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Hours Before Vote Counting, Cong Candidate From Odisha’s Aska Assembly Seat Shot at, Injured

Representative image

Representative image

Manoj Kumar Jena and his associate, Anil Kumar Swain, were rushed to MKCG Medical College and Hospital in a profusely bleeding condition.

Bhubaneswar: Hours before counting for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections begins in Odisha, the Congress candidate for Aska Assembly constituency in the state and one of his associates were shot at by six unidentified assailants at Berhampur in Ganjam district late on Wednesday evening.

Congress candidate Manoj Kumar Jena and his associate, Anil Kumar Swain, were rushed to MKCG Medical College and Hospital in a profusely bleeding condition. Jena received bullets in his neck and chest. The assailants also reportedly slashed his neck after shooting at him. Swain received a bullet in one of his hands.

With Jena’s condition remaining critical, he was shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack later.

The police said Jena and Swain were fired upon from close range at Oxford School Square near Lanjipalli in Berhampur town while they were returning from Bhubaneswar in a four-wheeler. The assailants, who came on two bikes, escaped after committing the crime. In their hurry to escape, they met with an accident as one of their bikes hit a boy nearby which left him injured.

A gun and one of the bikes used by the assailants were recovered from the spot. Police said the assailants had apparently followed Jena and Swain for some distance before firing at them. An investigation is on and more details are awaited.

Additional Superintendent of Police (Berhampur) Pravat Routray said the exact cause of the firing was unknown. "We suspect it to be due to previous enmity," the ASP said.

They immediately fled from the spot towards Andhra Pradesh side before anyone could find out what exactly happened, he said.

Ganjam is Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s home district. Patnaik contested the Lok Sabha elections from Hinjli Assembly constituency in Ganjam and has earlier represented Aska Lok Sabha constituency.