BERHAMPUR: Amid the political outrage over alleged links of BJD leaders with a gemstone smuggler, Rayagada police on Thursday arrested two more persons on charges of supplying the semi-precious stones and arranging buyers.
Radha Mohan Mahana, one of the two, is a block grant school teacher and hails from adjoining Boudh district. The other, Subash Ratnallu is from Rayagada. On November 7, the Special Task Force (STF) of Crime Branch had arrested ganja and gemstone smuggler Jitendra Behera. His car loaded with two gunny bags of illegally procured gemstones worth over crores of rupees was seized.
During investigation into Behera’s illegal trade network, police nabbed Mahana and Ratnallu.Addressing mediapersons, Rayagada SP Saravana Vivek M said during interrogation, the duo admitted to its involvement in gemstone smuggling. They are being questioned to elicit more information about the illegal trade.
Mahana and Ratnallu have close links with prime accused Behera and the three of them ran the racket. Ratnallu procured gemstones from illegal mines operating in Takiguda area and sold these to Behera. Mahana also has direct links with the main accused, police said. Meanwhile, political situation in Rayagada is on the boil after photographs of BJD leaders including a Minister and MLAs with Behera surfaced on social media.
Earlier, district units of Congress, BJP and BSP had demanded resignation of ST/SC Development, Minorities and Backward Classes Minister Jagannath Saraka over his link with the gemstone smuggler.
Besides, action has also been sought against Rajya Sabha Member Bhaskar Rao, former MP Jhina Hikaka, Gunupur MLA Raghunath Gamang and Rayagada BJD president Sudhir Das whose photographs with Behera have gone viral on social media.