BHUBANESWAR/BHAWANIPATNA/BALANGIR: Discovery of charred remains of a body, suspected to be that of the lady teacher missing for last 11 days from an under-construction stadium at Mahaling in Kalahandi district, followed by arrest of the fugitive president of the private school where she worked mounted troubles for Minister of State for Home Captain Dibya Shankar Mishra and discomfort for Odisha government on Tuesday.
In a day of twists and turns that left ruling BJD on the backfoot, Gobinda Sahu, key suspect in the mysterious disappearance of teacher Mamita Meher, was arrested from a sugarcane field in Budhipadar village area of Sindhekela under Balangir police station. He had escaped from the barracks of Titlagarh police station on Sunday night leaving the police and government red-faced.
Mamita’s disappearance snowballed into a huge controversy with Minister Mishra finding himself at the centre of the storm. Opposition political parties charged the Minister of shielding the accused. The fact that he was seen many times with Gobinda at various events did not help the matters.
With pressure mounting, Balangir police went after Gobinda and Kalahandi police dug up parts of an under-construction stadium near Government High School at Mahaling where charred remains of a human body were found. Hundreds of people witnessing the digging operation raised slogans against Minister Mishra and Govinda.
While the remains have been sent for DNA testing, police recovered a chain, one anklet and a bag from the spot. Mamita’s family members confirmed that the seized articles belonged to her. “We have sufficient evidence against Gobinda and he is being interrogated. The sequence of events will be ascertained during his questioning,” DIG Northern Range, Deepak Kumar told The New Indian Express.
An excavator driver has been detained besides two to three other persons in the connection. Police said they strongly suspect Gobinda’s involvement behind disappearance of the 24-year-old teacher after examining CCTV footage and the call detail records of both the accused and the victim.
Plot thickens as charred body found, Gobinda arrested
Sources said some locals also informed the police on Monday that they had spotted Gobinda with tyres, and had seen flames in Mahaling Stadium. “Biological remains of the victim will be sent to State Forensic Science Laboratory for DNA testing,” Balangir SP Kusalkar Nitin Dagudu said.
Earlier in the day, Balangir police released posters of Gobinda announcing a reward of Rs 20,000. As soon as the charred remains were exhumed, the cash reward was scaled up to Rs 1 lakh. Hours later, he was apprehended from a sugarcane field in Sindhikela.
Effigy of the Minister was also burnt by Congress and BJP workers separately in Bhawanipatna demanding his ouster and an impartial probe. Govinda, president of managing committee of Sunshine Public School in Mahaling, is also a contractor with a strong political connections. He is also member of the general body of Anchalika Mahavidyalaya, a private aided-college located near the campus of the school under Kegaon police station. Investigation suggested that the college managed to get funding from Western Odisha Development Council and other public funds.
Apart from Mishra, other ministers of the Odisha government such as Law Minister Pratap Jena, Tourism Minister Jyoti Prakash Panigrahy and many political leaders have been seen in events of the two educational institutions.