Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Berhampur, Mar 17:
While arrest of former Sanakhemundi legislator Ramesh Jena is seen as a move to neutralise him ahead of the panchayat elections scheduled next year, Odisha police today slapped one more case against the Ganjam strongman based on a complaint of extortion.
Berhampur Town Police today registered a case against Ramesh Jena, his father Arakhita, nephew Pradeep Swain and Berhampur Municipal Corporation (BMC) Corporator Murali Mohan based on a complaint by a liquor trader from Chhatrapur who alleged that they were collecting extortion money from him on a monthly basis.
While Ramesh, Arakhita and Mohan were arrested earlier, Pradeep was today arrested and forwaded to court.
“Today we got a complaint that Ramesh was extorting the liquor traders here. Based on the complaint from a Chhatrapur-based liquor trader, we arrested Pradeep Swain today. While Ramesh, Arakhita and Mohan were arrested earlier, Pradeep was arrested today. We would move the court to seek remand of Ramesh, Arakhita and Mohan for further interrogation into the matter,” Berhampur SP Sarthak Sarangi said.
Elaborating further, Sarangi said: “Ramesh used to collect 20%-40% of the profit from the liquor traders in the city. In case of any opposition, he used to threaten them of dire consequences. He had engaged his nephew Pradeep and Mohan in this extortion business. Ramesh used to collect nearly Rs 3 lakh a month from liquor traders.”
The top cop said that the investigating team which had left for Visakhapatnam yesterday to collect more information on Jena’s gutka business there has gathered much vital information.
“Police have traced a house and a car belonging to Jena. He used to harbour criminals who sneak into the neighbouring state to evade arrest. Besides, one Venkat Patra has been detained for questioning who allegedly helped Jena in running business,” he added.
In a related development, Berhampur police today appealed to the Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM) court to take Santosh Behera, a dacoit arrested recently who is said to be a close aide of Jena, on a seven-day remand.