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Former Odisha minister arrested in dowry torture case

March 30, 2013 10:28 IST

Former Odisha minister Raghunath Mohanty and his wife were arrested from neighbouring West Bengal in a dowry torture case slapped by their daughter-in-law, police said on Saturday.

"Mohanty and his wife Pritilata Mohanty were arrested from a place in Howrah district of West Bengal by a team of Human Rights Protection Cell of Odisha police," highly placed police sources said in Bhubaneswar.

Acting on 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 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 March 14 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 Naveen Patnaik Minister on March 15 following the dowry torture 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 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.

Mohanty, who has been MLA from Basta for five consecutive terms since 1990, had also moved Orissa High Court seeking quashing of the FIR and also legal protection which were turned down.

Barsa had alleged that she was tortured physically and mentally at the house of Mohanty for dowry. "My father-in-law (Mohanty) was instrumental in torturing me," she has said.

Besides being a long time MLA and a minister, Mohanty was also a vice-president of BJD.

Congress and BJP had been targeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik holding him responsible for the "escape" of Mohanty.

Soon after the arrest of Mohanty and his wife, Dasburma said, "It proves the BJD government never shields anyone. Law has taken its own course. Nobody is above the law in which people should have faith."

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