Odisha BJP candidate arrested for allegedly toppling EVM, manhandling officials - Hindustan Times
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Odisha BJP candidate arrested for allegedly toppling EVM, manhandling officials

ByDebabrata Mohanty
May 26, 2024 07:41 PM IST

In another incident, BJD’s Chhendipada MLA Susanta Kumar Behera was accused of attacking a BJP worker during polling in Angul district

The Odisha police on Sunday arrested Prashant Jagdev, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA candidate from Khordha assembly constituency, for allegedly toppling an electronic voting machine (EVM) and manhandling two polling personnel during the polling on Saturday, officials said.

Prashant Jagdev, BJP MLA candidate from Odisha’s Khordha assembly constituency. (File)
Prashant Jagdev, BJP MLA candidate from Odisha’s Khordha assembly constituency. (File)

Police said Jagdev allegedly vandalised property inside the booth, including an EVM, and manhandled two polling personnel, including a woman, in booth no 114 of Kaunripatana under Bolagarh block in Khordha district on Saturday when the polling was on. Follow full coverage of the Lok Sabha elections.

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Chief electoral officer (CEO) of Odisha, Nikunja Bihari Dhal, said as per CCTV evidence, Jagdev kicked the table on which the EVM was kept.

“In the webcasting system at the polling booth, Jagdev can be seen manhandling a woman polling staff and the presiding officer,” said additional director general of police (law and order) Sanjay Kumar.

Police detained him based on a first information report (FIR) filed by presiding officer Manoranjan Tripathy and later arrested him. Police said Jagadev was fleeing when cops caught him.

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They booked him under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including charges such as trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint, use of abusive, humiliating or defamatory words, assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty, voluntarily causing hurt and undue influence at elections among others.

However, supporters of Jagdev said that the allegations levelled against him were politically motivated. They alleged that the presiding officer at the booth misbehaved with several voters and did the same with the MLA. They demanded that the CCTV footage of the incident be made public.

In 2022, Jagdev, then with the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), was charged with attempt to murder when he allegedly tried to run his sports utility vehicle (SUV) over BJP workers in Banapur area of Khordha district. Following this, he was arrested and then expelled from the BJD.

In another incident on Saturday in Angul district, BJD’s Chhendipada MLA Susanta Kumar Behera was accused of attacking a BJP worker at Similisahi under Kosala block during polling. Behera entered the booth triggering protests by the BJP workers. Behera then allegedly thrashed BJP worker Sidhartha Shankar Sahoo. Sahoo lodged an FIR at Chhendipada police station against Behera. A counter FIR was also lodged by the MLA.

In Athagarh assembly constituency, a man was critically injured after bombs were hurled at his house. A BJP worker named Balia Nayak of Belaanta village was seriously injured when bombs were hurled at his house after polls ended. Similarly, four persons sustained injuries due to a clash between BJD and BJP workers at booth number 115 at Radhagobindapur. A presiding officer in the constituency too was suspended as he took the EVM to a coaching centre, instead of the control room.

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