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Attack on Odisha Minister: Probe points at political links in crimes


Last updated Wednesday July 06, 2016

Odisha, Minister Attack, Maheswar Mohanty, Crime, Politics  
When Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is being projected as icon of transparent political leadership, allegations of criminal links against Maheswar Mohanty, a minister in his cabinet, tell how patronisation of political crimes go well under the mask of Naveen’s transparency.  

Basudev Mahapatra


Political patronisation of crimes and protection to criminals backfire with more severity. This has come true again from what Puri police claims as facts behind the attack on Odisha’s Tourism and Culture Minister Maheswar Mohanty in his home town.

As per Puri Police in Odisha, attack on the Minister was fallout of the murder of Bhagaban Mahapatra alias Guna Singhari, a Councillor who was gunned down in August 2012. As the minister and Guna Singhari were from the same political party BJD, Singhari was considered a rival of Mohanty in the party. As the prime accused arrested in the case was closely associated with the Minister, Singhari’s followers suspected involvement of Minister Mohanty in the murder.


Supporters of Guna Singhari were further outraged as the local BJD MP and a noted advocate Pinaki Mishra fought the case of the accused in the Supreme Court and bailed him out. Since these developments in regard to the murder case, Guna’s supporters were looking for an opportunity to eliminate Mohanty, said Anup Sahu, superintendent of police, Puri.

About the incident of firing, Sahu said that two persons fired at the Minister near Amala Club in Puri town February 21, late in the evening, while three others were giving cover to the shooters. The SP added that the five accused followed the minister a motorcycle throughout the day before opening fire.

The narration of reasons behind attack on the Minister and the whole operation somehow indicated to a link between the attacked Minister and the murder of Guna Singhari. “If police believes the recent attack on the cabinet minister a fall out of Guna Singhari murder case, it must first investigate into the minister’s link in the murder of Singhari,” said former MLA and congress leader from the town Umaballav Rath.

“The district police or, even, the state police cannot take an impartial role and expose the political link because they are played by people in power. So a central agency should be assigned to investigate the case,” Rath added.

Allegations of involvement in criminal activities are not new with Maheswar Mohanty. On 31 March, 2008 he was forced to tender his resignation from the post of Speaker of the Assembly after a suspended lady assistant marshal, Gayatri Panda, levelled charges of sexual harassment against him. But before the charges levelled were cleared, Mohanty managed to re-enter Naveen’s cabinet in May 2011.

When subjects like corruption by misusing power and criminalisation of politics are debated in all major political forums and when Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is being projected as icon of transparent leadership, such allegations of criminal links against a minister of his cabinet tell how patronisation of political crimes go well under the mask of Naveen’s transparency.

If Naveen Patnaik and his government are so committed to keep its transparent image untainted, it must order for impartial probe into the crimes where political links are alleged.

But as politics has now got confined to elections and votes only, and because Naveen and his BJD are too much confident about winning the forthcoming elections and forming the next government in Odisha, nobody knows if an order for impartial probe into politically patronised crimes in the state is going to be issued by Naveen Patnaik or his government.


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