Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren was booked by police on Friday after a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate for the ongoing assembly polls accused him of leading an attack on a BJP office near Dumka - one of the two seats the CM is contesting.
Two FIRs were lodged against Soren, his younger brother and bodyguards for allegedly manhandling BJP workers, vandalising their party office and violating the model code of conduct a ahead of the final phase of polling on Saturday.
BJP's nominee from Dumka, Luis Marandi, said Soren led a gang of ruffians to Murabahal village - about 10 kilometres from the district headquarters and a bastion of the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) - and ransacked the BJP office there on Thursday night.
"The BJP workers present in the election office were beaten up. They also damaged two vehicles," she said.
Marandi and her supporters sat on a dharna in protest, blocking roads near the area deputy commissioner's office.
The BJP has proven to be a stiff challenge to JMM in Jharkhand, where it presents the alternative of a stable government in the state that has seen nine chief ministers and been under President's Rule three times after it was carved out of Bihar in 2000.
"We have reviewed the incident site. Action against the responsible persons would be taken," said Sudhir Kumar, civil sub-divisional officer in Dumka.
A BJP delegation led by state president Ravindra Rai and former chief minister Arjun Munda also met chief electoral officer PK Jajoria in Ranchi and lodged complaints.
"I have talked to DC (deputy commissioner) Dumka after receiving complaints from the BJP delegation which met me on Friday. The DC has informed that an FIR has been registered and investigation is on," said Jajoria.
Chief minister Hemant Soren termed the charges "fabricated" and said the BJP was indulging in dirty tactics sensing a rout. "Hum chudiyan nahin pahne hain (we are not wearing bangles)," he said, hitting out at the accusers.
JMM's central spokesperson, Binod Pandey, rejected the BJP's accusations and said Soren was not present in Murabahal at the time of the incident.
"The CM was in Masalia. We have information that some criminals from Bihar were moving around in Murabahal village. The villagers had beaten them up. It was a clash between the outsiders and the villagers," he said.
JMM general secretary Vijay Singh, on the other hand, alleged that about two dozen unidentified BJP workers manhandled ruling party worker Prakash Tudu on Thursday night.
Tudu was receiving treatment at Dumka Sadar hospital and doctors termed his condition critical, sources said. "An FIR has been lodged against the unidentified assailants with Masalia police station," Singh said.