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Morning arson at IAS officer’s house

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 9: Unidentified goons ransacked the government quarters of an IAS officer near Master Canteen Square early this morning. The arsonists set some furniture, household articles and documents on fire.

Their target, the house of Sangram Keshari Mishra, principal secretary and officer on special duty, Board of Revenue, Cuttack, is located on Mahatma Gandhi Marg near the state Assembly. No one was in the house at the time of the incident, which may have taken place early today.

The area falls in a high security zone because of its proximity to the Assembly and secretariat. Cops patrol this locality round-the-clock, as it is prone to agitations and demonstrations. At present, two agitating groups are sitting on dharna on the opposite side of the road from Mishra’s quarters.

Mishra, who has been residing in a rented accommodation in Forest Park for the past year, apparently because his government accommodation had Vaastu issues, said that around 7am, his security guard called and informed him about the incident. Security guard Keshab Rout was sleeping in the domestic help’s quarters when he heard someone banging on the garage door.

“It was around 4am when I heard the sound. I shouted from my room and when I came out I saw five people jumping over the boundary wall. When I rushed inside the quarters, I was shocked to see smoke coming out of the house and some goods and documents on fire. I tried to douse the flames,” said Rout, who was posted there about a year ago.

Rout lodged a complaint with the Kharvela Nagar police who registered a case under several sections of the Indian Penal Code.

The IAS officer said it seemed it was not a case of theft. The fact that they set fire to some documents points to some other motive.

Mishra said the crime might have been committed at the prompting of someone who had a grudge against him. He said that in 2004, he had lodged a case against a person with Laxmi Sagar police following a case of road rage, but the police did not arrest that person. However, he refused to divulge the name of the person. Sources said Mishra had enmity with other officers, who might be involved in the case.

Mishra had been allotted these quarters in 2007. He said he had stayed there for nearly four years before moving to his rented accommodation last year. He had been using it as an office and visited it frequently.

He suspected that this house had a Vaastu problem, as one of his predecessors who had been allotted that house had an unnatural death. “I developed problems in my eyes. Following this, my family members insisted on moving house. Though I have applied for another quarters, the general administration department officials have not provided me with alternative accommodation,” said the IAS officer.

The Kharvela Nagar police said following the complaint, they had started an investigation. “We have detained the security guard and are questioning and some local goons. We have launched a manhunt to arrest the accused,” said inspector in-charge of Kharavela Nagar police station Manoj Samant.