A day after former Odisha Information Service (OIS) officer Niranjan Sethi was arrested in connection with the kidnapping and murder of cameraman Manas Swain, the deceased’s wife on Tuesday accused two cabinet ministers of being involved in the killing. While one minister said that the law of the land will take its course, the other remained mum over the deceased’s wife Yamuna’s allegation.
She alleged that her husband was in the possession of a memory chip that allegedly has video recordings of “illegal acts” of ministers. Yamuna’s statement came after a photograph of the two ministers along with Sharmishta Rout, the prime accused and owner of a web channel who is absconding since the murder, came to the fore.
Yamuna alleged that Rout was desperate to get hold of the memory chip. “They murdered Manas out of fear of getting exposed,” she said.
She demanded that the contents of the chip be made public and all the accused arrested. “If no steps are taken, I will take my life in front of the CM’s residence,” she said.
Sethi had called Rout as many as 30 times a day when she was absconding, police said. He is now cooling his heels at Bhadrak sub-jail. He can be brought on remand for further investigation only after the arrest of the prime accused, Bhadrak SP C S Meena said.
Opposition Congress and BJP alleged that the two ministers named by the slain cameraman’s wife were also involved in the kidnapping and murder of a 24-year-old woman teacher in Kalahandi district and also the double murder at Mahanga in Cuttack district. The police has formed separate teams to nab Rout, who is on the run since the killing of the cameraman.
Rout’s bother was arrested during the day from Vijayawada in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. Raids were also conducted to nab Rout, Bhadrak ASP Jatin Panda said. The Orissa High Court had last week refused to grant anticipatory bail to Rout. Justice S K Sahoo on March 16 had disposed of her anticipatory bail plea when police informed the court that the kidnapping case has now become a murder case and Rout is the prime accused.
The police also informed the court that a total of three people, including the retired OIS officer, have been arrested so far and a manhunt has been launched to nab Rout. The case being that of a murder, the high court, while not inclining to give the anticipatory bail, observed that if the petitioner surrenders within four weeks and moves for bail, the lower court shall dispose of the bail application as expeditiously as possible in accordance with law.
Twenty-eight-year-old Manas Swain went missing from Bhadrak on February 7 and his body was found in Nayagarh district on March 12. On the same day, three people were arrested from Nayagarh, who confessed before the police that they murdered Swain at the behest of Rout. Rout had on March 13 approached the high court for advance bail, which was registered on March 14 and heard on March 15.
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