A district court in Odisha on Monday ordered to book former Odisha law minister and senior Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA Pratap Jena under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in the double murder case involving a 75-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader two and half years ago.
On Monday, the court of judicial magistrate first class in Salipur of Cuttack district ordered that a prima facie case under section 302, 506 and 120 B of the IPC is made against Jena after perusal of statements of the complainant, witnesses, and other available materials on record.
“On further perusal of the case record, it is found that Pratap Kumar Jena is MLA of Mahanga constituency. Hence, the case record be transferred to the court of the additional district & sessions judge-cum-special court, Bhubaneswar for disposal in accordance to law,” the court said.
On January 2, 2021, Kulamani Baral, 75, in-charge of Salepur mandal of the BJP and his associate Dibyasingh Baral, 80, were hacked to death near Jankoti village in Odisha’s Mahanga tehsil.
While Baral succumbed to his injuries on the spot, Dibyasingh died while undergoing treatment at the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack the next morning.
Though police had booked Jena, the then law minister and 12 others in the case following a first information report by Baral’s son, his name was subsequently dropped from the charge sheet by police.
Baral’s son then lodged a complaint against the law minister before the court of JMFC, alleging that the investigation done was perfunctory as police completely overlooked the allegation against Jena and wrongly recorded the statement of witnesses to shield him.
Prabin Kanungo, the advocate of the complainant said that a notice will be served to Jena to appear before the court. Meanwhile, Jena could not be contacted for his comments on the development.
Incidentally, the body of Prafulla Biswal, the prime accused in the case, was found on a road in the Tangi area more than a month later under mysterious circumstances.
Jena was dropped from chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s cabinet last year as the opposition gunned for his head.