Ramakanta Biswas

A team of Odisha Crime Branch, probing the sensational death case of Paralakhemundi assistant conservator of forest (ACF) Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra, on Friday questioned Mamata Panda, the OIC of Gurandi police station.

The woman police officer, whom the deceased ACF’s family accused of being involved in the case, was questioned for about three hours. 

Panda, a distant relative of the deceased’s wife Bidya Bharati Panda, was allegedly present at the Paralakhemundi hospital where Soumya Ranjan was initially admitted after sustaining grievous burn injuries. 

She was also accused of halting an ambulance in which critically-injured Soumya Ranjan was being rushed to a hospital in Cuttack for further treatment for a long time.    

Speaking to media persons following the questioning, Mamata Panda said, “I have answered all questions asked to me.”

However, she refused to answer and walked away when asked about the accusations of the family members of the deceased forest officer.  

Meanwhile, DSP Gyana Ranjan Mishra of the Crime Branch which is investigating the case, said, “Today, we summoned Mamata Panda and questioned her about the case. She fully cooperated during the questioning.”

“As per my investigation, Bidya Bharati Panda had gone to Mamata’s quarters to bring some items as she had to accompany her injured husband to Cuttack. As she is a distant relative of Bidya Bharati, she had gone to the hospital on humanitarian grounds,” Mishra said.

Ranjan Mohapatra, brother of deceased ACF said, “From the beginning, we are saying that Mamata Panda was involved and influenced the case. Like Bidya Bharati Panda, she too is a culprit.”

“We have been living under mental trauma for the past one and a half months following the death of my brother. If police itself is involved in crime, who will give us justice,” he questioned. 

It is worth mentioning 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. 

The Crime Branch which took over the investigation last week has so far questioned many people related to the case including two colleagues of the deceased, three doctors from Paralakhemundi hospital, a watchman, a gardener, an ambulance driver and his associate, among others.