Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Salepur, Sep 18:
The Judicial Magistrate First Class (JFMC) court here today allowed Odisha police to take Rabindra Patra alias Rabi Patra, one of the accused in connection with the murder of a youth in Rameswar Ashram, on a two-day remand.
Police had prayed for taking Rabi Patra on a three-day remand for interrogation. Patra had absconded after committing the crime and was later arrested by the police.
It may be noted that the self-proclaimed godman Anand Atma Baba of Rameswar Ashram was arrested on September 13 following the discovery of a half-burnt body, later identified as that of a local youth named Ashok Patra, from his ashram on September 12.
In a complete volte face on September 16, Cuttack (Rural) SP Gurudas Kundu told reporters that the arrested self-styled godman Anand Atma Baba was “innocent” and Ashok Patra had been hacked to death by mistake by his own associates.
“Rabi Patra, Padani Sahu, Madan Sahu and Chandramani Rout alias Tulu had accompanied Ashok Patra to the ashram on September 12 afternoon. The visitors had an altercation with the Baba following which an incensed Chandramani attacked the latter with a billhook. However, it missed the target and hit Ashok on his neck after which he fell unconscious on the ground. Presuming him to be dead, Rabi Patra rushed to fetch ghee kept in the ashram for yagna purposes. They poured ghee on Ashok and set him ablaze to destroy the evidence. Soon after the incident, the Baba surrendered before the local police outpost,” Cuttack (Rural) SP Gurudas Kundu had told reporters in a press conference held on Wednesday.
Signifcantly, on the first day of investigation, Kundu had unamiguously said that Anand Atma Baba alias Alok Bisoi was the prime accused in the murder of the youth whose charred body was found from the premises of the ashram.
“The Baba and his two nephews are involved in the killing of the youth. They poured ghee on the body after killing him and set him ablaze,” Gurudas Kundu had said after his arrest on September 13.
But three days later, the SP did a complete tur-around and exonerated the Baba of the murder charge.
“It came out during interrogation in remand of the Baba that he was not involved in the murder. As there are many other allegations against him, he has been sent to jail as per the provisions of the law,” Kundu said on Wednesday.
While a blood-stained billhook and a lathi were seized from the ashram purportedly used in the murder of the deceased on the first day of investigation, another blood-smeared billhook wrapped in a bag was allegedly found on Wednesday from near the entrance of the ashram.
The conflicting statement of the SP on Wednesday raised question marks over the police role and the fairness of the investigation into the case.
The Baba is currently lodged in the Salepur sub jail.