BHUBANESWAR/RAYAGADA:With the Opposition gunning for the heads of Rayagada Collector and Project Administrator of Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) over the suicide of District Welfare Officer Dhaneswar Prusty, the Odisha Government on Wednesday handed over investigation of the case to the Crime Branch.
Prusty was found hanging in his office on Tuesday even as his wife Kamini Sahu alleged that her husband faced harassment at the hands of Collector Sashi Bhushan Padhi and PA, ITDA, Gorachand Gamang.
While the Opposition attacked the Government on the issue on floor of the Assembly, the latter decided to turn over the case to the Crime Branch after police found a suicide note of Prusty in which he had pointed fingers at the Collector and PA, ITDA.
“Since the allegations are against the Collector and ITDA chief, we decided to ask the Crime Branch to investigate into the death to bring out the underlying reasons which may have forced the DWO to take the extreme step. This way, we can expect a fair and independent probe,” Director-General of Police Sanjiv Marik told this paper.
The 58-year-old DWO, earlier posted as Special officer of ITDA in Sundargarh, was transferred to Rayagada in October last. On Monday, he was shifted again to Koraput as Special Officer of ITDA.
Prusty’s wife Kamini Sahu alleged that her husband was under tremendous pressure ever since he joined in Rayagada as DWO. “Both Padhi and Gamang often misbehaved with my husband,” she said. Kamini had also met the Rayagada Collector over the matter but to no avail. A case against the Collector and PA, ITDA has been lodged with Rayagada police station.
However, what put the Government in a tight spot is the recovery of a suicide note from Prusty’s house on Tuesday evening. The DWO is reported to have blamed Padhi and Gamang for his death.
Meanwhile, a two-member forensic team, led by Rabindra Kumar Patra, from Koraput, reached Rayagada on Wednesday and visited the DWO’s house at Goutam Nagar and office at the PHD Road.
Rayagada SP Siva Subramani said the police seized several documents relating to the case, including the suicide note. While all case-related documents would be handed over to the CB, the suicide note has been sent to to State Forensic Science Laboratory, Bhubaneswar to confirm his handwriting, he added.
The incident has put the Rayagada district administration in a corner since Padhi was also the Collector of the district when Itishree Pradhan, a teacher of Tikri Upper Primary School, was set on fire last year and the incident triggered a State-wide outrage. The Collector has been under scanner since Itishree had alleged that her representations over harassment at the hands of Inspector of Schools Netrananda Dandasena went unheeded by the former.
Besides, the prime accused in the teacher’s murder is yet to be traced. The case has been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation following a Supreme Court order.
With DWO’s suicide issue snowballing into a controversy, the District Congress Committee gheraoed Rayagada Police Station. It also handed over a memorandum to the Rayagada SP demanding stringent action against the Collector and PA, ITDA.
At the behest of the ruling party, the two have encouraged corruption in the district, the memorandum said.