Nuapada/Bhubaneswar: Four persons were injured critically in a group clash at Kurumpuri panchayat in Nuapada district late on Friday night over the upcoming Zilla Parishad elections for Zone-2. The injured were Ramnaresh Ahir and his sons Rohit and Sushil and local BJP leader Shankar Gupta. Ramnaresh is contesting the Zilla Parishad poll as BJD candidate.
Police intervened and brought the situation under control, while the injured were rushed to the district headquarters hospital. Sushil and Shankar were later shifted from there to a hospital in Raipur, as their condition deteriorated.
Police registered two cases over complaints from Ramanaresh and Shankar’s wife Manju Gupta, who is contesting as a sarpanch candidate. While Ramanaresh is in the fray for a Zilla Parishad post, his daughter-in-law Ileshwari Ahir is seeking the Sarpanch post. The incident occurred when Ramnaresh was returning home with his two sons after campaigning. Shankar Gupta and his supporters confronted them.
At a media meet Saturday, urban development minister Niranjan Pujari, SC/ST development minister Ramesh Majhi and Junagarh MLA Dibyashankar Mishra blamed the BJP and its state president Basant Panda for the violence. Panda dismissed the charge as baseless. The violence erupted over sarpanch elections, he noted, and said the BJP was not in the poll fray.
Locals said the situation was vitiated by the presence of leaders from outside camping in the area for the campaign, as this was the only place where panchayat elections are being held now. They demanded administrative alert to guard against a worsening of the situation in the days preceding the polls.
Meanwhile, the ruling BJD has staged a demonstration at Master Canteen square in Bhubaneswar and burnt an effigy of the state BJP president. Hundreds of BJD workers and several party leaders participated in the demo and raised slogans against the BJP and its leaders who, they said, were responsible for the attack on Ahir.
BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said, “We strongly condemn the brutal attack on our Zilla Parishad candidate Ram Naresh Ahir by BJP goons. We also urge the state government to take strong action against these goons.” BJD secretary Bijay Nayak said, “It was at the instruction of Basant Panda that the candidate supported by the BJP and goon Sankar Prasad Gupta indulged in violence. The saffron party is trying to grab the seat by the violence route like what they did in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. The people of Orissa are believers in peace and harmony, the BJP must refrain from doing so here.”
However, BJP leader Pradip Purohit refuted the charges of the BJD and alleged that his party activist was attacked by the BJD men in Nuapada.
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