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Murder of Judo Coach: Clue to Police-Criminal-Bureaucracy Nexus in Orissa

"If Biranchi informed police about the illegal deportation of scraps, how people in the trade could know who the informer was?...what made or lured a senior Bureaucrat of the state agree to meet a gangster without any information to police and security measures? It seems more possible that the IAS officer had some earlier connection with the gangster."

HNF Editorial : April 19, 2008

Murder of Bhubaneswar (Orissa) based Indian Judo coach Biranchi Das has shaken the Bhubaneswar-Cuttack twin city police administration and the state bureaucracy. The incident has not only confirmed growing gangster activities in the city but has brought to light the hand of powerful bureaucracy and the possibility of a police-criminal nexus that works as a safe umbrella for the gangsters.

Murder of Biranchi Das at his own Judo Training Hall was really shocking because the hall is located in the campus of Culture Directorate and Orissa State Museum in a busy location. The main road is known as the Puri Bus Stand where at least two-three police constables are always on duty. And at the other side of the road is the SDJM court. Of course, it was Maha Bishuva Sankranti and, thus, a holiday. But still the place was crowded when the incident occurred. The assassins were on helmet and there was a power cut, nobody could see the faces to identify.

As per the Judo hall students who were present then, Biranchi told ‘no Raja, no, please…’ just before he was shot. On basis of this statement given by students and Sushanta – the younger brother of Biranchi, Police believed that gangster Sandip Acharya alias Raja would have murdered Biranchi Das. But the question was what would be the reasons behind the murder?

The incident of Biranchi’s murder came after a series of complaints lodged by some artists and professionals working in Orissa Television Industry against Raja Acharya for kidnapping and giving threat calls. A model and music video artist Leslie Tripathy first lodged a complaint against gangster Raja Acharya for giving her threat calls and abusing on telephone. A case of kidnapping and another of threatening to kill has also been reported against Raja Acharya in different police stations of the city. So, initially, police insisted upon Biranchi’s relationship with Model Music Video Artist Leslie Tripathy as the reason because, on many occasions, gangster Raja Acharya forced Leslie to act as his fiancée.

And, it is believed that Raja proposed Biranchi to convince the model in this regard. But Biranchi denied acting to the wish of the gangster. Even though the model and her family members repeatedly refuted to this claim telling that Leslie was unnecessarily dragged in the case, police investigation revolved around this clue.

But, soon, some more facts were revealed. Biranchi knew about the illegal scrap deportation business run with a close involvement of local gangsters. Biranchi gave the information to about illegal deportation of railway scraps worth 45 lakhs to the police, which were virtually seized but again released by a sub-inspector of local police station on bribe money.

This reason seemed more logical and stronger than the first one. As the scrap business was a multi-crore business that poured lakhs of rupees into the pockets of the gangsters, the informer would obviously be the first enemy of people involved in it.

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Raja Acharya has either a stake in the illegal deportation or his influence over the business was at stake as the local gangsters help in passing the scrap-load trucks out of their respective areas or territories.

But even if Biranchi informed police about the illegal deportation of scraps, how people in the trade could know who the informer was? This point raised many questions about the credential and efficiency of Bhubaneswar Police and the new Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Police Commissionerate. While replying to a similar question made by the journalists, Commissioner of Police Binay Kumar Behera admitted the possibility of strong gangster sources in the police department while he assured that strong action would be initiated against the officers who are in the nexus.

General public is now more worried on this fact. If police is working with the gangsters whom they will approach for safety? If the name of a responsible citizen who gives vital information to police can easily be passed to the culprits, will people rely on the police? And, is it the reality of Bhubaneswar Police that claims itself to be the peoples’ police?

Although there has been a major revamp in the twin city police official level, the total has to work more effectively and efficiently to regain the faith of people.

What has come as a second shock to public is the name of senior IAS Priyabrata Pattnaik taken by the prime associate Chagala as the people behind Raja's various operations in the state. This has revealed the possibility of bureaucracy link in organising crime. Later, during interrogation by Bhubaneswar Police Commissioner, IAS Offcer Priyabrata Pattnaik admitted about meeting gangster Raja Acharya only once at the Judo hall where the murder took place.

Now the question is what made or lured a senior Bureaucrat of the state agree to meet a gangster without any police information or security measures? It seems more possible that the IAS officer had some earlier connection with the gangster.

All these revelations have tarnished the image of Naveen Pattnaik government that claims itself to be transparent and corruption free. Although Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik has declared to initiate an impartial enquiry into nexus aspect, nothing has yet started to make people believe that government is doing something in this regard.

A series of incidents like involvement of Doctors of the state in female foeticide, large-scale corruption in the world bank funded health system development project, a speaker of Orissa Assembly charged by a lady martial of sexual harassment, and the recent nexus have opened up some hidden pages of Naveen Pattnaik government.

Somehow after 23 days of the incident, Raja is nabbed in Goa. This incident has provided a reason of relief to Orissa police. But again there is an apprehension that Raja may name some more big shots in Bureaucracy and Police department as controllers of the killing game.



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