By Sandeep Sahu
Bhubaneswar: Facts can indeed be stranger than fiction. Bittihotra Mohanty, better known as ‘Bitti’, who has been on the run since November 2006 after jumping parole while serving a 7-year jail term for raping a German student in March that year, has been traced in Pazhayangadi in Kannur district of Kerala where he was working as an assistant manager in the local State Bank of Travancore branch. His father, a former DGP of Odisha, who had been maintaining all along that he had no knowledge of his whereabouts, has gone missing from his residence since the news broke this morning.
While Kerala police are not willing to say anything more than that he was arrested last night on charges of impersonation, it is now reasonably certain that the person arrested by a team led by Kannur SP Rahul R Nair is indeed Bitti Mohanty. Kerala DGP KS Balasubramaniam has said while they suspect that the person arrested is Bitti Mohanty, they are waiting for the Rajasthan police to arrive and identify the man. Bitti, it may be remembered, had jumped parole in November 2006 while serving a 7-year sentence in the Alwar jail for raping a German girl on March 21 that year. He had gone missing ever since then.
Kerala police have informed their Rajasthan counterparts about the arrest and a police team from the latter is expected to seek a production warrant from the Thaliparamba court where Bitti is to be produced in the afternoon after interrogation.
On its part, the Odisha police too are not willing to stick their neck out with DGP Prakash Mishra saying, “We have no information on Bitti’s arrest. We are still waiting for word from Kerala police in this regard.” But top police sources unofficially conceded that the arrest of Bitti has come as a huge relief for Odisha police, which has faced terrible embarrassment after Bitti, son of a former DGP of the state, jumped parole and went missing. There were allegations that Odisha police was shielding Bitti since he was the son of one of their own. “We would have ended up with egg on our face if he had been traced here,” conceded a senior police officer.
Interestingly, Bidya Bhushan Mohanty, Bitti’s father who retired in 2010, too has gone missing from his residence in Sector 9 of CDA in Cuttack since early this morning. His mobile phone has remained switched off since the news about his son’s arrest broke this morning. A caretaker at his house said he had no information on where Mohanty had gone. The senior Mohanty, it may be noted, was suspended and even arrested for a brief while for allegedly conniving in his son jumping parole before being reinstated shortly before his retirement.
Connivance or not, people in Odihsa are amazed at the ease with which Bitti managed to dodge the police for more than six years after coming out of the Alwar jail to see his allegedly ailing mother. They find it even stranger that he assumed the identity of Raghav Rajan, a man from Andhra Pradesh, and managed to get a job as probationary officer in a public sector undertaking and even underwent a six-month long training before joining as assistant manager at the Pazhayagadi.
Had it not been for an anonymous letter which apparently alerted the bank authorities, Bitti would perhaps gone unrecognised for several years more or maybe even retired from his job without anybody identifying. The absconding rape convict reportedly ran out of luck after photographs of rape convicts and accused were splashed by television channels and the on the internet following the nationwide outrage over the Delhi gang rape case in December last year. The question that now needs an answer is: where was Bitti before joining his job in Kerala?
Bitti was arrested by Rajasthan police in March 2006 for raping a 26-year old German student at a hotel in Alwar where they had gone together apparently for ‘holidaying’. In what was a rarity for the generally slow moving Indian justice delivery system, Bitti was convicted of rape and sentenced to 7 years in jail on 12 April, within less than a fortnight of the German girl filing the complaint.
After spending about seven months in jail, Bitti was released from Alwar jail on 20 November, 2006 on a 15-day parole to see his ailing mother in Cuttack and went missing after that.
His father BB Mohanty, then the DGP of Home Guards and Fire Service, who had signed the bond for Rs 50, 000 and stood surety for the return of his son to the Alwar prison in 15 days, was accused of helping his son escape. A Rajasthan team that came in search of Bitti to Odisha went back empty-handed without even getting to meet the senior Mohanty.
Mohanty was suspended on charges of conniving with his son, but was reinstated in May 2009 before retiring from service with full retirement benefits a year later. He has maintained since the beginning that he had no contact with or information on his absconding son, even going to the extent of saying that Bitti could be dead. But his hurried departure from his residence early this morning has raised suspicion that he was constantly in touch with his son.