Ramakanta Biswas

In a major development in the probe into the death of Paralakhemundi assistant conservator of forest (ACF) Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra, the Odisha police on Saturday conducted a polygraph test (lie detection) on the divisional forest officer (DFO) Sangram Keshari Behera.

Behera, one of the accused in the sensational death of the young forest service officer, underwent the test for over three hours which was conducted at the State Forensic Science Laboratory in Bhubaneswar. 

According to sources, at least 100 questions were thrown at the DFO during the three-hour test in order to unravel the truth behind the death of Mohapatra. 

The polygraph test assumes significance amid repeated demands of arrest of the DFO by the family members of the deceased who alleged his direct involvement in the tragic death of the young officer. The family members have also named Bidya Bharati Panda, the widow of Soumya Ranjan, as a co-accused in FIR they have lodged at the Paralakhemundi police station following the mysterious death of the officer. 

Sources close to the development said that Manmath Kumbha, the cook at the ACF’s quarters, who also figures as an accused in the FIR, also underwent lie detection test today. 

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

The case was initially investigated by the Paralakhemundi police. The police however failed to make any breakthrough even after over one month of the probe. Later the Odisha Crime Branch took over the probe and questioned more than 14 people including the DFO, Bidya Bharati who are related to the case.