Sharmili Mallick

Bhubaneswar: Following the arrest of Biban Biswal, prime accused in the 1999 Anjana Mishra gang rape case on Monday, Twin City Police Commissioner Sudhandu Sarangi divulged the intricate details of the closely guarded operation, code named 'Silent Viper' which was launched to hound the elusive accused down from his hideout in the idyllic Amby Valley hill resorts in Maharashtra after a gap of over two decades.

Speaking exclusively to OTV Sarangi said it was a tough and challenging mission for his boys once a faint trail of the accused emerged while running through the old case papers wherein one acronym 'BK' drew his attention.

"I had met one of the accused Dhirendra Mohanty in Choudwar jail some three months back. When I asked him about Biban Biswal (the third and prime accused in the case) he said he was unaware of his whereabouts. I came back and discussed the matter with some officers," said Sarangi.

Sarangi added, "When I started going through the old files, I realised Biban was the main accused in the case and the other two (Dhirendra and Padia Sahu) were his mere associates who had helped him in the crime. Later, we came to know that he was referred to as BK. The acronym stands for ' Barang King' as Biban was called by his associates," he added.

"In the process, we realised that the person (Biban) was a known criminal of his area at that point of time. We were convinced that he would never end ties with his hometown. Therefore, we decided to reopen the case and launched operation 'Silent Viper' to go on his trail," said Sarangi.

The nomenclature of the Ops Code, Sarangi said, was based on the poisonous reptile-like characteristics of the accused. "I likened the accused to a venomous Viper who was silently hibernating somewhere. That's how 'Silent Viper' came up. I then took a vow that we would hound him to hell if situation demands," he said of his resolve.

As the operation gathered steam, the sleuths learnt that Biban would often send money to his family and even visit his village- Naranpur in Barang area occasionally.

Meanwhile, another lead cropped up when the police came across a name-- Jalandhar Swain of Naranpur. The name rang a bell.

"We checked the bank details and other transactions against that name. It became clear that no person by the name Jalandhar exists in the village," he said.

This was enough for the seasoned detectives to smell the proverbial rat. " From the information collated through our informers we confirmed that actually Biban was using the assumed name to send money to his family."

The information was good enough to launch the final phase of the operation involving the arduous task of tracing the elusive 'Jalandhar,' from the face of the earth.

Meanwhile, Sarangi said, Biban's sons made a unwitting mistake that came as a shot in the arms of the sleuths.

"Biban's sons were trying to apply for a death certificate in the name of Jalandhar Swain which gave us a major lead. We made coordinated efforts in the well oiled mission track down Biban. The operation culminated when the Commissionerate Police team busted the hideout of Jalandhar Swain aka Biban Biswal in a pre-dawn swoop at Amby Valley. He was swiftly arrested and brought to Bhubaneswar on Monday morning, Sarangi said.

"The then Orissa High Court Justice A S Naidu (a member of the two-judge bench which heard the Anjana Mishra gang rape case) had earlier come down heavily on the investigation agency on its failure in arresting the main accused. Finding Biban was a burden on me and the department as well. Moreover, I felt if a criminal like Baban would go scot free after committing such heinous offence, it will serve as an inducement for wannabe criminals and other anti-social elements," said Sarangi.

Meanwhile, Sarangi thanked the Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner Bipin Kumar Singh for the latter's cooperation in nabbing the accused. "He (Singh) provided us a team which helped in identifying Biban who had assumed the identity of Jalandhar and was working for a company which consisted of 14,000 employees in the city," informed Sarangi.

"He (Biban) will remain behind bars from now on and we hope he gets life term for his crime. We have enough evidence against Biban," said Sarangi adding, "the evidence will be shared with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which is investigating the case."