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Pradeep Pattanayak

The Commissionerate Police on Thursday claimed to have busted a racket involved in the illegal trade of antique Hanuman coins and arrested four persons for their involvement. 

The four accused persons have been identified as Bhakta Hari Mohapatra from Bhadrak district, Toshiba Nanda Gochhayat from Balasore district, Pradeep Kumar Behera from Cuttcak district and Bibekananda Mahali from Kendrapara district. While the first trio was arrested for kidnapping Mahali, the latter was arrested for cheating them. 

Later in the day, all the four accused were produced in a court for remand.  

According to the police, Mohapatra, Gochhayat and Behera had kidnapped Mahali, a resident of Patkura area in Kendrapara district, from Cuttack three days ago. They then took him to a lodge in Bharatpur area. They also shot a video of them stripping Mahali down to underwear and beating him up mercilessly. 

Thereafter, the trio sent the video to Mahali’s family members, demanding a specific ransom amount for his release. Without losing time, Mahali’s family members approached the Tamando police with a complaint on Wednesday. 

The police then swung into action and raided the lodge. Mahali was rescued. 

However, during the course of investigation, the police managed to bare the kidnapping plot and found Mahali’s involvement in the crime. Police learnt that Mahali was into trading Hanuman coins which was the reason behind his kidnapping. 

Sources privy to the investigation of the case said that Mahali had taken Rs3,50,000 from the trio, promising them to give a Hanuman coin. Later, he kept avoiding them. To settle scores, the trio eventually kidnapped Mahali and demanded the ransom from his wife to get back their money. 

Police sources said in February alone, as many as 28 kidnapping cases were registered at different police stations under the Commissionerate Police. While a maximum of four cases were registered at the Mancheswar police station, Dhauli, Khandagiri and Sahid Nagar police stations had registered three cases each. 

Notably, with an objective to deal with kidnapping cases effectively, the Commissionerate Police had set up a Kidnapping and Man Missing Cell in May 2021 and the cell is still functioning.

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