BJP worker killed, eight injured in pre-poll violence in Ganjam

A large police contingent was rushed to the village to control the situation after the incident while nine persons were arrested in the connection.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only.FILE Photo| PTI

BERHAMPUR/BHUBANESWAR: As Odisha readies for its second phase elections, pre-poll violence raised its ugly head in Ganjam district where a BJP worker was killed and eight others injured in a clash with BJD supporters at Srikrushnasaranpur village under Khallikote police limits.

According to reports, the clash took place on Wednesday night over putting up banners by the BJP workers led by local party leader Dilip Pahan in the village which was opposed by the BJD supporters. Pahan is reported to have told the BJD workers that they should not be opposing the BJP flags as BJD banners and posters had already been pasted in the village.

Later in the night, around 30 people came in motorcycles and attacked the BJP workers with sharp weapons. The injured were taken to Khallikote CHC and later shifted to MKCG MCH,where doctors declared Dilip dead.

The incident sparked tension in the area with BJP workers allegedly vandalising several vehicles parked near the residence of BJD candidate and sitting MLA from the Khallikote Assembly seat Surjyamani Baidya. They demanded the arrest of the MLA and her husband Daitary Behera alleging their involvement in the attack. Election for the Khallikote seat would be held on May 20.

A large police contingent was rushed to the village to control the situation after the incident while nine persons were arrested in the connection.

However, while the arrested persons were being forwarded to court, local villagers, mostly BJP activists, gheraoed the police station and blocked the road disrupting communication between Khallikote and Bhubaneswar. The mob threw stones at the police injuring IIC Naresh Kumar Sahu and SDPO Gourahari Sahu. As the mob did not respond to appeals and turned violent, police resorted to lathicharge to disperse them.

With no let up in the situation, the Ganjam district administration on Thursday clamped prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC in 100 mtr area around Khallikote police station.

The violence drew widespread condemnation across all sections. Expressing concern over the incident, chief electoral officer (CEO), Odisha, NB Dhal asked the district collector and superintendent of police to take immediate action in this regard. The CEO directed the administration and police to adopt zero tolerance to violence.

Strongly condemning the incident, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said he was “deeply disturbed and saddened at the very unfortunate and tragic incident of violence in Khallikote area. Such incidents of violence have no place in our democracy and civil society and expressed deepest condolence to the family who has lost their loved one. I am sure police will take strong and exemplary action against the perpetrators of this heinous crime,” he added.

Union Minister and BJP candidate from Sambalpur Dharmendra Pradhan alleged that the ruling party was resorting to violence for fear of losing the elections. “I strongly condemn the attack on BJP workers by BJD. I am saddened by the death of our party activist. Their sacrifices will not go in vain. People of Odisha will give a befitting reply through the ballot. Election officials and police administration should immediately investigate the incident and take action against the culprits,” he posted on X.

National BJP president JP Nadda, who undertook a roadshow in Bhubaneswar, also expressed concern over the clash and said such incidents should not happen.

CEO orders deployment of 20 CAPF companies in the district

The chief electoral officer (CEO) Nikunja Bihari Dhal on Thursday approved deployment of 20 companies of CAPF in the district for the second phase elections on May 20. Dhal has instructed the Ganjam collector, who is also the district election officer, to not to use the CAPF companies as reserve or strike force. The CAPF will be deployed for peaceful conduct of polls in different booths across the district.

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