PEO Death Case: Why Demolish ‘Rangasala’ In Odisha’s Jajpur In Haste?

Jajpur: The Jajpur district administration on Friday initiated the process for demolition of guesthouse ‘Rangasala’, where village level worker (VLW) and in-charge panchayat executive officer (PEO) of Haridaspur Smitarani Biswal was found hanging on October 16.

On the direction of the Executive Magistrate, Dharmasala, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC were clamped at the guesthouse this morning. It was also sealed and electricity connection disconnected.

Rupesh Bhadra, who was arrested on October 19 on charges of abetting suicide of Smitarani, owns the guesthouse. He is husband of Haridaspur sarpanch Madhusmita Bhadra.

On Thursday, Jajpur Collector Ranjan Das ordered demolition of the structure on the ground that it was raised on a government land. He, however, said suggestions have been sought on the proposed demolition of the guesthouse from Jajpur SP Charan Singh Meena since investigation into the case was on.

Will razing the guesthouse not destroy the evidence? More so with questions being raised on the police investigation and the husband of the deceased crying foul over the incident.

Lop-Sided Investigation?

The BJP had slammed the police, accusing them of crafting a triangular love story to settle the matter and indulging in character assassination of the deceased.

On October 19, former DGP and senior BJP leader Prakash Mishra said circumstantial evidence hinted at murder after rape. “If she committed suicide, what were the circumstances that drove her to take the extreme step. A fact-finding team of BJP had visited the spot and discussed with family members and others. It is learnt she was being pressurised to add false beneficiaries under rural housing scheme,” alleged Mishra.

Mishra further said there was no coherence in the statements of all those associated with her or present at the guesthouse. There were some red spots on her legs and a ring was also missing. These facts were not initially mentioned in the inquest report and added after Biswal’s family raised these doubts, he alleged.

On October 23, BJP state vice president Samir Mohanty alleged that the SP was trying to suppress the case. “The district administration, district police and the state government have failed to arrest all other accused even seven days after the incident.”

He further alleged that police did not bother to interrogate two BJD Samiti members, a BJD Zilla Parishad member and an official of RAMCO cement company who were present in the guesthouse at the time of the incident.

Mohanty questioned as to who were using the special room in the guesthouse.

Husband Cries ‘Murder’

Smitarani’s husband Sushil Biswal has also submitted a memorandum to the Odisha Human Rights Commission, demanding re-investigation of the case. He accused Jajpur police of distorting evidence and shielding the accused. “Despite repeated requests, Jajpur police didn’t allow me to the room where they were claiming that my wife committed suicide. Even postmortem was intentionally delayed. I believe my wife has been murdered,” he said.

To substantiate his claim, he said his wife had told him that the sarpanch and her husband were pressurising her to do illegal works. Besides re-investigation of the case, he demanded a high-level inquiry into all the block-level works sanctioned and done by the sarpanch and his husband.


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