Extortion racket busted

Berhampur: A racket involving collection of extortion money by a dreaded criminal, lodged in special sub-jail at Bhanjanagar in Odisha’s Ganjam district, has been busted, the police said today.

This came to light on Sunday when the police arrested three persons, including two teenaged Plus II students, who allegedly were doing the groundwork outside the prison for undertrial prisoner Siba Jena, police said.

The police registered a case against Jena, an accused in a murder case. He allegedly made extortion calls to a fisheries officer of Bhanjanagar.

In December last year, the fisheries officer received a threatening call from Jena, demanding Rs 10,000. He recorded the call and lodged an FIR.

“We tracked the mobile phone calls and arrested the trio, who were working for the jail inmate,” said Inspector In-Charge (IIC) of Bhanjanagar police station, A K Sahu.

During interrogation, police came to know that the inmate was also extorting money from some forest officials through his aides. But the officials are yet to lodge any complaint with police, Sahu said.

The incident put a question mark on security in the sub-jail and exposed prisoners’ access to mobile phones.

“We regularly check the prison and belongings of inmates. We did not find any cellphone during raids,” said superintendent-cum-jailer Upendra Mohapatra.

The special sub-jail houses 280 inmates against its capacity of 260. Several dreaded criminals and Maoists are lodged in the prison, sources said.

The sub-jail was in the news when an UTP was shot dead by his co-inmates near the prison gate in February, 2013.

After committing the murder, they escaped from the jail. The deceased, Kalia Swain, 35, was a double murder accused, jail sources said.