Odisha rape: Meeting in jail, bank transfers led police to accused

AN UNEXPECTED encounter inside a jail, an important mistake noticed in data, an elaborate three-month intelligence operation in an Odisha village, suspicious financial institution transfers — and a last-minute escape bid.

These are the important thing turning factors on the path that led a police group from Bhubaneswar to Lonavala in Maharashtra final weekend and eventually to the prime accused in a rape case that had rocked Odisha in 1999 and led to the resignation of then Chief Minister J B Patnaik.

On Monday, Odisha Police formally recorded the arrest of Bibekananda Biswal alias Biban, 50, in Bhubaneswar after bringing him from Aamby Valley the place he was working as a plumber incomes Rs 17,000 a month and holding an Aadhaar card within the identify of “Jalandhar Swain”.

“He was identified as Biban by multiple sources, including his family. Following identification, Biban was formally arrested and handed over to the CBI for further investigation,” stated Dr Sudhanshu Sarangi, Police Commissioner, Bhubaneshwar-Cuttack.

But not and not using a few last-minute jitters, stated an officer in Lonavala. At the employees’ barracks in Aamby Valley, Biban tried to mislead a joint police group, together with officers from Maharashtra, by claiming that he didn’t have a cellphone, and pointed to the mistaken mattress fearing a search — when cornered, he even tried to flee. “He was immediately apprehended again,” stated the officer.

For almost 22 years, there had been no leads within the case — the gangrape of an IFS officer’s estranged spouse in Cuttack’s Baranga — after the CBI took over the investigation in 1999 following orders from the Orissa High Court. But simply three months in the past, the Bhubaneswar Police Commissionerate reopened the case following a “chance meeting” between Sarangi and a co-accused at Choudwar jail in Cuttack.

Sarangi had visited the jail final November as a part of a probe into an armed dacoity of Rs 12 crore from IIFL, a number one non-banking finance firm. “I wanted to show the inmates some pictures of the accused in the dacoity case from a CCTV camera. That was when I came across one of the co-accused in the 1999 rape case, Dhirendra Mohanty. The jailer informed me that he was one of the oldest inmates, serving a life term. When we looked at the case file, we learnt that the main accused was still absconding,” Sarangi stated.

That was the start of Operation Silent Viper, led by Sarangi and involving three different officers: Deputy Commissioner of Police, Cuttack; Special Squad Inspector, Cuttack; and Inspector In-charge, Baranga police station.

The case was significantly delicate, police sources stated, due to the affect it had on the state’s politics on the time. The sufferer had accused Patnaik and former advocate normal Indrajit Ray of getting performed a task within the incident to intimidate her. Two years earlier, in July 1997, she had accused Ray of trying to molest her and the Chief Minister of protecting him. In 2000, a CBI court docket sentenced Ray to 3 years rigrous imprisonment, charging him with tried rape.

In the Baranga case, two of the accused, Mohanty and Pradip Sahu, had been arrested 17 days after the incident whereas Biban managed to flee. In February final yr, Sahu died whereas present process therapy for chest ache at a Bhubaneswar hospital.

“In all the case documents, Biban was referred to as ‘VK’. But while interacting with Dhirendra during our meeting in jail, he informed us that it was actually ‘BK’ for Baranga King,” Sarangi stated.

That was the primary break. The subsequent step, an officer stated, was to mobilise a community in Baranga, the realm the place Biban hails from, and collect data discreetly about his household. “We suspected that the family could have been in touch with him,” one other officer stated.

Soon, the police got here to know that Biban’s spouse was attempting to promote a chunk of land that belonged to him and had utilized for a loss of life certificates to facilitate the sale. And, a better take a look at the household’s funds led them to consider that they’d entry to a different supply of earnings.

“Biban has a wife and two sons, with the elder son married. We learnt that none of the sons had a regular source of income or job and yet, there was a constant flow of financial support. This strengthened our suspicion that the family was in touch with Biban,” Sarangi stated.

The group then zeroed in on the household’s financial institution particulars and located money transfers of quantities starting from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000 to the account of Biban’s elder son.

“We activated a network in Pune to learn more about Swain. As per his Aadhaar card, he was a native of Naranpur village in Baranga, which is where Biban’s home is located. It identified his father’s name as ‘P Swain’, and the initial matched the name of Biban’s father, Purnanda Biswal. Finally, we confirmed that there was no person named Jalandhar Swain in the village,” an officer stated.

On Friday, a three-member group from Odisha reached Mumbai, and a joint coordination assembly was held on the regional workplace of Pune Rural police in Lonavala. “We provided them local support and information,” stated DySP Lonavala, Navneet Kanwat.

Dressed in plainclothes, the joint group reached Aamby Valley on Saturday, and located the identify “Jalandhar Swain” after a three-hour search of worker data. They took the assistance of one other employee from Odisha to find the barracks the place they discovered Biban and began questioning him.

“We said it was a routine procedure and asked for his phone. He said he did not have one. When we asked him to point to his bed, he pointed to the wrong one where we found a phone that was not working. Then, we asked another employee to call his number and found the phone ringing from another bed. We brought him to a company office around evening. While the team was preparing to leave, he tried to run out of the room,” stated an officer.

Workers on the website described Biban as a “secretive person” who “avoided being photographed” and “changed his appearance at least twice”. “Once he grew his hair and kept a beard. Another time, he kept short hair and was clean-shaven,” stated a employee.

Supervisors stated employees from Odisha began coming to the location in teams about 10-12 years in the past. “He (Biban) used to work earlier on general maintenance jobs. He took up plumbing around six years ago,” stated a employee.

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