Opposition BJP on Friday has demanded an unconditional apology from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik soon after a photograph of martyr Ajit Kumar Sahoo's coffin, draped in a BJD flag, went viral on social media.
"Let BJD president Naveen Patnaik tender an unconditional apology for hurting sentiments of the people and the martyr's family," BJP Ex-Servicemen Cell State President Colonel B K Bastia told reporters in Bhubaneshwar adding "It is unfortunate that the martyr's coffin was draped with a BJD flag instead of the tricolor."
The photograph was taken on Thursday and it was uploaded on Friday. Ajit Kumar Sahoo, a jawan of the 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) hailed from Dhenkanal district in Odisha.
Visuals show the body of the jawan wrapped in the BJD party flag bearing the party's conch symbol being lowered out of an ambulance with garlands laid on the martyr.
He was critically injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Jammu & Kashmir's Pulwama district on June 17 and later succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment at the hospital on June 18.
BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra has, however, described the incident as unfortunate and condemnable.
"Our party has a lot of respect for the martyrs and we condemn the incident. Stringent action will be taken against those who are involved in this episode."
BJP national vice president and former MP Baijayant Panda also demanded an apology from the ruling party.
"Very unfortunate, politicising the death of an Indian soldier by the ruling party in Odisha draping his coffin with their party flag instead of the Tricolor. ....," Panda tweeted.
"The BJD people offered floral tribute to the martyr near Khuntuni on the way to our village in Dhenkanal district. They covered the coffin with the BJD flag. The BJD flag was removed later. My brother was not working for any political party," the martyr's brother, Parameswar Sahoo, said.
Odisha governor Ganeshi Lal and many other persons had paid tribute to the martyr as soon the body reached the Biju Patnaik International Airport late night on Wednesday.
The coffin was then taken to Dhenkanal Mini Stadium and later to his native village Badasuanla where his mortal remains was consigned to flames.
(With PTI Inputs)