Oppn parties demand Odisha Law Minister's resignation over Mahanga double murder case

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Bhubaneswar, Mar 20 (PTI) The opposition BJP and Congress MLAs on Saturday demanded in the Odisha Assembly the resignation of Law Minister Pratap Jena, as he is one of the accused in a double murder case at Mahanga in Cuttack district.

The issue was raised by Leader of Opposition P K Naik of BJP during the Zero Hour. He demanded resignation and arrest of Jena whose name figured among the accused persons in the Mahanga double murder case.

'There seems to be two laws in Odisha, one for the ruling party leaders and ministers and another for opposition members and general people. Despite being named as an accused, the police have not taken any action against Jena. Therefore, we demand his resignation,' Naik said.

Referring to the arrest of BJP's Sambalpur lawmaker J N Mishra in a murder case in Bargarh district, Naik said: 'The BJP MLA was arrested because his name was in the FIR. But in Mahanga case, the law takes a different course for the BJD minister.' Congress Legislature Party Leader Narasingha Mishra and MLA Santosh Singh Saluja also raised the issue and demanded the resignation of Pratap Jena.

'Minister Jena's name figured in the 13th place of the list of accused persons in the Mahanga double murder case.

But, the police are silent. The police cannot undertake a neutral investigation till Jena remains the minister,' Saluja said.

BJD MLA Byomakesh Ray, however, said that the Leader of Opposition took the name of BJP leader Sarada Pradhan, who took lead in the demonstration against Jena outside the Assembly. Pradhan was accused in several cases and even served jail for 22 days. He leading the BJP rally outside assembly is unfortunate, Ray said.

'In 1997, Pradhan's name was in the BPL list but within some years, he owns property worth thousands of crores,' Ray alleged.

BJP's Deputy Leader in Assembly, B C Sethi said Sarada Pradhan is being targeted because he speaks against the Law Minister and his alleged involvement in the Mahanga double murder case.

'Crores of rupees are looted under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and if anybody dares to seek information in this regard, people like Kulamani Baral, Divya Singha Baral are murdered. Prafulla Biswal, who was from the BJD itself, was also murdered in apprehension that he would reveal about the murder,' Sethi alleged.

Kulamani Baral and Divyasingha Baral were killed at Mahanga on January 2 for raising voice against corruption and irregularities in the PMAY.

Meanwhile, hundreds of BJP supporters led by the party's state unit president Samir Mohanty took out a rally from BJP state headquarters and later tried to gherao the Assembly. The protestors demanded an impartial probe into the Mahanga double murder case and arrest of Pratap Jena and all other accused involved in the case.

Earlier, the BJP activists staged demonstrations before all the block offices, police stations and SP offices across Cuttack district demanding arrest of all the accused persons including the minister in the double murder case.

The Youth wing of Congress had also staged a demonstration before the assembly on Friday demanding the arrest of the minister.

So far police have arrested 10 of the 13 accused persons in the Mahanga double murder case while one accused died in an accident. PTI AAM RG RG