Odisha MLA held for attack on ECI team

Bhubaneshwar, Apr 22 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 4/22/2019 12:28:25 PM IST

Pradeep Maharathy, six-time Odisha MLA and a Biju Janata Dal (BJD) nominee, was on Monday arrested on charges of leading an attack on an Election Commission of India (ECI) team, during a raid at his farmhouse.

On being informed of the distribution of cash and liquor to influence voters, flying squad members comprising of a Magistrate, police official and others had gone to his farmhouse at Hunkeipur village near Pipili in Puri district to ascertain facts late on Sunday evening.

As soon as they entered the farmhouse, followers of the MLA attacked them and beat them up. The squad members had to flee fearing for their life.

“Maharathy himself rushed towards us and was seen directing his followers to attack us. We were severely beaten and had to flee from the spot,” Rabi Narayan Patra, the Magistrate leading the flying squad, told reporters at Capital Hospital, Bhubaneswar. The MLA and his followers also smashed the recording camera of the flying squad.

On Sunday night, Puri District Collector Jyoti Prasad Das and Superintendent of Police (SP) Umashankar Das had rushed to Pipili to take stock of the situation. After preliminary investigation, a complaint was formally lodged at the Pipili Police Station on Monday morning. The MLA was summoned to the Pipili Police Station for questioning and subsequently arrested. “We have enough grounds to arrest Maharathy,” said Puri SP Das on Monday.

Taking to social media before his arrest, Maharathy had, however, said that those who were guarding the farmhouse mistook flying squad as intruders in the night, which led to a scuffle.

Maharathy, who is contesting the election from the Pipili Assembly Constituency on a BJD ticket, had been in the eye of the storm for wrong reasons in the past. Months ago, he had to step down from the Naveen Patnaik government after he praised a court judgment on the acquittal of a person accused of rape and murder.

Additional security personnel have been deployed in Pipili to keep law and order situation under control. Polling in Pipili Assembly constituency will take place on Tuesday.

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