Manhunt launched to nab absconding BJP candidate Om Prakash Mishra in Odisha

BJP’s Puri candidate in the state assembly polls, Om Prakash Mishra, is facing imminent arrest for destroying EVMs and tearing election documents on Tuesday, during the third phase of the assembly polls. Police have already arrested two of Mishra’s supporters. Sambit Patra is the BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate from Puri.

Three police teams have raided Mishra’s residence at Hansapal in Bhubaneswar but could not find him, the SP said.

By PTI

BHUBANESWAR: A manhunt has been launched to nab Om Prakash Mishra, the BJP candidate for Satyabadi assembly constituency, who along with his supporters allegedly destroyed EVMs and tore poll documents in a booth during the third phase of polling in Odisha on April 23, police said.

“The BJP candidate is absconding since then,” Puri Superintendent of Police, Umashankar Dash, told reporters.  Three police teams have raided Mishra’s residence at Hansapal in Bhubaneswar but could not find him, the SP said.

The police action came on the basis of a complaint lodged by the Presiding Officer, Shivaram Mohapatra.

Mishra and his supporters allegedly entered a polling booth at Birakishorepur village under Kanas block on April 23 and vandalised the EVMs, the presiding officer said in the complaint.

They also allegedly tore important documents related to the polling process, Mohapatra said. “One of them also tried to fire from his pistol, but it slipped from his hand,” said Mohapatra.

The BJP candidate and his supporters fled from the booth in the face of protests by voters.

Meanwhile, two persons identified as Manas Samantaray and Akshaya Kumar Biswal have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the incident. Both are supporters of Om Prakash Mishra, the police official said.

Earlier, a BJP candidate for Sorada assembly seat, Nilamani Bisoi, was arrested on charge of breaking an EVM and preventing polling officials from discharging their duty.

BJD candidate and sitting MLA from Pipili assembly segment, Pradeep Maharathy, has also been arrested on the charge of attacking a magistrate of the EC’s flying squad in Puri district.

Assembly and Lok Sabha elections are being held simultaneously in Odisha.

Puri SP, Umashankar Das, was quoted as saying on Wednesday, “Yesterday when voting was underway, poll candidate Om Prakash Mishra along with his supporters forcibly entered the booth carrying arms. Locals and police present there overpowered two supporters of Mishra and nabbed them. One firearm has been seized from them.”

Mishra had allegedly barged into the polling booth with 20 bike-borne supporters in a polling booth in Satyabadi assembly constituency of Puri on Tuesday.

“I had asked the voters who had queued up to remain within the booth premises. Within no time, 15 people led by Mishra barged into the booth and attacked me. They also destroyed the EVM machines and tore some important poll documents. One of them also tried to fire from his pistol, bit it slipped from his hand,” Presiding Officer Shibram Mohapatra of Balabhadra Nodal Up School polling station in Satyabadi assembly constituency of Puri was quoted by Hindustan Times.

Puri district returning officer Jyoti Prakash Das has said that Mishra, who owns a jewellery shop in the area, will face the full force of law.

Another BJP assembly candidate in Odisha’s Ganjam district, Nilamani Bisoi was arrested on 19 April for destroying the EVM. Bisoi was accused of entering a booth at Renti village under Sorada police station limits, destroying the EVM and stopping polling officials from discharging their duty.

Odisha is going for polls to elect MPs as well as their MLAs to form a new government in the state. The counting will take place on 23 May.