BJD says BJP wants to politicize every criminal case in the state.
New Delhi: The murder of BJP leader Kulamani Baral has triggered a political uproar in Odisha. Meanwhile, the prime accused Panchanan Sethi who was arrested on Tuesday told media persons outside the court that he committed the crime over personal rivalry. According to reports, he said that Kulamani’s two sons Kunia and Bengua had barged into his house and assaulted him after stripping off his clothes. “I killed Kulamani in revenge,” he told media.
Congress and BJP were protesting and demanding the resignation of Law Minister and Mahanga MLA Pratap Jena for his alleged role in the murder. On Wednesday, the Cuttack Rural Police arrested one more accused in the murder of BJP leader Kulamani Baral and his associate Dibyasingh Baral. He has been identified as Kailash Khatua of Jankothi. With this, the total number of arrests in the double murder case has increased to five.
Pratap Keshri Deb, spokesperson, BJD, told The Sunday Guardian: “BJP is searching for a political issue to beat the government. They are latching on to every small thing that happens in the state. Though the police are doing a good job, they want to politicize everything. Because they have got no issues left in Odisha to point out the government. This is basically politicizing a murder case. A similar thing they did with the Pari case; ultimately after DNA test it was found that the case was something else. In that case, they said the minister was involved and they are saying again a minister is involved. This means every crime that happens in a constituency, the minister or MLA of the constituency is involved. This is obnoxious. Truth is there for everyone to see. FIR was filed, action was taken and all the accused in the FIR are arrested now. Within 48 hours, the police solved the case.”
On Tuesday, the Cuttack Rural Police arrested four, including prime accused Panchanan Sethi. The four men accused of the crime have been identified as Arabinda Khatua (27), Khitish Acharya (45), Lalit Mohan Baral (75) and prime accused Panchanan Sethi (28). Cuttack Rural Police also took the prime accused to the crime spot in a bid to recreate the sequence of events leading up to the murder.
Kulamani’s son Ramakant had alleged that his father was killed since he was instrumental in exposing a string of scams in the area. The incident is a consequence of the exposure of massive corruption in the Prime Minister Awas Yojana (PMAY) in the region, stated Ramakant in his FIR.
“The attack was carried out at the behest of Law Minister Pratap Jena. The accused persons had also brutally murdered another BJP worker Bikash Chandra Jena in the village in 2018. The police did not take any exemplary action against them then and now they killed my father. The Minister is shielding the accused,” the FIR alleged.
As a precautionary measure, the police had deployed forces at the Sishu Bhawan square and made elaborate security arrangements outside the residence of Jena.
Alleging the involvement of Jena in the double murder, while District BJP unit President Prakash Behera has sought the intervention of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik into the incident, the Law Minister refuted the allegation.
On 2 January, Kulamani Baral and his relative Dibyasingh Baral were murdered by unknown assailants. The tragic incident took place when Kulamani was returning home along with his associate Dibyasingh on a bike. Some miscreants attacked them with sharp weapons leaving them critically injured.
Kulamani was declared dead at Mahanga Community Health Centre (CMC), while Dibyasingh succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment at SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack the next day.
The Sunday Guardian tried to reach out to BJP spokesperson Prithviraj Harichandan for comments, but didn’t receive them till the time this story went to press.