Mrunal Manmay Dash

In a fresh twist to the controversies surrounding the death of former Paralakhemundi Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra, a watchman formerly posted at the office of the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sangram Behera, on Saturday claimed that he had once seen the DFO visiting Mohapatra’s residence at midnight.

Ganga Pradhan, the watchman told OTV that he had seen Behera visiting Soumya’s home at midnight during winter last year.

Though he could not remember the exact date of his sighting, but, as per his statement, it was during December last year.

“One night while on duty, I saw Behera whose residence is just ahead of Soumya’s, go inside the latter’s residence at midnight,” Pradhan told an OTV correspondent.

Pradhan’s statement assumes significance in the background of the questioning of the DFO by the Crime Branch over his alleged involvement in the case. The DFO came under the scanner following accusations made by the family members of the deceased ACF that the former had an affair with Bidyabharati, Soumya’s widow.

Pradhan also claimed that the DFO had removed him from job unlawfully. “I suspect that I might have lost my job because I saw him (Behera) that night.”

Pradhan also alleged that Behera’s driver and the office gardener knew everything about the case. “The police should have questioned the duo but I do not know why they left them,” Pradhan said.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Odisha Crime Branch on Wednesday recorded the statement of Soumya's family members who have leveled serious allegations against Bidybharati, accusing her of murder.

As per the FIR lodged by the family members of Soumya, Bidyabharati, DFO Sangram Keshari Behera and the cook at the ACF’s quarters were complicit in the murder of the ACF.

Earlier, the Crime Branch had stated that the Gajapati DFO, Sangram Keshari Behera and the deceased officer’s wife Bidyabharati Panda would be subjected to a lie detection test if required.