Bhubaneswar: The brutal murder of lensman Manas Swain is getting murkier with every passing day.
Even as the probing-team of Odisha Crime Branch is yet to unravel the mystery behind the memory chip over which the cameraman is believed to have been killed, a friend of him Friday disclosed about the content of the tiny semiconductor device.
According to a private source, Swain’ friend has said that the memory chip contained a short video film which was recorded in Puri. The video featured retired OIS officer and former Director (Technical) of state Information and Public Relations (I&PR) Department Niranjan Sethi and a few artists, which was shot while they were taking bath in sea at a secluded location near Puri beach.
“Niranjan Sethi, Sarmistha Rout, Manas Swain and I (Swain’s friend), including two girls and a woman had gone to Puri to shoot the short film January 29. Sethi was the ‘lead actor’ in the film, which was shot by Swain. There was a scene in which the retired officer and other actors were bathing. We all returned from Puri the same day after the shooting was finished,” Swain’s friend stated.
“Swain had telephoned me few days later and told Sethi and ‘Sampurna’ web channel owner Sarmistha had severely beaten him and forcibly taken away the camera from him. My friend possessed the memory chip. He had also told me that he would have given the memory chip to them, had they returned him the camera,” the friend added.
“Swain possessed a memory chip containing videos and photos which could have landed Sarmistha in trouble, for which she tried to obtain it by hook or crook. Even to the extent, she had hatched a murder plan. The woman had hired Bhagyadhar Nayak, Vivek Nayak and Krushna Chandra Nayak for executing her plan,” a police official expressed.
It is pertinent to mention, a five-member team of Odisha Crime Branch investigating the kidnapping and murder of lensman Manas Swain Friday visited the kidnapping site at Palaspur village under Chandbali police limits in Bhadrak district and quizzed a few villagers.
Led by DSP Kalpana Sahu, the team quizzed a few villagers regarding the murder of the cameraman. The team met senior police officials in Bhadrak and was briefed about the progress in the probe.
The probe team was accompanied by Chandbali IIC Karunakar Rout and Mato outpost in-charge Buddhiram Mohanty.
Swain was kidnapped in a car February 7 by his former employer Sarmistha and some of her associates when he had come to the village for videographing a wedding ceremony.
A man named Achinta Rout had invited Swain. After learning about his visit, Sarmistha along with her associates hatched a plan and reached the village. They waited throughout the night at the village end and kidnapped Swain while he was heading back to Bhubaneswar February 7 morning.
They then brought him to Dayal Ashram in Bhubaneswar, where he is believed to have been killed.
It is said that Swain was asked to return the memory chip and was severely beaten up prior to his death. Later, the accused took his body and buried it at a hill located in Ranpur of Nayagarh district.
Chandbali police was previously probing the case which was handed over to the Crime Branch a couple of days ago.
A twist came in the case when Chandbali police of Bhadrak arrested the former Director Sethi March 21 over his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and murder.
So far, police have arrested six persons including Sethi, his associate Ranjan Nayak, Bhagyadhar, Vivek, Krushna Chandra and Sarmistha’s brother Parameswar Rout in connection with the case.
Efforts are still on, after the Crime Branch took over investigation of the case, to trace and apprehend Sarmistha and her close associate named Jhuna Bhoi.
The lensman Swain was a resident of Godipokhari village in Ranpur area of Nayagarh district. He was working for the Bhubaneswar-based web channel run by Sarmistha.