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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Names have power, said American author Rick Riordan. Going by the adage, the name Arun Bothra has so far emphatically displayed that power of conviction. Even, literally speaking, this IPS officer was given the mantle of CEO of a power utility (CESU), when the utility was bleeding red.

Besides, donning the cop hat, Bothra had also been the horse power behind Odisha Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC) and Capital Region Urban Transport (Mo Bus). Given the juggling of many hats, in bureaucratic and political circles, Bothra is well known as CM Naveen Patnaik’s man of all seasons. It’s CM’s trust that saw Bothra again being sent on Nayagarh Mission, to investigate the kidnapping and murder of 5-year old Nayagarh girl nicknamed ‘Pari’.

Why Bothra is Naveen’s Trump Card?

A peek at Bothra’s 2-decades long career, be it as SP in Malkangiri or Angul (both LWE hit areas) or as IGP (Police modernisation), reveals him as a conventional IPS officer. A copy book style cop. But his former colleagues remember him as an investigator with a penchant for details and easy mannerism. However, his traits belie his ‘iron’ fist approach towards crime and criminals.

CM Naveen Patnaik appointed Bothra as CEO of power utility and transport department, exactly, for the three aforementioned traits, which, Mr Bothra had incidentally proved in cracking the Patnagarh (Bolangir) parcel bomb case. Working on simple clues like the language and writing style, he cracked the case that had hit a dead end. And he became a ‘star cop’ overnight. Because, he had solved the State’s first such crime: where a parcel was used as a target killing device. In fact, Arun Bothra had been chosen to head the SIT on Patnagarh case by the virtue of being IG (EOW, Investigation) then.

This super cop hails from the western Indian state of Rajasthan, the land known for valour and palaces. After completing his graduation from Sri Ganganagar college, he cracked the UPSC exams to join the Indian Police Service (IPS) of Odisha cadre in 1996. Needless to say, Odisha became Bothra’s ‘Karambhoomi’ thereafter.

This celebrated cop’s life canvas shows hues of a social worker, when one takes glance at his NGO ‘India Cares’. He hogged the national headlines in lockdown times, when responding to a SOS by a desperate mother, Bothra arranged camel milk for her thalassemic son.

He once said, “I had my social account since 2009. But realised the gravity, during handling of the twitter handle of Odisha police. I love replying and attending to people’s grievances, because my motto is to give a smile to every lip.”

Needless to say Bothra’s crisis management skills again made him a sought after for CM Naveen Patnaik to expect a reversal of political tides on the face of the increasing public and opposition heat faced by the government over the Pari murder case. Naveen wants the magical wand of Bothra could spell a miracle this time too given the faith Bothra reposes in the masses, coupled with his excellent communication skills and rapport with the media.

However, testing time lies ahead for both Naveen and Bothra in the Nayagarh Mission. For Bothra the road ahead has been made bumpy by his fellow cops in Nayagarh, who sat over the murder investigation for too long, thereby allowing many trails to dry up . Given this background, the question remains to be answered is whether Bothra will be able to bail out CM Naveen Patnaik from this crisis this time too? Well, time is the keyword here.

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