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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

BJD under fire over party flag on coffin of Odisha jawan killed in Pulwama

Ajit Sahoo of 44 Rashtriya Rifles was killed when militants attacked the bullet and mine-proof patrol vehicle with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Arihal village of Pulwama district.

india Updated: Jun 21, 2019 15:39 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Sahoo’s older brother Parameswar said at Khuntuni some BJD workers put up the Green Party flag with the image of a conch on top the tricolour-draped coffin while offering flowers.
Sahoo’s older brother Parameswar said at Khuntuni some BJD workers put up the Green Party flag with the image of a conch on top the tricolour-draped coffin while offering flowers.(HT Photo)
         

The ruling Biju Janata Dal has come under fire after some of its workers allegedly put the party’s flag on the coffin of the Indian Army soldier, who was killed in an IED attack in south Kashmir’s Pulwama.

Ajit Sahoo of 44 Rashtriya Rifles was killed when militants attacked the bullet and mine-proof patrol vehicle with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Arihal village of Pulwama district. Six soldiers, including Sahoo, and two civilians were injured in the attack. Sahoo and one other soldier later succumbed to their injuries.

Sahoo’s older brother Parameswar said at Khuntuni some BJD workers put up the Green Party flag with the image of a conch on top of the tricolour-draped coffin while offering flowers. He was accompanying his brother’s coffin to their native village of Badasunalo.

“I immediately removed it as I felt it was wrong. My brother was martyred for the country and not any party,” he said.

The incident triggered outrage after some photos of the BJD flag on the jawan’s coffin went viral on social media on Thursday night.

Condemning the incident, the BJD said the party has enormous respect towards martyrs.

“The matter that has come to our notice is extremely unfortunate and we strongly condemn it. The party will find out who is responsible for this and take the stringent action against them,” BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra said.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held a press conference and called it a national disgrace.

“It was a dishonour to the jawan. BJD workers should never have done it. The party should apologise and action should be taken against the culprits,” the BJP’s ex-serviceman cell chief Col (retd) BK Bastia said.

The BJP’s national vice-president Baijayant Panda tweeted: “Very unfortunate politicising death of an Indian soldier by the ruling party in Odisha draping his coffin with their party flag instead of tricolor”.

Sahoo’s brother said the issue shouldn’t be politicised. “We have already lost the sole bread-earner of the family. I don’t want any controversy,” he said.

This is not the first time that ruling BJD has been in the centre of such a controversy.

In February this year, BJD leader and former MLA Debashis Samantray was criticised after a video of his alleged manhandling of the relatives of a CRPF jawan killed in the terrorist attack in Pulwama district on February 14 went viral.

First Published: Jun 21, 2019 15:06 IST