Unable to persuade former Odisha Law minister and dowry torture accused Raghunath Mohanty to surrender, ruling BJD today asked him to respect law of the land or face consequences.
"Through media, I will like to request Raghunath Mohanty to cooperate with the law before the matter gets further complicated," government Deputy Whip Sanjay Dasburma told reporters.
Dasburma's appeal to Mohanty, who is on run, came three days after BJD chief whip Pravat Tripathy appealed to the ex-minister to surrender. Tripathy had also said Mohanty should give himself up immediately in the interest of BJD.
Raghunath Mohanty, who resigned as a minister on March 15, a day after his daughter-in-law Barsa Swony Choudhury lodg an FIR against him and his family members, remained incommunicado. Mohanty's petitions seeking legal protection against arrest was also turned down by the High Court.
Barsa had alleged that she was tortured physically and mentally at the house of Mohanty for dowry. "My father-in-law (Mohanty) was instrumental in the torture on me," she has said.
Besides being a long time MLA and a minister, Mohanty was also a vice-president of BJD. The ruling party which initially termed the dowry torture case against Mohanty as a "family affair", later requested him to surrender in the face of growing demand by opposition parties.
Congress and BJP have targeted Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and held him responsible for "escape" of Mohanty. "Why the Chief Minister did not ask police to arrest Mohanty after he resigned from ministry on March 15," asked Congress Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan.
With the Chief Minister accused of shielding Mohanty, BJD deputy whip Dasburma said, "The Chief Minister during his 13-year tenure has not interfered in the process of law. He has not shielded anyone. His policy of law taking its course is applicable to all including Mohanty."
The former law minister's act of keeping in hibernation has caused embarrassment to the ruling party.
Though Mohanty's son Raja Shree was arrested and jailed in the dowry torture case, four other accused including Mohanty, his wife Pritilata, daughter Rupasree and son-in-law Suvendu Madhual are yet to be located by police. Mohanty's official residence here was locked since March 15 and his house at Amrada Road in Balasore was guarded by a cook.
"We do not have any confirmed information about Mohanty's whereabouts," a senior police officer said adding police suspected that the ex-law minister might have fled from the state.