A local BJP leader was shot dead by unidentified men outside the party’s office in Khurda late on Sunday night, a day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the eastern state for an election rally.
This is the second instance of poll violence in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha election 2019 in less than three weeks. An Independent candidate, about to join the ruling BJD, was hacked to death in Odisha’s Keonjhar district by unknown men on March 26.
Police said the murder of the BJP’s Khurda mandal president Manguli Jena was linked to him edging out a fellow villager and a BJD leader over the leasing of a village pond recently. The Biju Janata Dal leader was sore with losing his income from the pond after Jena took over, they said.
Jena was talking to Kalu Khandayatray, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate for Khurda assembly seat, at 11.45pm on Sunday when two men in a scooter pulled up at the party office in Nabeenabag.
“One of the miscreants pulled out his gun and fired three rounds, two of which hit Jena. He died on the spot,” inspector general (central range) Soumendra Priyadarshi said.
They were wearing helmets and could not be identified immediately.
Khandayatray said the attack was over in less than 15 seconds.
“He (Jena) and I were discussing about campaigning when two people riding a scoot came and shot two rounds of bullets at him and also opened fire another round of bullet at me. I still can’t believe that Jena is no more with us,” said Khandayatray.
The BJP immediately called a shutdown of Khurda after the incident and party leader Sudipta Ray sat before the local police station demanding the arrest of the accused. Police said a special team has been formed to nab the accused.
The murder has come a day before Prime Minister Modi’s visit to state capital Bhubaneswar for a public meeting and a roadshow.
Condemning the incident, Union petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan said there is no place for violence in a democracy as it is battle of ballots not bullets.
“I urge party leaders and workers to have faith in democracy and keep peace at this time,” Pradhan tweeted.
In a separate incident, violence erupted in Bolangir district late Saturday night as a BJD worker sustained critical injuries after being allegedly attacked by Congress activists.
Some Congress workers allegedly barged into the BJD’s office at Chandanbhati village under Sadar Police Station in the district and attacked Prafulla Meher. Meher, who reportedly sustained grievous injuries in the attack, has been admitted to the Bolangir District Headquarters Hospital.
BJP MLA candidate from Bolangir assembly constituency Ananta Das along with his supporters surrounded the office of the district superintendent of police demanding the immediate arrest of those involved in the attack.
Odisha is simultaneously polling for the Lok Sabha and assembly elections in four phases. The votes will be counted on May 23.
Apr 15, 2019 10:38 IST