Paradip/Bhubaneswar, Dec. 21: Members in the Odisha Assembly today stepped up their demand for the arrest of Bapi Sharkhel even though the Jagatsinghpur police today claimed to have arrested four hoodlums who allegedly engineered the December 14 violence at Bose Callis’ point near the proposed Posco project area.
Sharkhel’s men had clashed with local residents in the incident that claimed one life.
Sharkhel’s alleged involvement in the incident had been acknowledged even by chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
He had told the Assembly on December 19 that he had directed the police to apprehend all the accused persons involved in the incident, including Bapi Sharkhel.
Paradip sub-divisional police officer Shantanu Kumar Das said four persons involved in the Bose Callis’ point clash — Lalit Bhujabala, Chandrabhanu Pattnaik, Bula Swain and Sanatan Mohanty — have been arrested. They were members of the workers’ union headed by Sharkhel, said Das.
CPI leader N. Narayan Reddy disputed the claim of the police officer that various teams were on the job to apprehend Sharkhel.
He said: “Police have provided him safe passage.” On December 15, a local Congress leader Jayant Biswal had been arrested in connection with the clash.
In the Assembly, members belonging to the Opposition and the ruling BJD once again raised the issue and demanded the arrest of Sharkhel.
Even rival factions of the ruling BJD have come together on the issue.
Paradip MLA Damodar Rout and his arch rival Jagatsinghour MLA Bishnu Charan Das today reiterated their demand for Sharkhel’s arrest.
BJP legislature party leader K.V. Singhdeo and BJD legislator Rout referred to an audio CD purportedly containing the conversation between BJD MLA Debasish Samantray and CPI leader N. Narayan Reddy about Sharkhel.
They claimed that Samantray was heard extending support to the anti-Posco movement and asking Reddy to raise the demand for the arrest of Sharkhel.
Jagatsinghpur legislator Das hinted that Sharkhel was enjoying the patronage of Rout. He demanded that the so-called audio CD being aired by a TV channel be brought under the investigation. Samantray was not present in the House.