Four arrested in BJP leader and his associate murder case; police silent on Odisha minister

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Bhubaneswar, Jan 5 (PTI) Facing protests from opposition BJP and the Congress, the Cuttack police on Tuesday remained silent on alleged involvement of Odisha's Law minister Pratap Jena in the murder case of a saffron party leader and his associate,while arresting four in connection with the brutal killing.

The BJP and the Congress intensified their agitation during the day demanding resignation of the minister and arrest of all the accused persons.

While the BJP activists staged agitation in front of the police stations across the state,supporters of Youth and Student wings of the Congress attempted to ghero the law ministers residence here.

The ruling BJD, however, said that the Odisha BJP is indulging in cheap politics and politicising the incidents of crime knowing fully well that BJD government in Odisha has always taken strict action against crime and criminals.

Two persons- BJP leader Kulamani Baral (74) and his associate Dibyasingha Baral (82), were hacked to death near Jankoti village in Mahanga block of Cuttack district on Saturday night.

Minister 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.

Four days prior to the incident, Ramakanta said his father had told him that Jena, who is also the local MLA, had threatened to kill the two.

While briefing the media Tuesday, Cuttack Superintendent of police (rural), B Jugal Kishore said four persons including the prime accused in the double murder case have been arrested following a complaint lodged in Mahanga police station.

He said a scientific team paid a visit to the spot to collect forensic evidence.

Later, five special teams were formed to nab the accused.

The SP said that the police have also seized the sword and lathi used in the killing besides recovering two bikes and four mobile phones from the arrested persons.

'The police have arrested four accused persons within 48 hours of the twin murder', the SP said, while refusing to divulge the motive of the crime as well as the role of the law minister in the crime.

'Investigation is underway,' the SP said in response to a flurry of questions from reporters.

Earlier in the day, police had taken the prime accused to Jankoti village to recreate the crime scene. After reaching the spot, the accused showed the sword he had hidden after committing the crime.

Meanwhile, the BJP raised questions on the police investigation and wanted to know what prevented the police from arresting all the accused persons named in the FIR.

Congress also made similar pleas and demanded immediate arrest of all the accused persons and urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to stop the ongoing political violence in the state.

'It is high time, the government must act tough to stop political crime in the state,' said OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik.

Rejecting the opposition allegations, BJD spokesperson Sulochana Deo said,'In the past also Odisha BJP has been indulging in false narratives like in the case of Kunduli and in the case of Tikiri, where an accused person of the crime was given party ticket to contest elections'.

'The people of Odisha have seen through their falsehood and cheap politics over the years and have given them befitting reply in election after election,' the BJD spokesperson said.

In regard to the Mahanga double murder case, Deo said that the BJD government is strongly committed to bring the culprits to justice. Strict action will be taken against the perpetrators of this heinous crime.

'The political murder in the BJP ruled states of UP, Bihar, MP and Karnataka is far higher than Odisha as per the NCRB data,' she said. PTI AAM SNS SNS