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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Keonjhar, Oct 8:

In a major crackdown against illegal collection of donation and distribution of money to influence voters, Odisha’s Keonjhar police have arrested as many as 16 aides of Champua MLA Sanatan Mahakud.

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According to DSP Harish Pandey, the cops conducted simultaneous raids at several places on Thursday and Friday night including at Champua, Joda, Barbil, Rugudi, Bolani, Bamebari and Sadar police station and arrested the men.

“We conducted the raids and arrested these men as directed by the police superintendent. We have arrested 16 anti-social elements and mafia in these raids,” said Pandey.

The arrested men include local influential figures such as former Champua BJD President Girija Shankar Sahoo alia Titu and Satyanand Karua alias Chhotu. Both are seen as close associates of Mahakud.

The action was hailed by members of civil society who had long been accusing Mahakud of distributing money among villagers under some or other head to influence them.

“He had been plotting to destroy the democratic values here (by distributing money). Unfortunately, the young men, who should have spent their time and energy for the betterment of the district fell into the trap of monthly aids and are deviating from their real goal,” said Biplab Mishra, a local activist.

Dhirendra Rout, president of local organisation – progressive citizens’ forum, expressed similar views.

“There is nothing secretive about it (distribution of money). It is being done directly under his watch in the name of Maa Jagat Janai Seva trust. His folks have reached the pinnacle of arrogance. I want to thank the police SP for the action,” said Rout.

He further added that the police would be able to unearth many more dirty secrets of Mahakud empire if they do their job without backing down under pressure.