Lensman Manas Swain murder: Statement of 3rd witness recorded in District Court

Bhadrak: Statement of the third witness, Deepak Kumar Sahu from Jamukoli village under Airfield police limits of Bhubaneswar, was recorded today at District Judge Pradyumna Kumar Nayak’s Court here in connection with much-debated cameraman Manas Ranjan Swain murder case.

Deepak was an aide of the victim and also an artiste who has acted in some of the short films produced by a key accused in the murder case and web channel owner Sarmistha Rout. The third witness was present during the shooting of a controversial short film of Sarmistha on Puri beach in 2022.

Deepak was questioned the day long on various aspects by the defense lawyers, a source said.

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It is pertinent to mention here that Odisha Crime Branch earlier submitted a chargesheet based on its probe. However, the key accused Sarmistha and her aide Jhuna Bhoi along with two other accused persons have been put behind the bars in Bhadrak district as undertrial prisoners (UTPs).

The first witness Debasish Jena aka Bapu from Sadanandapur village under Bansada police limits of Bhadrak earlier said in his first phase of the statement recorded on March 27 this year that he usually hands over all tasks (work orders) for video shooting to Manas assigned by people from the former’s locality and its nearby areas. Similarly, Debasish handed over the video recording task to the victim Manas, which was given by a resident of Palaspur named Balabhadra Bhola on the occasion of marriage ceremony of the elderly man’s daughter.

Manas and one of his associates reached Debasish’s house from Bhubaneswar on February 5, 2022 evening. Debasish took both of them to Palaspur village the next morning and the three returned by a scooter on the morning of February 7, after Manas completed the video recording task.

On their way back, the trio was intercepted near a local temple by a journo named Sarat Panda. Later, two women and two men on board a car (registration number OD-02 6599 with ‘Press’ written on it) who were waiting there for Manas, got down from the vehicle and came near the victim.

The four accused insisted Manas return them a memory chip. When the lensman refused to give any chip, the victim was slapped and dragged up to the car. Debasish could identify the key accused Sarmistha and Jhuna Bhoi alone. Forcibly, Manas was brought in the car to Bhubaneswar.

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