‘Gajapati Collector was around when Paralakhemundi ACF suffered burn injuries’

Bhubaneswar/Paralakhemundi: Three days after the Odisha Crime Branch took over probe into the death of Paralakhemundi Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Saumya Ranjan Mohapatra, new revelations have come to fore today.

During the quizzing of Security Guard Santosh Biswal, who was on duty near entrance of Gajapati DFO Sangram Keshari Behera’s official residence on July 12 night, stated before the three-member Crime Branch that Gajapati Collector Lingraj Panda was present at the DFO’s house at 8 PM.

Speaking to media following over two-hour-long questioning, Santosh said the Gajapati Collector visited the DFO’s quarters on July 12 evening. Even when Saumya Ranjan was being taken to the hospital in an ambulance, the Collector was present there, the Security Guard added.

Also, gardener Ajay Behera was questioned by the Crime Branch team for two hours today. A total of five persons were quizzed on August 17. The probe team questioned four persons on the ACF death case on August 16. ACF Bhaskar Rao, who was neighbour of Saumya Ranjan, and Cook Manmath Kumbha were also quizzed for long time yesterday.

Family members of the deceased ACF have been alleging that the Cook along with Saumya Ranjan’s wife Bidyabharati Panda and the Gajapati DFO murdered Saumya Ranjan.

The Crime Branch team visited the Gajapati CDMO office to quiz the ambulance driver who took the Paralakhemundi ACF to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack.

Crime Branch DSP, Gyanaranjan Mishra told media persons, “If need arises, the probe team may consider to the Gajapati Collector under the probe purview.”

Worth mentioning, the Crime Branch took charge of the probe into the ACF death case from the Gajapati Police on August 15.

During the Paralakhemundi Police’s investigation into the death case, the Gajapati Collector’s presence at the official residence of the DFO was interestingly not revealed.

Saumya Ranjan was shifted in an ambulance to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack from Paralakhemundi with critical burn injuries caused by a fire incident on July 12. He died while undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Cuttack on July 13 where he was admitted by his family members later.

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