Cuttack: MLA Debashish Samantaray was seen manhandling a relative of Odia CRPF Jawan Manoj Behera who was martyred in the Pulwama attack. The video of the same went viral on social media, following which the BJD MLA's act was strongly condemned by the BJP who, on Monday evening, protested at the Niali Bazar area.

On Saturday, the incident took place just when the last respects were paid to Behera before his mortal remains were consigned to flames.

Unaware of being captured on camera, Samantaray was seen pushing the martyred jawan’s uncle who fell down near the coffin. Odisha Minister Pratap Jena, Niali MLA Pramod Mallick and Cuttack-Choudwar MLA Pravat Biswal were also present when the incident took place.

Yesterday evening, the effigy of Samantaray was burnt at the Niali Bazar area by the BJP workers.

“The BJD MLA’s behaviour is heinous and unfortunate. He should be immediately arrested,” BJP Secretary Lekhasri Samantsinghar said.

However, Samantaray or any other BJD leader in connection with the video did not yet give any comments on the matter.

Former Kendrapara MP Baijayant Jay Panda tweeted: “This is awful. This is not what BJD stood for when it was founded (& for more than a dozen yrs thereafter). It was bcz its culture was morphing into this that i spoke out, was ostracised, & quit. Glad i left, i cd’nt be part of something that openly humiliates martyrs’ families.(sic)”

On February 17, as thousands bid a tearful adieu to the bravehearts, the last rites of the two Odia CRPF jawans- Manoj Kumar Behera and Prasanna Kumar Sahu were performed at Ratnapur in Cuttack and Shikhar village in Jagatsinghpur districts respectively.

After the incident, opposition parties targetted the BJD president and chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Terming the incident ‘unfortunate’, Congress spokesperson Satya Prakash Nayak said, “The way the BJD MLA misbehaved and manhandled with the martyr’s kin is totally shameful. This shows the real identity of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the party should apologise for such insult.”

BJP leader Lekhashree Samantsinghar said, “The video clearly shows that the MLA is pushing the kin of the martyr and it speaks volumes about the lawmaker’s character. The MLA should be immediately arrested for his act.”

Odisha Congress Chief Niranjan Patnaik tweeted, “The insensitivity and inhumanity with which BJD MLA Debashish Samantaray treats the kin of braveheart Manoj Behera who made supreme sacrifice for the nation will make any patriot’s blood boil. This deep-rooted arrogance and feudalistic mindset is what BJD is all about.”

BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra, responded to the allegations of the opposition and said, “The way the incident is being portrayed on social media is not justified. When the family of the martyr has not spoken anything, it clearly shows that the statements of opposition parties are politically-motivated.”

Debashish Samantaray tendered his apology after a lot of hue and cry over the incident. He said that he was unaware of the fact that the concerned person was the relative of the martyr.