NABARANGPUR/BHUBANESWAR: Three unidentified men gunned down a wheelchair-bound Biju Janata Dal MLA Jagabandhu Majhi and his personal security officer (PSO) at Raighar block in Nabarangpur district on Saturday sending shockwaves in the political circles.
Thirtynine-year-old Majhi, who represents Umerkote Assembly constituency, was distributing land “patta” in Gona village under Raighar police limits when he came under attack. The three bike-borne miscreants pumped bullets into Majhi and his PSO.
While the personal security officer Pinku Patro died on the spot, Majhi succumbed to his injuries on his way to Raighar Hospital. A third person, Ramdas Gond, a villager present at the spot, was injured in the firing.
Although it is yet to be ascertained who was behind the killing, Director-General of Police Manmohan Praharaj said the role of Left Wing extremists cannot be ruled out.
The Orissa Government has ordered a Crime Branch inquiry into the incident.
Additional Director-General of Crime Branch Abhay has been asked to take over the case.
According to eyewitnesses, the three bike-borne youths shot at Patro from point blank range hitting him in the eye. As Patro dropped to the ground dead, the three fired at the BJD MLA near his ear. Then the killer snatched the service revolver of Majhi’s security officer and used it to fire at both of them for a second time. The legislator and the PSO received two bullets each. During the firing, Gond was also hit.
As the killers fled the spot after gunning down the MLA and his PSO raising slogans ‘Maovadi Zindabad,’ the MLA’s driver rushed Majhi to Raighar hospital, 18 km from Gona, where he was declared dead.
Later, Majhi’s body was brought to the police station and postmortem was conducted in the evening. However, the PSO’s body was left at the meeting place for more than one and a half hours till police reached there and took custody. Gona village is situated close to a reserve forest infested by Maoists and is also very close to Chhattisgarh.
Deputy Inspector-General (South Western Range) Saumendra Priyadarshi and Nabarangpur SP Niti Sekhar have rushed to the spot.
In 2004, Majhi, who had espoused the cause of tribals, had come under attack and suffered a spinal cord injury, which had left him confined to wheelchair. In 2007, Majhi had said he was targeted by his political rivals. In 2001, Raighar block of Nabarangpur district had witnessed violent clashes between the tribals and the Bangladeshi settlers. Subsequently, a police firing had claimed lives of three tribals. Majhi, who worked for the tribals, was also under target from the other community. Although Maoists’ role is suspected behind the killing, the simmering tension between the tribals and Bangla settlers assumes significance.
Apprehending law and order problem, additional police forces have been mobilised to Raighar and Umerkote. Majhi’s funeral is likely to be take place at Umerkote on Sunday.