The Odisha Police on Monday seized a helicopter belonging to former Biju Janata Dal MP Baijayant Jay Panda for allegedly flying over the Chilika lake, which is a no-flying zone, on September 15, the Hindustan Times reported. The police have also filed a first information report against Panda.
A police team from Puri reached Bhubaneswar airport on Monday evening and sealed the hangar where the helicopter was kept, hours after an official of the Chilika Development Authority lodged a complaint with the police. The official claimed Panda’s helicopter had made the atmosphere noxious and fouled the water in the lake.
Though the complaint did not name Panda, Puri Superintendent of Police Sarthak Sarangi said the police had been told by the Airport Authority of India that the former MP had flown from the Bhubaneswar hangar to Kendrapara along with two other persons on September 15. “As the AAI authorities did not give us the latitudinal and longitudinal positions of the chopper during the September 15 flight without the approval of DGCA, we sealed the hangar,” Sarangi told the Hindustan Times. “We would wait for details of the flight from DGCA before taking further action.”
The former parliamentarian described the first information report and sealing of the hangar in Bhubaneswar as a “brazen attempt” to stop him from moving around. “The FIR talks of people seeing the chopper at 1.30 pm,” he said. “But I had landed at Bhubaneswar airport at 1.30 pm after flying the chopper from Kendrapara. It seems the government is picking up random reports and twisting it. The cops who had come to seize the chopper told my staff that they were under pressure.”
Panda said he had gone to Narada village in Kendrapara, which he used to represent in the Lok Sabha, to visit the parents of two young children, who drowned in the village pond while playing. “It is impossible to console, but it is my duty to stand by them,” he tweeted.
Panda resigned from the Biju Janata Dal on May 28, saying he was heartbroken that no one from the party had turned up to pay their last respects to his father, industrialist Bansidhar Panda. The rift between him and the party leadership reportedly grew after he wrote a newspaper column analysing the party’s strengths and weaknesses following the 2017 local body polls. In June he alleged that a “new coterie” around Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was misusing his powers.