Bhubaneswar: Former Orissa minister Raghunath Mohanty and his wife were arrested from West Bengal in a dowry torture case filed by their daughter-in-law, police said on Saturday.
“Mohanty and his wife Pritilata were arrested from a place in Howrah district of West Bengal by a team of human rights protection cell (HRPC) of Orissa police,” highly placed police officials said in Bhubaneswar.
Acting on a specific information, a “crack” team of HRPC was sent to West Bengal which caught the Mohanty couple from Shalimar in Howrah district this morning, they said, adding that further details were awaited.
The arrest came a fortnight after their daughter-in-law Barsa Swony Choudhury filed an FIR at Balasore Town police station on 14 March accusing the then law and urban development minister and four family members, including her husband of physically and mentally torturing her for dowry.
While Mohanty had to resign from chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s ministry on 15 March following the case, his son Raja Shree Mohanty was arrested near Cuttack and sent to jail.
Besides the Mohanty couple and their son, the FIR also named their daughter Rupashree and son-in-law Suvendu Madhual, police sources said, adding Barsa in her FIR alleged that Mohanty’s family tortured her demanding among other things Rs.25 lakh and a luxury vehicle. She also accused her husband of having extra-marital relations.
After resigning as minister, Mohanty as well as his family members remained incommunicado. As the issue triggered a major controversy in the state and rocked the assembly amid demands for the arrest of the former minister, ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leaders, who initially described the case as a family affair, subsequently appealed to Mohanty to surrender.
Unable to persuade Mohanty to surrender, ruling BJD on Friday issued a veiled threat asking him to respect law or face consequences.
“Through media, I will like to request Raghunath Mohanty to cooperate with the law before the matter gets further complicated,” government deputy whip Sanjay Dasburma told reporters on Friday
As Mohanty was on the run, BJD chief whip Pravat Tripathy had also appealed the ex-minister to surrender four days ago.Tripathy had also said Mohanty should surrender immediately in the interest of BJD.