The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Orissa cop reaches Dhanbad to trace missing trader

Dhanbad/Orissa, June 3: Even as family members of abducted Keonjhar (Orissa) businessman Rashmiranjan Mohapatra complained of police “inaction” in the matter, an officer from Orissa today reached Dhanbad to investigate Mohapatra’s abandoned Toyota Innova, which was found on the Dhanbad railway station premises.

The Orissa businessman, who went to Kendrapara on personal business, has been missing since May 27 and the car was found on May 28.

Meanwhile, with the discovery of the vehicle, Dhanbad Government Rail Police (GRP), along with two state police teams from Dhanbad (Jharkhand) and Bhubaneswar (Orissa), have started a joint inter-state operation to nab the abductors.

It was the abandoned car’s blood-stained seats and the Orissa number plate that aroused Dhanbad police’s suspicion.

The superintendent of rail police, Shashinath Jha, contacted the Bhubaneswar superintendent of police (SP) and deputy inspector-general (DIG) crime.

Mohapatra went to Kendrapara to meet his brother-in-law’s prospective bride and family and to buy marble. He was driving the car and had called home from his mobile phone at 10 pm on May 27.

The day after the family received a ransom call of Rs 2 crore. It was then Mohapatra’s eldest brother Pradip Barik lodged an FIR with the Shahidnagar police station. Rashmiranjan Mohapatra is youngest of three brothers. He is married and has a two-year-old daughter.

Meanwhile, family members said due to persistent demands the ransom was “reduced” to Rs 60 lakh, from Rs 2 crore. However, the kidnappers have asked the ransom payment be dropped at Varanasi.

So far the two states’ police have lain their hands on two links — a phone call from Kujur in Jharkhand and a call from a public booth near Dhanbad railway station area. The Kujur call made on May 28 from the Airtel number of the victim was on last Friday (June 1) night, sources in the GRP said.

“If his car had moved out of the state and was found parked on the Dhanbad railway station premises what sort of blockades did the state police set up'” asked a relative of the Mohapatra family on condition of anonymity.

Mohapatra’s relatives suspect that Rashmiranjan has been hidden somewhere in Orissa itself, while associates of the gang continue to make calls from outside the state to divert attention.

But, they add that the state police are making little efforts to trace the associates.

“When they call, the kidnappers talk in a Hindi with a Bihar accent. And they want the ransom to be delivered in Varanasi. May be the police should look into these clues. And why don’t they let us talk to Rashmi'” a family member asked.

Khurda SP Amitabh Thakur said they are tracking the calls and hope to get some leads soon. “But it’s true that no one has spoken to the hostage after the day of kidnap,” he added.

Thakur said a team has been sent to Dhanbad to examine the car which reportedly has bloodstains on its seats and pursue leads there.

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