Odisha Minister Speaks Out After Being Dragged Into BJD ZP Member ‘Death By Suicide’

Bhubaneswar: Amid the clamour for his scalp over the alleged death by suicide of BJD zilla parishad member Dharmendra Sahoo, School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash on Monday said that he was not aware of the controversy brewing over the matter.

Expressing grief over Sahoo’s death, the Minister said: “I am deeply saddened by his (Dharmendra Sahoo’s) death. He was a ZP member from my zone. I have no idea about what is being discussed, his family hasn’t said anything. I don’t think I should answer to the allegations made by Opposition parties.”

Sahoo, a zilla parishad member from Gop area in Puri district, was found hanging from the ceiling of the parking area of his house in Sisupalgarh under Dhauli police on Saturday. The postmortem report has confirmed that he died of asphyxia due to hanging and there were no external injuries on his body.

Also Read: Odisha ZP Member’s Suicide: Postmortem Report Out; Police To Grill Wife, Cook Today

His death, however, took a controversial turn after BJP accused Dash of interfering in his family matters.

Terming it as a well-planned murder, senior BJP leader and party’s State vice-president Pravati Parida had on Saturday alleged that Sahoo took the extreme step as a senior leader of the BJD was interfering in his family matters. He blamed Dash for his marital discord for which Sahoo had attempted suicide a fortnight ago.

In his video messages, which he loaded on social media hours before allegedly ending his life, the 48-year-old BJD leader requested the police to examine the contents of his mobile phones. Sahoo said that he had been keeping unwell for the past few months and mentioned being recently discharged from a hospital here in one of the videos while adding that there were some disturbances in his family due to his political career. He also hit out at a journalist alleging he was spreading fake news against him.

The phones, which were found a few metres away from his house at Laxmi Vihar in Sisupalgarh, have been sent to State Forensic Science Laboratory (SFSL).

Also Read: 2 Mobile Phones Sent For Forensic Test; Cong Seeks Impartial Probe

BJP youth wing president (Bhubaneswar) Swayam Sevak Ray, who along with BJP supporters, took out a protest march from the party office till Ram Mandir on Sunday, demanded immediate action against the minister. “Sahoo might have been murdered. Minister Samir Dash should be brought under the purview of the investigation as he is responsible for marital discord in the Sahoos’ lives. Sahoo had attempted suicide a few days ago following his political rivalry with the minister,” he told the media.

A Congress delegation also met Bhubaneswar DCP Prateek Singh and demanded that Dash be interrogated in connection with Sahoo’s death. “We demand a fair and impartial inquiry,” said working president of Puri district Congress committee Lalatendu Das.

The BJD is yet to issue any official statement on the matter.

Notably, Sahoo’s father-in-law alleged that he was addicted to alcohol and had forced his nephew, who was staying with him, to leave the house on Friday evening. The BJD leader also threatened his wife with dire consequences, following which he took her and his grandson to his place at 10 pm.

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