Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The Crime Branch investigation into the mysterious death of former Paralakhemundi Assistant Conservator of forest (ACF) Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra gathered more steam on Wednesday when the sleuths questioned three doctors from the Paralakhemundi Hospital who had attended to the severely burned officer after he was charred under suspicious circumstances on July 11.

The marathon questioning of the doctors was carried out at the premises of the Chief District Medical Office in Gajapati.
Sources said the Crime Branch sleuths quizzed the doctors about the circumstance under which the officer was admitted to the hospital. The doctors were also quizzed about the kind of treatment provided to the officer, who were the medical staff involved in the treatment and under what circumstances it was decided to shift the patient to Cuttack.

Soumya Ranjan had sustained burn injuries at his quarters on July 11 and was initially rushed to the Paralakhemundi hospital for treatment. Later he was shifted to a private hospital in Cuttack where he succumbed to his injuries while undergoing treatment. On July 26, the post-mortem report of the deceased was released which stated that the young forest officer had died of burn injuries. The post-mortem report stated that the death was due to the burns sustained involving about 95 percent body surface area.

Significantly, the Crime Branch decided to question the doctors just three days after it took over the sensational death probe from the local police.

Later in the day, a Tehsildar, who recorded the dying declaration of Soumya Ranjan, was questioned by the Crime Branch team for one hour. Speaking to media, Crime Branch DSP said, "Everyone linked and named accused in the case will be questioned. If needed, Paralakhemundi police station in-charge Vivekananda Swain, who was the investigating officer in the case, will also be grilled." 

In the previous two days, the sleuths had questioned two colleagues of the deceased officer. Apart from the duo, the Crime Branch also summoned the deceased’s cook Manmath Kundu and three foresters for questioning in connection with the case.