BJP MLA Jagadev detained for EVM damage, BJD MLA Behera accused of assault during Odisha polls

ADG (law and order) Sanjay Kumar who rushed to the spot to supervise the law and order situation said police had to chase Jagadev and take him into custody.
Khurda MLA Prasanta Kumar Jagadev
Khurda MLA Prasanta Kumar Jagadev (File photo)

BHUBANESWAR: Bharatiya Janata Party’s Khurda MLA Prasanta Kumar Jagadev was on Saturday detained for allegedly damaging electronic voting machine (EVM) and manhandling polling personnel at a booth within Bolagarh police limits.

Amidst the high stakes third phase polling, sporadic incidents of violence were reported from some parts of the state, including Khurda and Angul districts.

Khurda police said Jagadev was detained as there was clear evidence of him creating ruckus inside polling booth 114 in Kaunripatana upper primary school under Bolagarh Assembly seat which was not the constituency he was contesting from. ADG (law and order) Sanjay Kumar who rushed to the spot to supervise the law and order situation said police had to chase Jagadev and take him into custody. “In the webcasting system at the polling booth, Jagadev can be seen manhandling a woman polling staff and the presiding officer,” Kumar told this newspaper.

In Angul district, BJD’s Chhendipada MLA Susanta Kumar Behera was accused of attacking a BJP worker at Similisahi under Kosala block during polling, triggering tension in the area. According to reports, Behera entered the booth which was protested by the BJP workers. He then allegedly threatened and attacked BJP worker Sidhartha Shankar Sahoo. Polling continued despite the disturbances.

Behera denied having attacked anyone near the booth saying he had gone to see how polling was taking place. During his return, BJD workers made provoking comments. Behera said though he was tempted, he dissuaded them not to do that.

Sahoo lodged an FIR online at Chhendipada police station against MLA Behera. A counter FIR was also lodged from the MLA’s side. Chhendipada IIC Bibhudatta Chhotray said the incident will be probed.

Chief electoral officer (CEO), Nikunja Bihari Dhal said the presiding and sector officers have been asked to submit a detailed report in connection with the Bolagarh incident.“The state police are following up the matter and law will take its own course,” said Dhal. Due to the altercation, there was an error in the control unit for which new sets of EVM had to be deployed but then the voting continued peacefully.

The CEO said allegation against Jagadev is that he kicked the table on which the EVM was kept for which the ballot unit fell down. “It is clearly not visible in the video if he actually kicked it but he was in the booth for quite some time and he had an altercation there,” he told this newspaper.

Dhal also informed that he spoke to Angul collector and a case will be registered in connection with the violence between two groups at a polling booth in Chhendipada.

Meanwhile, the BJP demanded immediate arrest of Behera for assaulting saffron party workers. A delegation led by state BJP vice-president Golak Mohapatra submitted a memorandum to the CEO and registered a complaint against Behera.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also condemned. “It is unfortunate that an MLA behaved like an anti-social element. This incident proves what kind of a government they want. I expect that the local administration and the Election Commission will take appropriate action against Behera after investigating the incident.”

A BJD delegation led by Rajya Sabha member Sasmit Patra met the CEO and demanded stringent action against Jagadev for forcibly entering the booth, damaging the EVM and assaulting the presiding officer.

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