'Declare Odisha ex-minister absconder'

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday demanded that the Odisha government should officially declare former minister Raghunath Mohanty as an absconder.

Mohanty, a senior leader of the Biju Janata Dal, has remained untraceable since middle of this month after his daughter-in-law, Barsa Soni Choudhury, filed an FIR against him and his family members alleging dowry torture and harassment.

The human rights protection cell (HRPC) of the state police which is investigating the case, however, has arrested the minister’s son and Barsa’s husband Raja Shree Mohanty who is currently lodged in a Balasore prison. Though police teams have already conducted raids in the ex-minister’s homes in Balasore and Bhubaneswar, they have not been able to arrest Mohanty or his wife, daughter and son-in-law — all accused in the case.

“There are prima facie evidences against the former minister in the case and therefore he should be declared an absconder,” senior BJP leader and a former president of party’s state unit Suresh Pujari said.

The members of the women’s wing of the BJP’s state unit on Monday staged a demonstration in front of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s residence here demanding Mohanty’s immediate arrest. There was a scuffle between the police and the women activists as some of the BJP women leaders made an attempt to force their entry into the chief minister’s residence near the city airport.

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