Former minister Raghunath Mohanty was removed as the vice-president of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Saturday by Chief Minister and party supremo Naveen Patnaik hours after he was arrested in a dowry torture case.
“BJD president Naveen Patnaik has removed Basta MLA Raghunath Mohanty from the post of BJD vice-president,” a release issued by the party said.
The former minister and his wife Pritilata were arrested at Betaitola in Howrah district of West Bengal early on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister, who is in Delhi, said the law would take its own course in the case against Raghunath, who had gone into hiding since March 15 after resigning from the Cabinet.
Soon after his arrest, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kalpataru Das had said that Raghunath should now resign from the party post. Government chief whip Prabhat Tripathy and government deputy chief whip Sanjay Dasburma had requested the former minister to surrender in the interest of the party.
However, police swung into action after Raghunath ignored the advice of the BJD leaders.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik demanded that the trial of the case against the former minister and his family members should be done in a fast track court. “Law never takes its own course under Naveen Patnaik,” Niranjan said and added, “if he is serious about checking the growing atrocities against women in the State, the case should be handed over to a fast track court.”
Raghunath and his wife were produced in the court of Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM) in Balasore which reserved its judgment on their bail pleas till April 2.
Earlier, Additional Director-General of Police and Chief of HRPC Bijay Kumar Sharma said the former minister and his wife were arrested from an apartment at Betaitola in Howrah district of West Bengal at about 3.30 am. “They were frequently changing their cell phone numbers and were finally traced after tapping over 50 phone numbers. They were residing in two flats taken on rent in the name of different persons since March 20,” Sharma said.
A five-member team brought Raghunath and his wife to Marine police station at Chandipur and interrogated them for over a couple of hours. They were then taken to a defence guest house and later to defence hospital for medical examination before being produced in the SDJM court amidst tight security.