Paralakhemundi ACF death case: Odisha court issues NBW against wife, former DFO

Bhubaneswar: In a fresh development in the death case of former Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra, the court of Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM) in Paralakhemundi in Odisha has issued Non-Bailable Warrant (NBW) against the deceased’s wife Bidya Bharati Panda, former Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sangarm Behera and the latter’s cook Manmath Kumbha.

The SDJM court issued the NBW against the three accused after they failed to depose in connection with the case despite repeated reminders.

The court has directed the three accused to depose before it on July 7, sources said.

The court had initiated criminal conspiracy proceedings against the three accused as per a petition filed by the deceased ACF’s father Abhiram Mohapatra.

The SDJM court had earlier summoned the trio several times to appear before it. However, the three accused did not appear before the court and sought time to do the same, sources added.

According to reports, the ACF was found in critical condition with burn injuries at his residence in Paralakhemundi on July 12, 2021. Mohapatra succumbed to his injuries while undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Cuttack the next day.

On July 14, his family lodged a complaint against the former Gajapati DFO, Bidya Bharati and Manmath Kumbha alleging murder. Considering the gravity of the incident, the state government had handed over the probe to the Crime Branch on August 14.

On October 8, 2021, the Crime Branch gave clean chit to Behera and Kumbha, but booked Bidya Bharati under sections 304-A (causing death by negligence) and 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter) of IPC.

The agency termed the incident as an ‘accidental death’ making it clear that Behera and Kumbha had no role in it. Further, the Crime Branch said that the agency during the probe found no evidence of any relation between the DFO and Bidya Bharati.

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