The damaged table of the judge that bore the brunt of the explosions inside the CBI court in Bhubaneswar on Monday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati
Bhubaneswar, Jan. 27: Panic gripped the judicial complex near Kalpana Square after a goon hurled three crude bombs in the court of a special CBI judge here today.
The two employees present in the court, which had been adjourned for lunch, had a narrow escape. The complex, located opposite BJB College, houses around 20 courts including the court of district and sessions judge, Khurda.
The lawyers present in the complex immediately overpowered the accused, Upendra Mohanty, 63, who threw the bombs in quick succession.
Surprisingly, Mohanty, a native of Bari in Jajpur district, who has spent 30 years in various jails of the country, including Tihar, used to be seen regularly in the judicial complex. He claimed to be an ardent fan of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and had put up a portrait and a statuette of the freedom fighter on the court premises.
Eyewitnesses said that three bombs exploded one after another in the court of the special CBI judge during around 1.30pm.
“It happened almost immediately after the judge left the court. Soon after the judge left, Mohanty rushed into the court and threw the crude bombs. He made no attempt to run away. Instead, he sat in front of the court with a dagger till being overpowered by the advocates,” said a court employee who did not want to be named.
While two bombs exploded on the table in front of the judge’s seat, another went off near his chair. Panic gripped the court complex following the explosion.
“We rushed to the spot as soon as we heard the explosions. We managed to overpower Mohanty and handed him over to the police,” said Silabhadra Shastri, an advocate.
Mohanty, who had reportedly spent nine years in the Tihar Jail in Delhi after being convicted for hurling three bombs at the entrance gate of Supreme Court on October 10, 2000, later told reporters that he was angry as the judiciary had failed to redress his grievances with regard to a property dispute within his family.
“I have been running from pillar to post for justice. I have also written several letters to the judges for but to no avail,” said Mohanty.
Sources said Mohanty had also served a prison term for assaulting a magistrate in December 1990. Before that, he was arrested in January 1980, for assaulting a police officer at the state secretariat.
Surprisingly, despite his past record he had been allowed to stay on the court premises.
“He was so popular in the court premises that he used to keep the keys of some of the offices within the complex. He used to sleep in a verandah of the complex. I have been seeing him here for more than 20 years,” said Bairagi Puhan, a tea vendor at the court complex.
Police said prima-facie evidence suggests that the bombs used by Mohanty were low intensity crude bombs made with potassium nitrate, stone chips and nails. The police said Mohanty himself used to make such crude bombs.
“He will undergo a psychiatric examination to ascertain whether his mental condition is stable,” said police commissioner R.P. Sharma.
The incident has exposed the security gaps at the judicial complex. Though thousands of people visit these courts daily, there is no system in place to screen the visitors. “A metal detector had been installed in 2000, but it has been defunct for over two years now. If a man can hurl bombs inside a court, you can imagine how secure we advocates are,” said senior lawyer Bana Mohanty.
Sharma assured that security at the complex would be beefed up. “Apart from deploying policemen, we will also install a doorframe metal detector on the premises soon,” said the commissioner.