Panchayat pre-poll violence toll mounts to two in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: The toll in the pre-panchayat poll violence in Odisha has mounted to two with death of a Congress activist in Malkangiri district, the police said today.

The Congress activist identified as Sapan Babli (60), a resident of MV-8 in Tamasa gram panchayat jurisdiction under Malkangiri block, succumbed to injury at the district headquarters hospital at Malkangiri.

According to the complaint lodged by family members of the deceased at Malkangiri police station, Sapan was whisked away by a group of BJP supporters while he was campaigning for Congress on Monday evening. The family members named three BJD activists in the FIR.

Babali was dropped at his house in a critical condition at around midnight on the night. His family members rushed Babali to the district headquarters hospital at Malkangiri on Tuesday where he died last night. Malkangiri police station IIC Ranjan Kumar Das said that the police has registered a case and will take action after getting the postmortem report.

Babali’s death came three days after the killing of BJP activist Salman Rout at Tarava village in Dhenkanal district during pre-poll violence for which one person has been arrested and two others detained. Meanwhile, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan demanded a CBI probe into Rout’s killing even as the State Election Commission recommended a crime branch probe into the murder.

Pradhan who met the bereaved family of Rout today said an impartial probe cannot be done by the crime branch of Odisha police.

If the state government is really interested in a fair inquiry, it should hand over the probe to CBI immediately. Giving protection to the accused is the prime work of state crime branch. Such an agency can t conduct a transparent investigation , Pradhan told newsmen after meeting relatives of the deceased.

The panchayat polls in Odisha will be held in five phases on February 13, 15, 17, 19 and 21 respectively.