former MP.”

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