Pradeep Pattanayak

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) caught Dr Rajendra Narayan Panigrahi, an officer of the Port Health Organisation (PHO), Paradip, red-handed while accepting bribes from crew members of a shipping company named Eminence Shipping Agencies. Subsequently, the CBI sleuths carried out raids at several places linked to Dr Panigrahi. 

According to a source, the PHO is functioning under the Central government. And Dr Panigrahi is working as the officer of the PHO. The PHO’s main function among others is to provide COVID  clearance certificates to those coming from other countries. 

As per the allegations, Dr Panigrahi was demanding a bribe of Rs 1500 to 2000 from each crew member to give them the said certificate.

Yesterday, he demanded over Rs 1 lakh from 70 crew members of the Eminence Shipping Agencies. It was when the crew members were giving him Rs 50,000 that the CBI officials caught him red-handed. 

Following this, the officials carried out raids at his ancestral house in Balasore, his residence in Cuttack, his office in Paradip, his quarters at J B Colony and his rented house in the Housing Colony. The raids started at 4 pm yesterday and are still continuing, it was learnt. 

The officials have so far detected his moveable and immovable assets amounting to over Rs 1 crore. They have also seized huge amount of dollars, imported liquors and cigarettes, hard discs and other important documents. While a ten-member has been interrogating Dr Panigrahi, other officials are carrying out raids. 

It has been alleged that Dr Panigrahi had been collecting money from the crew members since the outbreak of COVID-19. Yesterday while being shifted from one location to another, some crew members going to vent their ire, misbehaved with Dr Panigrahi. 

However, the total value of his moveable and immovable assets is yet to be ascertained as the raids are still underway.

As per the latest information, Dr Panigrahi was taken to Bhubaneswar and after marathon interrogations and raids, the central investigation agency arrested him. 

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