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Odisha Cong HQ turns battlefield as rival NSUI factions fight pitched battle over polls

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Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Mar 25:

Crude bombs were hurled and ballot papers were set afire as rival factions of the National Student’s Union of India (NSUI), the students’ wing of the Congress, fought a pitched battle during an NSUI election at the Congress Bhavan here this afternoon.

Pic: Biswaranjan Mishra
Pic: Biswaranjan Mishra

Ten youths injured during the clash between the two groups, one led by Hitesh Pradhan and the other by Barun Kumar Sahoo, were admitted to the Capital Hospital.

Later three IICs and two platoons of police forces rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.

OPCC President Prasad Harichandan and many senior leaders of the party rushed to Congress Bhavan after getting information about the clash.

In a desperate bid to stop the election from going ahead, one faction destroyed ballot boxes and set fire to ballot papers. They also shoved some ballot papers down a nearby drain.

Sources in the Congress said representatives of NSUI from 15 districts – including Puri, Khordha, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara – had come to Congress Bhawan to participate in the election for the posts of state president, general secretary, secretary and others scheduled for today.

The election was, however, cancelled after the clash today and rescheduled for March 28, the sources said.

Another date of election for rest 15 districts will be held on March 28, sources added.

Pic; Biswaranjan Mishra
Pic; Biswaranjan Mishra

Congress has sought to make light of the incident saying those involved in the clash were ‘outsiders’. “They were outsiders, some hooligans who had somehow got into Congress Bhavan. Congressmen will never do such a thing,” said senior leader Suresh Routray.

A thorough investigation will be conducted into the incident and strong action will be taken against those involved in the violence, he said.

“It is an inhuman act. Those who have done it are dogs. If they think they can demoralize the Congress in the state through such an act, they are mistaken,” Routray added.