Instances of influential parents trying to bail out errant children are all too routine but it is not everyday that we hear of parents testifying against their own flesh and blood. Orissa Administrative Service officer Sarat Chandra Mohapatra and his wife voluntarily enlisted themselves as prosecution witnesses and helped convict their son, Alexander Jagannath Mohapatra, in a murder case.
The Balasore district and sessions judge on Tuesday sentenced 20-year-old Alexander to life imprisonment for the murder of Narendra Dalei, who worked as a peon for his father. Alexander assaulted Dalei with a cricket bat and killed him at the official residence of Sarat Chandra — the then sub-collector of Nilgiri sub-division in Balasore — on March 28, 2004. Alexander had been on the run before he was finally arrested in Puri on October 11, 2004.
Public prosecutor Bhabesh Sahu told the Hindustan Times: “Sarat Chandra Mohapatra was produced in court as prosecution witness number one and his wife as witness number two. He told the court that on March 28, 2004, while he was reading an election bulletin, his son came running and divulged that he had killed Dalei and locked the room in which the dead body was lying. He also told the court that Alexander had threatened him with dire consequences if he went against him.”
“The mother told the court that her husband had called her up on March 28, 2004 to tell her that their son had killed the peon,” Sahu added. While father and son were staying in Nilgiri at that time, the mother was with her daughter in Balasore.
According to Sahu, the Mohapatras met Alexander inside the courtroom on April 24, 2006, when the trial commenced. While Sarat Chandra — who refused to provide a lawyer for his son — did not even look at Alexander, his wife spoke to him. “In fact, the mother gave Alexander a new shirt after she found out that he was wearing a torn shirt,” the prosecutor added.
Sarat Chandra, presently posted as a land acquisition officer in Khurda, and his wife were absent when the verdict was read out on Tuesday. They could not be contacted despite several attempts.