Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 23:
The main accused in Patrapada shootout Raju Barik had deep links with the entertainment industry in Odisha where he got a foothold singing devotional songs.
Beyond the crime, what continues to stir the public is the reason for the transformation of an artist into a gangster.
Raju was not only a singer but also a music director. While he sang some of the widely popular songs in Odia such as ‘Lo chanda munhi, Jauchhi daru khoji munhi’ and ‘Paibaku ichha jebe jhianka thikana’, he also composed the music for albums such as ‘Akhi Khoje Jagannatha’ and ‘Aare mo Kalamanika’ recently.
His musical talent drew him closer to the members of Odia filmdom. He was closely associated with many in the Odia film fraternity starting from veteran Ajit Dash to new generation actor Debasish. He also had excellent relations with eminent sculptor Padma Vibhusan Raghunath Mohapatra.
Having made it in the world of music, Raju turned his focus to politics. During his student career, he had successfully contested for the Dramatic Secretary of Ekamra College. Later, he joined the Congress and was mentored by Suresh Routray. A few years later, he jumped the ship to BJD but returned to the Congress fold after a short stint in the ruling party. His political connections were good as evident from his photographs with top leaders of both BJD and Congress like city Mayor Anant Narayan Jena, MLA Priyadarshi Mishra, PCC President Prasad Harichandan and former minister Suresh Routray.
While his time in politics got him the links with the crime world, his son, suffering from bone cancer, got him into a tight spot financially pushing him to earn more money by hook or crook.
A good organizer already, it was no mean task for him to form his own gang. The high rate of growth of real estate prices in the suburbs of Bhubaneswar provided him with a ready-made opportunity to earn a fast buck. Running the gang from the shadows, Raju made a fortune from material supply contracts to projects and extortion but never got caught in the act. Minor allegations were sorted out of police station.
Things, however, started falling apart when other players entered the market and his monopoly in his area of operation near Khandagiri was challenged. It inevitably led to gang war and the gang war led to the shootout and the death of Dillip, which sealed his fate.
The singer-turned-mafia don, however, continues to prove too smart for Commissionerate Police to get hold of and is still on the run since the murder of contractor Dillip Nayak.
The cops, on the other hand, say they are using some innovative methods to trace him, but are unwilling to share them with the press. “Political patronage is not an issue,” assured Police Commissioner Rajendra Sharma refuting charges that police was unable to lay its hands on Barik because of his political links during an interaction with newsmen in Bhubaneswar today.