Paralakhemundi: The mysterious death of Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra has taken a new turn Saturday after a former night watchman claimed he saw Gajapati Divisional Forest Office (DFO) Sangram Keshari Behera visit the residence of the ACF between 12 midnight and 12.30 am.
Such revelation has come at a time when the Crime Branch is still to resolve the mystery behind the death of the ACF. 50 days have passed since the ACF was found dead at his official residence.
The statement of the night watchman gives credence to the repeated allegations by the family members of the deceased ACF that the DFO had illicit relations with his wife Bidyabharati.
It is expected that night watchman’s allegation against the DFO will force the Crime Branch to bring out the truth. DFO Sangram Behera is one of the accused in the case.
Former night watchman Ganga Pradhan alleged that he was sacked from his job after he saw DFO Sangram Behera visit the house of ACF Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra at around 12.30 pm one night.
Pradhan also accused two other staff of the DFO — driver Prafulla and gardener Ajay – of hatching a conspiracy to remove him and four others from jobs.
He further said all the staff members in the DFO office will reveal the truth only after Sangram is transferred from there. The Crime Branch had earlier interrogated Sangram for nearly three hours where he denied the charge of his relationship with Bidyabharati Panda.
Notably, Soumya Ranjan had been rescued in a critical condition with severe burns from his official quarters in Paralakhemundi July 12. He succumbed to his injuries July 13 while undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Cuttack.
The autopsy report of Soumya Ranjan’s body by the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (FM&T), SCB Medical College and Hospital stated that the death of the officer was caused due to 95% burn injuries.
However, Soumya’s father Abhiram Mohapatra had filed a police complaint alleging his son was killed by his daughter-in-law Bidyabharati in connivance with DFO Behera and cook Manmath Kumbha.
Behera had earlier been given a clean chit in connection with the case by the former Gajapati Superintendent of Police Tapan Kumar Patnaik. As the mystery of ACF’s death could not be resolved even after a month, the state government handed over the case to the Crime Branch, which is yet to crack it.