Gobinda Sahu, prime accused in woman teacher’s murder, ends life inside Odisha jail

Congress activists hold placard and banners during their protest against Dibya Shankar Mishra’s links with the murder of woman teacher Mamita Meher, in Bhubaneswar. File

Congress activists hold placard and banners during their protest against Dibya Shankar Mishra’s links with the murder of woman teacher Mamita Meher, in Bhubaneswar. File
| Photo Credit: The Hindu

Gobinda Sahu, the prime accused in murder of a woman teacher Mamita Meher, ended his life inside a jail in Odisha’s Balangir district before his production in a local court on December 20.

Mamita Meher was a teacher at Sunshine English Medium School, Mahaling in Kalahandi district. She had gone missing on October 8, 2021 and her body parts were traced beneath the soil on October 19, 2021. She was reportedly strangulated to death by Gobina Sahu, promoter of the school. 

According to police, Sahu had killed Meher in order to prevent her from revealing his extra marital affairs.

The murder had triggered massive political controversy as the Opposition political parties had alleged that Sahu was a close associate of Dibya Shankar Mishra, former Minister of State for Home in the Naveen Patnaik government and accused him of shielding Sahu.

Despite vociferous demands by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress for sacking of Mr. Mishra, Odisha CM had not sacked him. He was subsequently dropped from the Cabinet during normal cabinet reshuffle.

Sahu was alleged to have ended his life inside Kantabanji jail in Balangir district. He was declared dead by doctors. Kantabanji MLA and Congress leader Santosh Singh Saluja alleged that he was said to be under tremendous mental pressure as his bail pleas were rejected by Orissa High Court. Trial of Sahu was continuing in Judicial Magistrate First Class, Kantabanji in Balangir district.

Wife of the deceased alleged that her husband did not commit suicide, but he was killed inside the jail.

Director General of Police Sunil Bansal immediately ordered a crime branch inquiry into alleged suicide by Sahu.  Odisha Human Rights Commission also took suo motu cognisance of the matter by issuing show cause notices to Special Director General Prisons and Superintendent of Police, Balangir. The two authorities were asked to submit their reports in 15 days.

From the beginning of the case, the Opposition had put the State government in the dock. During his questioning, Sahu had managed to give police slip from a police barrack.

Following the controversy, the Orissa High Court had nominated A.B.S. Naidu, a former district judge, to monitor the investigation. The State government had requested Orissa HC to nominate a sitting or retired judge of the High Court or a district and sessions judge to monitor the investigation of Mamita Meher murder case.

Mr. Saluja demanded a probe into the circumstances under which Sahu ended his life inside the jail. BJP Mahila Morcha President Smruti Pattnaik said it sounds bizarre, but accused in high profile murder cases in which Ministers’ involvements were alleged, were dying under mysterious circumstances.

Prafulla Biswal, an accused in murder of Kulamani Baral, a BJP leader and his associate, was found dead in mysterious circumstances at Nuabadal Chhak in Tangi Area of Cuttack in 2021. In the murder, role of former State Law Minister Pratap Jena was also probed.

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