No one is a criminal till conviction: Dharmendra

Bhubaneswar: After a photograph of Union Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan has pught to explain away his presence on the dais with dreaded criminal Sushil Dhalasamanta, who was arrested on Friday along with his brother Sunil, saying it was a ‘social gathering’ and it was not possible to know the antecedents of all those present on such occasions.

Photographs appearing in the media in the wake of his arrest yesterday showed Pradhan sharing the dais with Sushil Dhalasamanta at a blood donation camp in Cuttack on January 10.

“If a politician is involved with a criminal and committed a crime in connivance with him, then it is an offence. As far as I know, I have not done any such thing. Moreover, till the time the court has convicted a person, he cannot be called a criminal,” Pradhan said.

Notably, Sushil has also been seen with several politicians of the ruling party as well as others. Photographs have surfaced showing Sushil 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.