BJP MLAs stage protest in Odisha Assembly over woman PEO’s ‘mysterious’ death

Bhubaneswar: BJP legislators in Odisha staged a silent protest in the Assembly on Friday, demanding a CBI probe into the “mysterious” death of a woman panchayat officer in the state’s Jajpur district.

As soon as the House assembled, the saffron party MLAs, led by Leader of Opposition Pradipta Kumar Naik, stood on the benches, with their mouths covered with black scarves.

The protesters claimed that Biswal was “murdered” and the ruling BJD was trying to “hush up” the matter. However, following a request by Speaker SN Patro, they took their seats, with the black scarves still wrapped around their bodies as a mark of protest. The BJP lawmakers also abstained from the House proceedings during the Zero Hour and the Question Hour.

A woman panchayat officer, Smitarani Biswal, was on October 16 found hanging at a private guest house owned by Rupesh Bhadra, known to have links with the ruling BJD. Bhadra was arrested a day after on the charge of abetting suicide.

Patro, earlier in the day, had rejected a motion moved by the saffron party, seeking a debate on the issue. A discussion on the matter, however, was held in the House based on a Congress notice.

“We were not allowed to speak our mind on the issue. The Speaker did not allow a motion on the subject. We will continue to protest till the state government books the accused under section 302 (murder) of the IPC instead of 306 (abetment of suicide). We want a CBI probe into Biswal’s mysterious death,” Leader of Opposition Pradipta Kumar Naik told reporters outside the House.

Naik alleged that Biswal was “raped and killed” at the private guest house. “The woman was killed, but the police registered a case of unnatural death and arrested one person under section 306. There is an attempt to hush up the case as the accused is close to the BJD leadership,” the senior BJP leader added.

On Thursday, during a debate in Assembly, Minister of State for Home D S Mishra had rejected the demand for a CBI probe into the incident and claimed that the Odisha Police was “sincerely” investigating into the matter. The minister also said that Biswal’s postmortem report revealed that she died of asphyxia.

(PTI)

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