Did political links protect Dhalasamantas so far?

Bhubaneswar: Soon after the arrest of dreaded criminal duo – the Dhalasamanta brothers – allegedly involved in several crimes in the twin city, tell tale indications of their political linkage have come tumbling out of the closet.

Photographs showing politicians of all major parties sharing the dais with them have been all over the electronic media barely hours after their arrest. It is, however, not yet clear if their political links have provided them protection from the law so far.

Sources said Sushil Dhalasamanta, who was arrested on Friday along with his brother Sunil, was seen sharing the dais with Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, BJP leader Samir Dey and Congress leaders Lalatendu Bidyadhar (Lulu) Mohapatra and Bhakta Das in a photograph, taken on January 10 in Cuttack. Dhalasamanta was then the president of Cuttack Youth Association, which had organized an event that day and these leaders were invited as guests.

Besides, Sushil was also seen with Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) vice president Suresh Mohapatra, BJD’s Barabati Cuttack MLA Debasis Samantaray and Tirtol legislator Rajashri Mallick in the event.

Civil society organisations have raised questions on how a criminal with 13 cases, including murder, theft and dacoity against him, could share the dais with political leaders.

“Were the political leaders unaware about the criminal antecedents of the Dhalasamanta brothers,” asked a member of one such organisation.

BJP leader Sameer Dey said “not only I, but leaders of other political parties, retired judges, renowned doctors were present there”,

Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra said -“Two MLAs of the ruling party were also present there”. Is it wrong to encourage a man who collected large units of blood?, he asked.