The prime accused in the case of a 1999 gangrape of the wife of a former Indian Forest Officer, which led to the resignation of then Odisha chief minister JB Patnaik, was arrested from Maharashtra, PTI reported on Monday, quoting the police.
Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Police Commissioner Sudhansu Sarangi said that Bibekananda Biswal alias Biban, one of the three accused in the gangrape case, was arrested from Amby Valley in Lonavala where he was working as a plumber using a fake identity. The accused identified himself as Jalandhar Swain.
Three people – Biswal, Dhirendra Mohanty and Pradeep Sahu – had gangraped the woman on January 9, 1999, according to The Hindu. While Sahu and Mohanty were caught on January 26 of the same year, and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2002, Biswal was absconding for over 22 years. This incident along with the murder of Christian missionary Graham Staines in the same year led to the then Odisha chief minister’s resignation, according to The Hindu.
Sarangi said that the police had launched an operation named “Silent Viper” three months ago to arrest Biswal, The Hindu reported. “He was residing in the Amby Valley project situated between Mumbai and Pune and working as plumber,” Sarangi said. “He had generated all documents such as Aadhaar and a bank account in his new name and had a permanent job. But he did not change his village address.”
Biswal was produced in a Central Bureau of Investigation court on Monday.
In 1999, the woman, a 29-year old had accused the then Advocate General of Odisha, Indrajit Ray, of molesting her in his chamber. The complainant had then gone to visit him with the allegation that her husband was torturing her for dowry, according to the Hindustan Times. Patnaik’s name got involved in the case after he allegedly tried to obtain a bail for Ray, after the woman approached the court.
On January 9, 1999, the three men gangraped the woman at gunpoint. In a First Information Report, the woman accused Patnaik for engineering the incident to intimidate her into withdrawing the case against Ray. Following statewide outrage, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had asked Patnaik to resign.