Cops zero in on Odisha lecturer as mastermind of bomb masked as wedding gift
Police said the slain groom’s mother had replaced the prime suspect as principal of a college.india Updated: Apr 25, 2018 00:00 IST
Odisha police on Tuesday named an English lecturer as the mastermind of a parcel bomb, wrapped as a wedding gift, which killed a newly-wed software engineer, his great-aunt and maimed the bride two months ago.
State director general of police RP Sharma said Punjilal Meher, lecturer in a private college in western Odisha’s Bolangir district, and several others carried out the crime that devastated the family barely five days after the wedding.
The bomb, sent by courier from Chhattisgarh capital Raipur, exploded when Soumya Sekhar Sahu, 26, opened the parcel at his family home in Bolangir’s Patnagarh town on February 23. The explosion killed him and his great-aunt Jemamani Sahu, 85. The newly-wed bride, Reema, 22, suffered extensive injuries in the explosion and was admitted to hospital for more than a month.
The state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) took over the probe from local police in March.
“Our investigations led us to Meher, who is a lecturer at Jyoti Vikas College in Bolangir’s Bhainsa town. He was the principal of the college earlier, but Soumya’s mother, Sanjukta Sahu, replaced him in May last year,” said a CID officer investigating the case.
“We found that he had repeatedly tried to harass and undermine Sanjukta Sahu. One such harassment, allegedly at his behest, was vulgar slogans being painted on the college wall in her name after she took over as the principal,” added the officer, who did not want to be named.
Meher’s wife, Soudamini, said her husband was innocent and alleged that the CID was framing him. “He will never commit such a crime. It is a conspiracy against my husband by the CID because they could not catch the actual culprit,” she said.
Santosh Upadhyay, additional director general of the CID, said Meher has been detained. “He will be arrested soon along with a few other people,” Upadhyay added.
The CID has detained six more people in the case: Shiv Shaw, lecturer in another college in Bolangir; Dilip Das, the owner of Skyking Courier, which sent the fatal parcel, and courier boy Sushant Seth who delivered it; Umesh Matari, Chandramani Meher and Baibhasuta Bindhani. Investigators said Bindhani is an accused in another murder case.
Incidentally, Meher had attended Soumya and Reema’s wedding reception, and his funeral rituals. The CID believes he did it to avoid suspicion.
During investigations, the CID found that the sender of the gift had communicated with the courier firm in Hindi and Odia. The parcel bomb, wrapped in an Odia newspaper, reached Patnagarh on February 20, but was delivered three days later.
Soumya, who had joined a Japanese electronics firm in Bengaluru a few months before his wedding, and his great-aunt died in hospital shortly after the explosion. A crude bomb was used in the crime, according to the CID.
Reema, who sustained injuries all over her body, was discharged from hospital on April 12. She told the media that those responsible for her plight must be hanged. “They have ruined so many lives. They deserve to die.”