Mrunal Manmay Dash

Even as the mystery surrounding the death of Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra still remains unsolved, a police team quizzed Bidyabharati, widow of the late Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF), for over four hours at the former’s residence in Mayurbhanj on Tuesday.

As per the reports, a team of four policemen from Paralakhemundi arrived at the Kaptipada Police Station in Mayurbhanj on Tuesday morning before leaving for Udala, the hometown of Bidyabharati, where they subjected her to marathon questioning that lasted for about four hours.

The police also quizzed the family members of Bidyabharati including the driver who drove her from Paralakhemundi to Udala on the night of Soumya’s death.

Speaking to the media, the IIC of Paralakhemundi Police Station, Bibekananda Swain said, “We have asked her many questions relevant to the investigation. I cannot divulge the questions that we asked her now. I can elaborate only after the probe is over.”

It is pertinent to mention here that this is the second time the police went to Bidyabharati’s residence for investigation into the sensational death which has created ripples across the State with the late officer’s bereaved family suspecting murder.

Earlier last week, the Bharat Vikas Parishad, a social organisation had moved the Orissa High Court seeking probe into the mysterious death of the Odisha Forest Service (OFS) officer by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).The Union Home Secretary, State Chief Secretary, State Home Secretary, State Director General of Police (DGP) as well as the Gajapati SP and Paralakhemundi Police Station IIC have been made respondents in the petition.

32-year-old Soumyaranjan who got married in December 2020, had suffered 90 per cent burns at his official residence in Parlakhemundi and succumbed during treatment at a private hospital in Cuttack on July 13.

The post-mortem report, accessed by OTV, stated that the death of the officer had occurred due to burn injuries involving about 95 percent of his body surface area.

Earlier, the Gajapati Superintendent of Police (SP), while dismissing allegations of suspected involvement of the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) in the death- as alleged by Soumya’s family, had sought to give a ‘clean chit’ to the superior officer. However, the SP’s statement has failed to convince Soumya’s family and social activists who have demanded a thorough and independent probe to unravel the several unanswered questions pertaining to the events and circumstances leading to the ‘accidental death’ of the ACF.