Mrunal Manmay Dash

The court of the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM) in Malkangiri has summoned former district Collector Manish Agarwal in connection with the death of his Personal Assistant (PA) Debnarayan Panda.

The court has also issued summon notices to three associates of the Collector. The court has asked the bureaucrat to appear on January 24.

is pertinent to mention here that the Crime Branch of Odisha, after investigating the mysterious death of Panda, had given a clean chit to Agarwal in December 2022. The deceased's family members had brought murder allegations against the Collector.

However, despite a clean chit by the Crime Branch, the court had felt that the case needed more thorough investigation and asked the witnesses and Panda’s wife Banaja to depose, subsequently summoning Agarwal to appear on January 24.

In the order, the court maintained, “The case record is put up on the basis of the requisites filed by the complainant. The complainant has submitted the requisites as per the previous order. Accordingly, notice is issued to the accused persons for appearance on January 24.”

It is worthwhile to mention that Debnarayan Panda, personal assistant to Manish Agrawal, former district collector of Malkangiri, had gone missing from his office on December 27, 2019. His body was later recovered from Satiguda dam in Malkangiri town and his motorcycle and helmet were found lying near the dam the following day.

Though police had initially registered a suicide case and later an unnatural death case, Panda’s wife Banaja brought murder allegations against the former Collector.

Later, Crime Branch launched an investigation into the case and gave a clean chit to the then Malkangiri collector. The investigating agency made it clear in its report that Panda had died by suicide and Agrawal had no involvement in his death.

Agrawal presently works as deputy secretary of the Planning and Convergence Department.

(Reported by Jitendra Beura, OTV)