March 10, 2013 1:20:26 am
Seven years after Bitihotra Mohanti alias Bitti jumped parole following conviction in the rape of a German national in Rajasthan,he was arrested from Kannur in Kerala on Friday night,bringing to an end one of the longest hunts for a fugitive in the country.
The son of former Orissa DGP B B Mohanti,Bitti had been sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment by a fast-track court for the rape of a 26-year-old German student in Alwar in 2006 in one of the fastest rape trials in the country but jumped parole soon after.
Since June 2012,Mohanti,29,has been posted in State Bank of Travancores Madai branch in Kannur district as a probationary officer,under the name Raghav Rajan. SBT is an associate bank of SBI,and in the records,Rajan is the son of Rajeev Rajan of Ananthapur in Andhra Pradesh.
Deputy Superintendent of Police D Sudarshan,who is investigating the case,said the police are prima facie convinced that Rajan is Mohanti. He has also confessed to it, Sudarshan said. Another officer said a scar that was recorded by the Rajasthan jail where Mohanti was lodged as an identification mark had been found on him. Police said he was planning to flee Kerala when he was caught.
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We have informed the Rajasthan Police about his arrest and a team from there is expected, Sudarshan said. A local court on Saturday remanded Mohanti to judicial custody till February 23. He has been charged under IPC sections dealing with cheating and forgery.
Biju George Joseph,Jaipur Additional Commissioner of Police,said: A team of four policemen will leave for Kannur Sunday.
Mohantis cover was blown after an anonymous letter written in English reached SBT headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram earlier this week saying that employee Rajan working in their Madai branch was actually the fugitive rape convict.
SBT Chief Manager (public relations) Ranji Thomas said,We looked into his original application form to verify his details. He had given two persons from Andhra Pradesh as reference. One of them told us that he was only a caretaker of the building where Rajan lived. Another said he had no direct contact with the person and had agreed to his name being used as reference on the request of a friend.
The suspicious bank approached the Kerala DGP who,in turn,referred the matter to the district police in Kannur.
Sudarshan said that they had come to the bank on Friday to arrest Mohanti,but he didnt turn up. By evening,he was taken into custody. According to the police,Mohanti had stayed away from the bank after coming to know about the letter. He had managed to obtain a copy of the letter that reached his bank branch and spoiled it, said Sudarshan,hinting that they would look into the possibility of bank officials helping him.
The owner of the house where Mohanti stayed,provided by the bank,has told the police he had seen him leave on Thursday evening with a bag. He stayed in the house with a deputy bank manager,named Abhishek,who incidentally left the town on Friday on leave.
According to Sudarshan,while on the run,Mohanti had done his MBA from Chinmaya Institute of Technology in Kannur,starting the course in 2007. After the two-year course,he had worked as faculty in a management institute in Kannur and at an e-learning institute in Kollam in South Kerala,but both for a few months.
He had also obtained a passport issued by the regional passport office in Kozhikode.
A search of his room reportedly did not reveal much. Police said Mohanti,who uses three mobile phones,earlier stayed at lodges in Kannur and nearby areas. We are looking into whether he got any local support, said Sudarshan.
Chinmaya Institute of Technology Director Dr Falgunan said the man they knew as Rajan had been a brilliant student who cleared MAT (Management Aptitude Test) with high scores. He also remembers Mohantis father having come to give a declaration at the time of admission. I cant say whether it was his father or not, Dr Falugnan said.
SBT Chief Manager Thomas said Mohanti had been recruited by the SBI through its Central Recrutment Board. Associate banks intimate the number of vacancies,and the SBI conducts the test,interviews the selected applicants and makes the allotment. They verify the address of the applicant,cross-check other details including the certificates that an applicant produces. What we had done in the case of Mohanti is just cross-check the copies of his certificates,which the SBI had provided,with the original ones he produced at the time of joining the bank.
According to Thomas,in all the documents he provided,Mohanti was recorded as Rajan with his Ananthapur address.
He admitted that while they had initiated the mandatory police verification process,they hadnt waited for it to appoint Mohanti as probationary officer. The police report is normally delayed even up to a year. We cannot delay the appointment for want of a police report. If the report comes with adverse remarks,action can be taken against a probationary, Thomas said.
He admitted that it was a matter of concern that a person with suspected forged identity had got the banking job through a detailed recruitment process. A joint probe by the SBT and SBI is likely,Thomas said.
Mohantis father had come under cloud following the inability of the authorities to trace him,and had himself gone missing for a while. He was suspended from his post of additional DGP,but later reinstated. B B Mohanti,however,claimed all along that he had no contact with Bitti. I dont know if he is alive or dead. I am no longer interested in him as he did not even contact me while I was in jail, he had told this correspondent in 2009.
The former ADGP and his family now keep a low profile,avoiding public appearances such as marriage functions and public gatherings or lunches at the local IPS mess.
On Saturday,as news came that the hunt for Bitti may finally be over,there was no activity at the house in Cuttack where his family moved to after B B Mohantis retirement. Attempts to reach the former police officer met no success.
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