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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Double murder: Court orders cops to investigate role of Odisha minister

On January 2, BJP leader Kulamani Baral and associate Dibya Singh Baral were critically injured in an attack by armed assailants near Mahanaga. The two died during treatment.

Written by Aishwarya Mohanty | Bhubaneswar |
Updated: August 27, 2021 5:13:44 am
The Judicial Magistrate First Class Court in Salepur, hearing a plea by Kulamani's son Ramakant, said: “The facts disclosed in the petition reveal that the Investigation Officer has not recorded the statement of a material witness who can substantiate the allegations made against Minister Pratap Jena.”

A COURT on Thursday ordered police to initiate a fresh probe into allegations of involvement of state Law Minister Pratap Jena in the double murder of a local BJP leader and his associate in Odisha’s Cuttack district.

On January 2, BJP leader Kulamani Baral and his associate Dibya Singh Baral were critically injured in an attack by a group of armed assailants near Mahanaga. The two died of their injuries while undergoing treatment.

The Judicial Magistrate First Class Court in Salepur, hearing a plea by Kulamani’s son Ramakant, said: “The facts disclosed in the petition reveal that the Investigation Officer has not recorded the statement of a material witness who can substantiate the allegations made against Minister Pratap Jena.”

In his petition, Ramakant, who had filed an FIR against 13 people, including the minister, accused the police of dropping Jena’s name from the chargesheet and not investigating his involvement.

When contacted, Jena said, “I do not wish to comment on the court’s order. Let the law take its own course.”

In his FIR, Ramakanta had alleged that his father was murdered at the behest of Jena as he had started unearthing corruption in implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna in the region. Jena has denied the allegations.

Ten people were arrested in the case. In the chargesheet filed by Cuttack (Rural) police, Jena’s name was dropped as an accused. The Investigating Officer had said that the CDR of all the accused were checked to find out if they were in touch with the minister but no calls were found. The officer further submitted that none of the witnesses corroborated the statements of the complainant regarding Jena.

Inspector Incharge of Mahanga Police Station, Nihar Ranjan Mohanty said, “We are yet to receive a copy of the order passed by the court. In the earlier investigation there was a lack of sufficient evidence to support the allegations against the minister, which is why his name was dropped in the chargesheet.”

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