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Ramakanta Biswas

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  • Two colleagues of deceased ACF Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra questioned by Crime Branch

A team of Odisha Crime Branch on Monday questioned two colleagues of deceased Paralakhemundi assistant conservator of forest (ACF) Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra, two days after taking over the probe of the sensational death case.

Two ACFs who were deceased Soumya's colleagues faced marathon grilling by the probe agency for about four hours. 
When asked about the questioning, Gouri Prasad Rath, one among the two ACFs, said, “I have answered all the questions asked by the probe team and do not have anything to say.”

Asked about the differences between the earlier questioning by the Gajapati police and the Crime Branch, he said, “I cannot say as the case is under investigation.”    

Apart from the two, the Crime Branch today also summoned the deceased’s cook Manmath Kumb and three foresters for questioning in connection with the case.

Crime Branch DSP Gyana Ranjan Mishra said that deceased’s wife Bidya Bharati Panda, divisional forest officer (DFO) Sangram Keshari Behera and cook Manmath Kumb have been booked under IPC Sections pertaining to murder and criminal conspiracy following the complaint of the deceased’s family. 

Cook Manmath Kumb is said to be a key witness. The Crime Branch team will interrogate him about the circumstances that led to the fire mishap and caused the death of the ACF at the officer’s government quarters. 

It is learnt that the Crime Branch will also conduct a round of fresh interrogation of the DFO and deceased’s wife Bidya Bharati who earlier faced grilling by the Gajapati police.

It is reminded here that Soumya Ranjan had sustained burn injuries at his quarters on July 11. He succumbed while being treated at a private hospital in Cuttack a day later. 

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 is due to burn injuries sustained involving about 95% body surface area.'

Later, the Gajapati SP gave clean chit to the DFO Sangram Keshari Behera which came under sharp criticism from several quarters, including allegations of attempted cover up by the deceased’s family. The decuased’s family also pointed an accusing finger at the Forest Minister in the mysterious death. Days later, the Private Secretary to the Forest Minister was abruptly shunted out.

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