Manas murder mastermind Sarmistha held

BHUBANESWAR: Police on Monday arrested Sarmistha Rout, prime accused in the sensational Manas Swain murder along with her associate Jhuna Bhoi from Nalanga area in Bhadrak district.

Both were produced in Chandbali JMFC Court in the evening. The Crime Branch which is investigating the case applied for a 10-day remand of all seven accused but the court granted remand for five days starting Tuesday. 

Sources said the two accused were traveling in a bus from Kolkata when Crime Branch and Bhadrak Police officers intercepted them. Sarmistha and Jhuna were whisked away to Tihidi police limits for interrogation.

The duo reportedly revealed that they traveled to Guwahati and Kolkata to evade arrest but had to spend nights in railway stations as they ran out of money. Sources add that they possibly had decided to give themselves up before the court but were nabbed by cops while proceeding towards Chandbali. 

Sarmistha, editor of Bhubaneswar-based web-channel Sampurna, had appeared before Bhadrak Police on two occasions last month but was not apprehended due to ‘insufficient’ evidence against her. Once Orissa High Court rejected her bail plea, she absconded. 

Manas worked as a cameraman with Sarmistha’s web channel for about six months but quit the job in January after a fall-out with her. The cameraman was kidnapped from Bhadrak district on February 7 and brought to Dayal Ashram, a shelter home for elderly persons run by Sarmistha in the Capital where he was brutally thrashed and left for dead. 

So far, the police have arrested eight persons including Niranjan Sethi, former Director (Technical) of the Information and Public Relations Department, for their alleged involvement in the murder case. 

The retired officer was allegedly aware and part of all the planning related to the kidnapping of Manas and disposing of his body after he succumbed. The case assumed significance over the existence of a microchip containing sensitive materials allegedly related to influential persons. Manas apparently was in possession of the microchip.