Former IRTS official held for cheating

Sowmya Ranjan Mahapatra, accused of duping two businessman of over Rs.1.32 crore, was detained by immigration authorities at Chennai airport when he flew in from Singapore

An Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) officer dismissed from service, Sowmya Ranjan Mahapatra, accused of duping two businessman of over Rs.1.32 crore, was arrested by the city police on Monday.

He had been operating from Singapore for the past few months.

As a lookout notice was pending against Soumya Ranjan Mohapatra, 55, a former IRTS Official, he was detained at the Chennai airport when he landed there from Singapore on Saturday. According to Tukaramgate inspector B Sudarshan Reddy, Mohapatra was dismissed from government service in 2009 for indulging in malpractices while he was posted in Hubli in 2004.  The Tukaramgate police of Hyderabad took him into custody from the airport authorities. He was brought to city and remanded in judicial custody after being presented in a local court.

Mahapatra worked with the South Central Railway (SCR), Secunderabad, for some time in 2004 before being transferred to the South West Central Railway at Hubli. Following allegations about misconduct and corruption, he was removed from service there.  Prior to his posting in Hubli, Mohapatra had worked in Secunderabad for several years and even owns a house at Teacher’s Colony of Tukaramgate. After losing the job, Mohapatra wooed several of his contacts in the city to invest in his newly-launched Singapore-based iron ore export business.

“Since he worked in a top position in railways in Secunderabad, he came in contact with many businessmen. Dropping names of some IAS and IPS officers, he used to claim that he was well-connected with people in powerful positions,” Tukaramgate Inspector B. Sudarshan Reddy said.  He lured two businessmen, Narsaraju of Saidabad, and Venugopal of Gandhinagar, to join his business leading them to believe that he was into iron ore trade and that they can make huge money in a short span.

According to the police, he had collected Rs.70 lakh and Rs.62 lakh from Narsaraju and Venugopal, respectively.

However, as Mohapatra did not even commence business operations, Narsaraju began pressurizing him to return the money in 2012. Subsequently, Mohapatra gave some post-dated cheques for Rs.10 lakh and issued promissory notes to Narsaraju. In February 2013, two of Mohapatra’s associates, Ibrahim and his son Yasin from Banjara Hills, forcibly entered Narsaraju’s house and took away the cheques and other documents given by the former IRTS employee  and threatened to kill him if he approached the police.

Subsequently, Narsaraju lodged a complaint against Mohapatra, Ibrahim and Yasin at Tukaramgate police station and a case was booked against them under sections 420, 406, 506 and 384 of the IPC on February 5. Prior to this, other victim Venu Gopal had also lodged a complaint against Mohapatra and others at the same police station on January 24.

Based on the complaints, police arrested Ibrahim on March 14 and his son Yasin managed to secure a stay on his arrest. “By that time, Mohapatra had fled the country. We had issued a lookout circular to all international airports in the country,” the inspector said.

On June 29, immigration officials at the Chennai airport took Mohapatra into custody when he arrived there from Singapore. The immigration sleuths immediately alerted Tukaramgate police about the arrival of Mohapatra and was brought to the city on Monday. Mohapatra was produced in court and remanded in judicial custody.

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