BHUBANESWAR: Twenty-two years after the gangrape of the estranged wife of an IFS officer rocked the country and caused a political shakeup in Odisha, almost costing former Chief Minister Janaki Ballabh Patnaik his job, police have finally managed to nab the prime accused Biban alias Bibekananda Biswal.
Biban had been absconding since 1999 and the CBI, which had been entrusted the investigation into the incident by the Orissa High Court had failed to trace him in all these years. He was suspected to have died or murdered.
Even as the case had been put in cold storage for over a decade, the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Commissionerate Police recently reopened the file after getting some leads on Biban. And it launched 'Operation Silent Viper' to track him down.
During the investigation, police came to know Biswal was staying in Maharashtra's Aamby Valley and working there as a plumber. He identified himself as Jalandhar Swain but mentioned his exact permanent address as Naranpur in Odisha. The investigators, however, could not find any resident of Naranpur village named Jalandhar Swain.
“The accused had managed to open a bank account and obtained an Aadhaar card in Maharashtra. He, however, had been in touch with his family members. They even attempted to obtain his death certificate in a bid to permanently close the case against him,” said Police Commissioner Sudhansu Sarangi who was directly monitoring the operation.
A police team left from Cuttack on February 19 and nabbed Biswal with the assistance of Navi Mumbai Police and Pune Police. Police Commissioner Sarangi supervised the operation carried out by a team of select officers including Cuttack DCP Prateek Singh.
On the night of January 9, 1999, Biswal and his two associates Pradip Sahoo alias Padia and Dhirendra Mohanty alias Tunia had spotted the victim and a male friend at a roadside restaurant in Baranga.
The accused had waylaid the duo's car when they were heading towards Bhubaneswar and gang-raped the victim after taking her to an isolated place in Belgachia.
One of the accused then took her to the nearby Bhaluka forest and raped her again. The victim was kept in confinement by the trio for about three to four hours. Mahila police had registered a case on January 10 but after a huge public outcry, the investigation was handed over to the Crime Branch on January 12.
The police later seized the scooter used by the accused and arrested Padia and Tunia on January 26. A court here awarded life imprisonment to both on April 29, 2002. Padia died last year while undergoing treatment in Capital Hospital here.
The woman had also accused then CM JB Patnaik and the former Advocate-General of Odisha Indrajit Ray for their involvement in the incident.