The Jharkhand Police have summoned Bharatiya Janata Party candidate for the December 5 Bhanupratappur bypoll in Chhattisgarh and three others who have been named as accused in a rape case in the neighbouring state.
According to the police notices dated November 28, all the four persons, natives of Kanker district in Chhattisgarh, have been asked to appear at Kanker police station at 10 am on Tuesday and cooperate in the investigation into the case. On November 20, the ruling Congress had claimed former BJP MLA Brahmanand Netam, the saffron party’s nominee for the Bhanupratappur bypoll, was accused in a rape case lodged at Telco police station in Jamshedpur on May 15, 2019 and that he allegedly concealed the offence registered against him in his election affidavit.
A police team from Telco police station in Jharkhand reached Kanker on Monday and contacted local police to trace the whereabouts of Netam and three other accused Keshav Sinha, Naresh Soni and Deepankar Sinha, a senior Chhattisgarh Police official said.
The case was lodged under sections 366 A (procuration of minor girl), 376 (rape), 376 AB (rape on a woman under twelve years of age) and other relevant section of the Indian Penal Code, provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, he said.
The Jharkhand Police team carried out searches at various places in the district on Monday, the official said.
On Tuesday morning, the Jharkhand cops accompanied by local police were seen outside the houses of all the four accused and serving the notices.
The Jharkhand Police team’s arrival has triggered a political storm with the opposition BJP in Chhattisgarh on Monday accusing Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel of hatching a conspiracy by colluding with the Hemant Soren-led government in Jharkhand to malign Netam’s image, fearing defeat in the byelection.
BJP leaders also questioned why the Jharkhand Police did not act for so long when the case was lodged in 2019.
The bypoll to the Bhanupratappur seat in Kanker district, reserved for the Scheduled Tribes candidates, was necessitated due to the death of Congress MLA and Chhattisgarh Assembly’s Deputy Speaker Manoj Singh Mandavi last month.