Bhubaneswar, Nov. 5: Tension gripped strife-torn Kandhamal today afternoon after a contractor, said to be an RSS and BJP sympathiser, was gunned down by suspected Naxalites.
Kandhamal superintendent of police S. Praveen Kumar told The Telegraph that Dhanu Pradhan was gunned down by three unidentified men at Kumarigaon village under Brahmanigaon police station area, 400km from Bhubaneswar.
Kumar, who visited the spot after the incident, said the gunmen had fired more than five rounds at Pradhan, who was a petty contractor and a mason.
A case has been registered under Section 302 of the IPC at Brahmanigaon police station and a search has been launched to nab the men. Kumar said the local police were also probing into the Naxalite angle.
Pradhan was associated with both the local BJP and RSS and would often be seen in their rallies and programmes.
Residents told the police the armed men attacked Pradhan while he was working near a school. They shot the contractor from close range from 9mm revolvers and fled the spot soon after.
Earlier, Naxalites claimed they eliminated VHP leader Swami Laxmananda Saraswati on August 23, that triggered widespread violence in the state claiming more than 37 lives.
Fearing a similar backlash, senior police officers, including Kandhamal SP Kumar, today rushed to the spot with central paramilitary forces in tow, confirmed R.P. Koche, the deputy inspector-general of police (southern range).
Nun rape case
Baliguda sub-divisional judicial magistrates court in Kandhamal fixed November 10 as the date for the test identification parade in the nun rape case and issued a notice asking her to be present at the court.
The court has, however, sent the notice to the Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Diocese, Raphael Cheenath, as the nun remains in hiding. The directive was issued after the state crime branch conceded they had failed to trace the complainant.
Investigating officer Dilip Mohanty told the court they were facing difficulties in conducting the identification parade due to non-co-operation of the people involved, including the nun.
The woman had lodged a complaint at Baliguda police station on August 26 alleging that she was raped at K-Nuagaon village on the previous day.
After facing nationwide flak, the government handed over the case to the crime branch that arrested nine accused. However, the test identification parade could not take place due to the absence of the victim.
Though the state and police appealed to the nun to co-operate, she addressed a media conference at New Delhi where she stated that she did not wish to be victimised by the Orissa police anymore. She also sought a CBI probe into the case.