Paralakhemundi ACF Death: Crime Branch clean chit to DFO; Bidya Bharati booked

Bhubaneswar: Terming the death of Paralakhemundi ACF Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra as an accident, Odisha Crime Branch today gave clean chit to DFO Sangram Keshari Behera and cook Manmath Kumbh.

However, the investigating agency found criminality on the part of the deceased’s wife Bidya Bharati Panda.

Crime Branch ADG Sanjeeb Panda said that the burning incident was an accident and the two accused — Sangram Keshari Behera and Manmath Kumbh — had no role in it. The agency concluded this after examining witnesses, forensic exhibits collected by Gajapati police and SFSL and CDR analysis.

“The incident took place at Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra’s official residence. During probe, no evidence of relation between the DFO and Bidya Bharati could be established. Besides, the cook was also not involved in the burning incident,” the ADG said.

“There was no evidence of homicidal or suicidal death. It was an accidental death and the same was corroborated from his dying declaration,” he said.

“While he was burning papers by pouring kerosene, accidentally his legs slipped and kerosene got poured on him and he caught fire,” the official said.

Bidya Bharati and her husband were not on good marital terms. She didn’t try enough to douse the fire. Neither enough water was not poured on him nor any external help was sought by her,” said the top cop.

She has been booked under Sections 304-A (causing death by negligence) and 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter) of IPC, he said, adding that charge sheet has been filed against her today and notice has been served to her.

Worth mentioning, Sections 304  A and 285 are bailable offences and the accused may serve a maximum jail term of two years, if convicted.

“If it was an accident then under what circumstances it took place? If it was an accident then how come Bidya Bharati was negligent in not dousing the fire? This is all eyewash. The Crime Branch is trying to hoodwink people,” said Partha Sarathi Nayak, Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra family’s lawyer.

The deceased’s family members had recently knocked on the doors of Orissa High Court seeking CBI probe alleging tardy progress of investigation. Besides, they had expressed their displeasure over the way the police was investigating the case.

Earlier, the three prime accused were subjected to series of interrogations followed by polygraph test at the State Forensic Science Laboratory (SFSL) here.

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