SIT For Nayagarh Minor Girl’s Murder Probe, Spotlight On Team Leader Arun Bothra, Yet Again

Bhubaneswar: The heinous kidnap and murder of a minor girl of Jadupur in Nayagarh district is rocking the Odisha Capital with opposition parties demanding the resignation of Nayagarh MLA and Minister Arun Sahoo for ‘shielding’ the accused and justice for the victim as well.

The matter came to light after the minor girl’s parents attempted to self-immolate themselves in front of the State Assembly on Tuesday demanding justice for their five-year-old daughter. The couple alleged police inaction and that their daughter was killed by one Babuli Nayak who is politically connected and is being protected by Minister Arun Sahoo. The incident has sparked massive public outrage.

Taking cognizance of the gravity of this matter, first, the case was handed over to the Crime Branch and later Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik directed setting up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the alleged kidnap and murder.

The State Government Saturday through a letter addressed to the Registrar General of the Orissa High Court requested him to place before the Chief Justice, the government’s request for monitoring of the SIT by a sitting judge while informing the formation of the five-member SIT to be headed by senior IPS officer Arun Bothra, and four other officers of the Crime Branch.

Bothra has earned a distinction in terms of solving puzzling criminal cases in the past.

Taking into account his track record in cracking blind cases, Bothra was one among the right candidates chosen to head the SIT for investigating this sensitive case.

The Patnagarh parcel bomb blast case and the Astaranga quadruple murder case are the two most puzzling cases that Bothra, a journalist-turned-policeman has solved among the many other difficult cases.

Patnagarh Parcel Bomb Case

In the Patnagarh parcel bomb blast case Soumya Sekhar Sahu, a 26-year-old software engineer, had been killed and his 22-year-old wife Reema seriously injured when he opened a parcel addressed to him, five days after their marriage in February 2018.

Sahu’s 85-year-old great aunt was also killed in the explosion. Initially, the police were clueless about who could have sent the deadly wedding gift since the deceased’s family had no known enemies.

For over a month Patnagarh police questioned more than 100 people, scoured through thousands of mobile phone records, scanned laptops and phones belonging to the couple, their social media accounts etc.

Investigators had looked into a threatening call the victim had received after his engagement, and found out it was from a young man known to his then-fiancée who had blamed her for ditching him and getting engaged to a richer boy.

Police had picked up the man and questioned him. But found that it was a silly threat on the phone.

It drew up a list of dozen possible suspects but there were no firm leads and nothing was moving.

Over public outcry and demand for a probe by the CBI, the government handed over the case to the Crime Branch. Bothra was the Crime Branch chief.

It was an anonymous letter that the Bolangir SP received, a scanned copy of which was later sent to Bothra on WhatsApp that came as a turning point in the investigation.

Bothra has claimed to have read the letter over a hundred times which revealed a lot of things.

He sent a copy of the letter to deceased Soumya Sekhar’s mother who after reading it several times could mark from the writing style and choice of words that it was similar to that of a colleague who taught English at the college where she worked as the principal.

It was Punji Lal Meher, the English lecturer who was called for questioning, and finally, after rigorous grilling, he confessed to the crime.

Astaranga Quadruple Murder Case

In the Astaranga quadruple murder case of September 22, 2015, one Dinabandhu Mallick, his wife Nirmala, and their two minor daughters of Dinadiha village were found brutally murdered.

The Crime Branch took charge of the investigation from local police the next day and formed a special investigation team to nab the accused.

Investigation revealed that Fakir, brother-in-law of Nirmala, came in contact with Himadri during their journey on a train to Goa and befriended him. Himadri used to frequently visit the house of Fakir. Later, Fakir introduced Himadri to Dinabandhu and his family members. Himadri then developed intimacy with the family.

Fakir, the prime accused in the case, chalked out a plan with Himadri and Aisha to eliminate Dinabandhu for money. According to the plan, Himadri and Aisha visited the house of Dinabandhu on September 21, 2015, and stayed at the latter’s place in the night.

Later in the night, the couple murdered Dinabandhu, his wife, and two minor daughters.

During the course of the investigation, it was found that the culprits, after committing the murders, had taken away valuable articles and ornaments from Dinabandhu’s house.

They had also disposed of some of the valuables in a neighbouring State.
Later in October, the Crime Branch team arrested Himadri and Aisha from Hailakhandi in Assam. The couple confessed to their crime. The cops also recovered the stolen gold ornaments, motorcycle, and cash from the couple.

Bothra who was Crime Branch IG then had supervised this case.

During the course of the investigation, the Crime Branch team seized a sweetmeat packet and tracked down the shop from where it was purchased. The shopkeeper gave a vital lead about the three accused.

Further, one of the accused sustained minor injuries while murdering Dinabandhu’s family and used a hand towel to wipe his blood. The towel proved to be a piece of crucial circumstantial evidence for DNA matching.

Will Bothra Crack Nayagarh Minor’s Murder Case

Will Bothra be able to nab the culprit in the Nayagarh minor girl murder case is a million-dollar question.

The aforementioned two cases had no political element in them but this case is different, Bothra has several odds against which he has to work to crack the case as the prime suspect being named by the parents of the victim is the husband of a former Zilla Parishad member. Also that he is allegedly being shielded by Minister Arun Sahoo.

The silver lining amid the dark clouds is that the government has proposed the Orissa High Court to monitor the SIT probe.

A five-year-old girl, daughter of an auto-rickshaw driver had reportedly gone missing while playing near her house at Jadupur village in Nayagarh district on July 14.

Later, her skeletal remains stuffed in a gunny bag were recovered from the backyard of her house nine days later.

Her parents have alleged that their daughter was killed for her organs by prime suspect Babuli Nayak and his accomplices.

They have further alleged that Nayak is the kingpin of a child lifting racket and is involved in the human organs trade.