Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar/Rayagada, Jun 3:
With the probe by the Crime Branch of Odisha police into the suicide of Rayagada District Welfare Officer (DWO) Dhaneswar Prusty moving at snail’s pace, it is alleged that the officials are trying to shield those responsible for abetment to the crime as the charge sheet in the case hasn’t been filed even after over 100 days of the incident.
The then Rayagada Collector Dr Sashi Bhushan Padhi was one the two officers who was named in Prusty’s suicide note recovered by the police from the site. Project Administrator (PA), Integrated Tribal Development Authority (ITDA) Gorachand Gamang, the other person named in the suicide note, was transferred for his alleged role in abetting Prusty’s suicide.
Kamini Sahu, the wife of deceased, had alleged that these two officials had misbehaved with her husband on many occasions and had subjected him to mental torture. Unable to bear this, he allegedly committed suicide.
She had followed it up with an FIR lodged with the Rayagada police. But, the police filed only a case of unnatural death and did not invoke the sections of abetment to suicide despite these two officers being named in the suicide note left behind by Prusty.
Even three months after the incident, the Crime Branch probing the case has not filed charge sheet against these two accused.
Notably, Padhi’s alleged inaction in the murder of primary teacher Itishree Pradhan had also come to the fore. However, his connections with ‘Third Floor’ of the state secretariat is said to have saved him from any action. An officer in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), who saved Padhi from action in the Itishree, is also behind the Crime Branch treating him with kid gloves, reliable sources said.
A day after the incident, the Crime Branch had taken over the investigation and had reached the district headquarters town for a probe with scientific team and experts. The cops had seized the suicide note along with some other documents during their search in the presence of SDPO Y Jagannath Rao.
After protests and bandh calls from various political parties, the state government transferred the two officers named.
As per reports, Prusty had reported on duty before last Dussehra vacations. However, the then Collector asked him to join the office after vacations as he allegedly wanted to retain the outgoing DWO Pradyumna Dash in the office.
The Collector is said to have differences with ST & SC Development, Minorities & Backward Classes Welfare Minister Lal Bihari Himirka over appointment of Trinath Rao in place of Dash, who was transferred to Paralakhemundi. Padhi raised objections to Rao’s appointment saying he belonged to Rayagada district after which Prusty was posted as DWO as Rao’s replacement.
From the date of joining as DWO post Dussehra vacation, the officer was allegedly subjected to humiliation. The wife of the officer also approached Padhi at his residence and asked him why was he mistreating him. Despite repeated requests, there was no change in Padhi’s vindictive attitude.
On February 17, Prusty succumbed to mental trauma and committed suicide.
“There are doubts over the suicide note and we are trying to ascertain whether the note was written by Prusty or someone else. For this, the note has been sent to Handwriting Bureau for authentication. As there is only one Handwriting Bureau in the state, the report is getting delayed. Once we get the results, the investigation will progress,” Crime Branch DSP Ramesh Chandra Sethi said.