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Student drowns, family cries murder

Father of victim Satya Ranjan Nayak at Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar. Picture by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar, March 21: Family members of the engineering student, who drowned in Deras dam yesterday, alleged he had been murdered.

They also complained against alleged negligence of college authorities.

Authorities of the Chandaka-Dampara sanctuary recovered the body of Satya Ranjan Nayak, 23, a fourth-year electronics and telecommunication student of a private engineering college in Chandrasekharpur.

Nayak had gone to attend the annual programme of another engineering college in Chandaka with four of his friends. From there they went to Deras. Following the post-mortem, the family lodged a complaint with Chandaka police and demanded an inquiry.

Satya Ranjan’s father, Trilochan Nayak, a businessman in Dhenkanal, today said his son did not know how to swim and would never have ventured into the water.

“Besides, we found out that the water level in the dam was chest high and a person would not have drowned in it. There are also injury marks on different parts of his body. We suspect he was killed and then thrown into the dam,” said Trilochan.

A forest staff member informed Satya Ranjan’s local guardian around 5.30pm from the youth’s cell phone. But when Satya Ranjan’s relatives tried to call back, the phone was found switched off. “Forest officials told us that had his friends informed them earlier, Satya Ranjan could have been saved,” said a relative.

The family members alleged that the college authorities should have sent some of their staff to look after the students who had gone to take part in the event held in another college. “The college authorities are guilty of negligence,” said Trilochan.

However, the college authorities said the students had gone to the tech fest on their own. “They had not informed us about it. Satya Ranjan had procured a hall ticket to attend his interview which was scheduled for today,” said Sailesh Narayan Mohanty, administrative officer in charge of the college.

The college authorities also said Satya Ranjan had never complained against anyone to them. His family members agreed. “But suspicious behaviour by his friends and the injuries on his body tell a different tale,” said a relative of Satya Ranjan.

Though bathing in the dam had been strictly prohibited, yesterday’s incident has raised questions about forest officials not taking proper steps to inform tourists.

Divisional forest officer of Chandaka- Damapada sanctuary S.N. Mohapatra said that though they had taken several steps to bar people from entering the water bodies, there had been violations, especially by youngsters. “We will be stricter in future,” said Mohapatra.