Riot-accused MLA gets bail

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 6.07.09

Phulbani (Orissa), July 5 (PTI): BJP leader and a prime accused in last year’s communal riot in Kandhamal, Manoj Pradhan, was released from jail today, a day after being granted interim bail, to take his oath as an MLA.

Pradhan, who was lodged in jail since his arrest in October, 2008, on charges of murder, riot and arson, was set free after furnishing required documents, a day after a fast-track court here granted him conditional bail for 15 days in two cases.

He had earlier got bail in 12 other cases.

Elected to the Assembly from G-Udaygiri segment in the recent elections, the riot accused was granted bail on the basis of an Orissa High Court order.

Pradhan had earlier moved the high court seeking bail to be able to take oath as a member of the Assembly.

Refuting charges against him, Pradhan told reporters after his release: “I have been falsely implicated. The charges levelled against me are fictitious.”

The riot accused, who is facing charges in seven murders, six cases relating to house torching and an attempt to murder, said he would soon take oath as a legislator and work for the development of his constituency.

State BJP president Suresh Pujari said Pradhan was likely to take oath as an MLA on Tuesday and the party had urged the Speaker and police to provide adequate security to Pradhan. “We fear he (Pradhan) may become a Maoist target,” Pujari said.

Pradhan left for his native village at Raikia in the tribal-dominated district soon after being released and was likely to proceed to Bhubaneswar. While all 146 MLAs have already taken oath as members of the Legislative Assembly, Pradhan could not perform the constitutional duty as he was imprisoned.

The leader, who was initially lodged in G-Udaygiri jail, was shifted to district headquarters jail at Phulbani after elections. He had defeated his nearest Congress rival Ajayanti Pradhan by 20,000 votes in the elections, results of which were announced on May 16.