Odisha ACF’s Death: Crime Branch Crosschecks Witnesses’ Statements With Local Police

Paralakhemundi: After three days of interrogation of 12 persons in connection with the death of Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra, the Crime Branch on Thursday began crosschecking the statement of the witnesses recorded by the local police earlier.

According to Crime Branch DSP Gyana Ranjan Mishra, if there will be a mismatch between the statements of the witnesses recorded by the local police and those given to the Crime Branch, they will be interrogated again.

During the interrogation of 12 persons since August 16, the Crime Branch came to know the mode of investigation by the local police after Santosh Biswal, the watchman in the office of the DFO, on Wednesday said district collector Lingaraj Panda had come to the official residence of DFO Sangram Keshari Behera at 8 pm on July 12, an hour before the death of the ACF at his official residence.

As the IIC of Paralakhemundi Town police station Bibekananda Swain, who was also the investigating officer (IO), has not mentioned this in his report, the Crime Branch is most likely to interrogate him.

Also Read: Odisha ACF’s Death: Crime Branch Grills 3 Doctors Of Gajapati DHH; Mother Questions ‘Dying Declaration’

Reliable sources said the Crime Branch is most likely to interrogate the DFO and the IIC on Friday.

The Crime Branch has also taken note of the silence of the Gajapati Collector who is yet to give his statement on his presence in the official residence of the DFO.

The collector has not been available to the media after the statement of the watchman to the Crime Branch was reported. He was not even present during the visit of School and Mass Education minister Samir Ranjan Dash on Thursday.

Also Read: Odisha ACF Death Case: Gajapati Collector Was Present On Night Of Incident, Says Watchman

During the interrogation on Wednesday, three doctors – District Medical Officer (DMO) Dr Pramod Kumar Panda and Dr Kishore Chandra Behera and Dr Abhilash Panda of the district headquarters hospital (DHH) – had told the Crime Branch that the ACF at the time of admission to the hospital was unconscious. However, he regained consciousness after he was given the saline.

Replying to a question as to why the ACF was kept at the hospital, where there was no facility for treatment for burn injuries, for two and a half hours, the three doctors had said they discharged him after making him ‘stable’.

However, they did not say anything to the media when asked why the ACF was referred to Cuttack instead of Visakhapatnam which is nearer to Paralakhemundi and has the facilities for treatment of burn injuries. They also remained tight-lipped to a question on whose recommendation the ACF was referred to Cuttack.

Also Read: Odisha ACF’s Death: Did Local Police Ignore Crucial Angles In Probe?

The Crime Branch had also an hour-long interrogation of the local tehsildar-cum-executive magistrate Achyutanand Jani in his office chamber in the afternoon regarding the dying declaration of the ACF. However, the tehsildar refused to reveal to the media about the questions the Crime Branch asked him.

Notably, Tulasi Mohapatra, mother of the deceased ACF, while speaking to the media on Wednesday had expressed doubts over the dying declaration of her son. “My son had a stammering problem since childhood. Besides, when I saw the body of my son at the Ashwini Hospital in Cuttack, I found that a portion of his tongue had been removed. In such circumstances, how could he give the dying declaration?” she wondered.

The Crime Branch DSP hinted that as the names of other people have come up during the three-day interrogation of 12 persons, they will be brought under the purview of their investigation.

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