Attack on minister: 70-yr-old held

Attack on minister: 70-yr-old held

The police in the Odisha temple town of Puri late on Saturday night arrested a 70-year-old woman believed to be the mastermind of the recent attack on Law and Tourism Minister Maheswar Mohanty.

Sradhamani Mohapatra was produced before a local court who sent her to judicial custody for fourteen days after rejecting her bail plea. She was arrested on the basis of confessional statements made by five accused in the case who were taken into police custody on Saturday morning.

According to police sources, Saradhamani is the mother of Puri Jagannath temple priest and a ruling BJD leader Bhagaban Mohapatra alias Guna Singhari who was murdered in the town in August, 2012. The family and associates of Singhari who was also an elected councilor of Puri Municipality had suspected the role of Mohanty in the crime.

The police which investigated the 2012 murder had never found Mohanty’s link to the case though it had managed to nab the principal accused in the crime who turned out to be a close aide of the senior minister. 

He was recently granted bail by the Supreme Court and the family members of the murdered Puri priest were suspecting the senior minister’s hand in this too.

Police sources said, Sradhamani who was waiting for an opportunity to take revenge for her son’s killing hired five local youths, all former associates of her son, to eliminate the minister and allegedly promised to pay them Rs 15 lakh. She reportedly had given Rs 50,000 as advance to purchase the weapons used in the attack on Mohanty who was shot at by gunmen near his residence in Puri on February 21.

Earlier on Saturday, the police arrested all the five accused in the case including four who were nabbed from outside the state with the help of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka police. Two country made pistols and ten round of live bullets had been recovered from them. The police have also seized a jeep and a bike used in the attack on the senior minister who is still recovering at a Bhubaneswar hospital. 

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