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Why Has Pratap Jena Not Been Arrested? Asks D Purandeswari

Cuttack: Odisha BJP in-charge D Purandeswari on Thursday came down heavily on the State government for not taking action against Law Minister Pratap Jena who has been named in the FIR filed in connection with the brutal murder of BJP leader Kulamani Baral.

Baral and his associate Dibyasingha Baral were hacked to death in the Salipur area of the district on Saturday.

Accompanied by a host of state BJP leaders, including State president Sameer Mohanty, general secretary Lekhashree Samantsinghar, Bhrugu Buxipatra, Prakash Mishra and others, Purandeswari drove straight to Nrutanga near Salipur–the native place of deceased leader–to meet the bereaved family and offer her condolences.

The top BJP leader raised serious question marks over the sincerity of the investigation and intentions of the State government in shielding the culprits. “Why has Law Minister Pratap Jena not been arrested though he has been named in the FIR? Why has he been spared,” Purandeshwari asked, adding, “I urge Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to open his eyes and ears in order to watch and hear what is happening in the State.”

She pointed out that another BJP leader, Bikash Jena, of the same area had been killed a year ago for exposing irregularities in the PM Awas Yojana. In fact,  Kulamani and Dibyasingha too were murdered over the same reason, she said.

“The family members of Kulamani Babu and Dibyasingha told us that Minister Pratap Jena has a key role behind the crime. But, what prevented the government to act against him,” she wondered.

Responding to the allegations, BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra said, “The prime accused along with the others involved in the crime were arrested within 48 hours of the crime. BJD has always followed zero-tolerance to crime but I think, Purandeswari is not aware of it.”

Similarly, senior party leader and former Director General of Police (DGP) Prakash Mishra slammed the investigating officer/s for not bringing those identified by Dibyasingha Baral before his death into the ambit of the investigation.

“During treatment, Dibyasingha Babu had taken some names behind the murderous attack on him and Kulamani Baral. His last words should be considered as dying declaration and the investigation should be carried out accordingly. But, it is a matter of concern that things are not moving in that direction,” Mishra alleged.

He further alleged it was no secret that the local police officials were working at the behest of ‘someone’ in this area.

Police officers who support the ruling party are getting posted in the coastal district. It has set a bad precedent in policing and emerged as a greater threat to the overall law and order situation, Mishra said.

The BJP has been demanding the ouster of Law Minister Pratap Jena, accusing him of orchestrating the brutal crime. The party leaders had held demonstrations at different places across the State and burnt effigies of the minister.

In a related development, the police on Wednesday arrested one more accused in connection with the double murder case, taking the total number of arrestees to six.

Notably, Kulamani was returning home along with his associate Dibyasingh on his bike when some miscreants attacked them with sharp-edged weapons near Jankoti in Mahanga of Cuttack. Kulamani was declared brought dead at Mahnaga Community Health Centre while Dibyasing succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment at SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack.

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