Bhubaneswar, Jan 4 (PTI) The opposition BJP on Monday took out a rally here, demanding immediate arrest and dismissal of Odisha law minister Pratap Jena -- one of the accused in the twin murders of BJP leader Kulamani Baral and his associate Dibyasingha Baral.
Jena and 12 others have been booked under various sections of the IPC, including 302 (murder), based on a complaint lodged by the deceased BJP leader's son Ramakanta.
The law minister, however, alleged that the saffron party was 'politicising the case and dragging his name into the matter for no reason'.
Saffron party activists burned effigies of the law minister here, and vowed to intensify their agitation if no action was taken against the minister anytime soon.
Kulamani Baral, the BJP's Salipur district in-charge and Mahanga block ex-chairman, and Dibyasingh Baral were hacked to death on Saturday allegedly by Jena's supporters.
Four days prior to the incident, Ramakanta had alleged his father told him that Jena, who is also the local MLA, threatened to kill the two of them.
'The minister is completely responsible for the murder of my father. The miscreants killed my father on the local MLA's direction as he had raised his voice against Jena's corrupt methods,' he said.
Taking to Twitter, BJP national spokesman Sambit Patra drew parallels between the political situation in Odisha and neighbouring Bengal.
'Senior BJP leader Kulamani Barala of Mahanga was brutally hacked to death just because he spoke against the corruption of Minister Pratap Jena in Odisha Govt. The Minister's name finds a mention in the FIR as well. Is Odisha going the Bengal way?' Patra tweeted.
Echoing him, Bhubaneswar MP and BJP leader Aparajita Sarangi said, 'The state has witnessed at least 17 political murders involving BJP leaders since the previous panchayat elections in 2012. Odisha is going on the Bengal way so far political violence is concerned.' BJP's state general secretary Prithiviraj Harichandan said that the party would hold protest rallies across the state if Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is also in-charge of the Home Department, does not take measures to get the culprits arrested.
'We will not allow any minister including the chief minister to attend any function across the state until the culprits are arrested,' Harichandan asserted.
Congress MLA Suresh Routray sought to know how the law minister, despite being named an accused in the double murder case, was allowed to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Orissa High Court Chief Justice earlier in the day.
Jena, in his defence, claimed that the opposition has the habit of pointing fingers at ruling party leaders for every crime recorded in the state.
'The investigation will reveal the truth. It will be my personal endeavour to ensure that the culprits are arrested and punished,' he added. PTI AAM RMS RMS