Sunday, Aug 19, 2018 | Last Update : 11:25 AM IST

Parcel bomb case: When tears of a young widow moved cops

THE ASIAN AGE. | AKSHAYA KUMAR SAHOO
Published : May 7, 2018, 2:25 am IST
Updated : May 7, 2018, 2:24 am IST

Shrewd killer made parcel bomb using cracker powder, wires and sent it in a box to victims’ home through a courier.

(Right) File photograph of Reema Rani Sahu with her husband Soumyasekhar.
 (Right) File photograph of Reema Rani Sahu with her husband Soumyasekhar.

Bhubaneswar: The shocking story of a young woman losing her husband in a parcel bomb explosion just five days after her wedding to the software engineer has moved the entire Odisha police administration. The entire police establishment is toiling day and night to piece together evidences to ensure the “strictest” possible punishment for the accused — an English lecturer.

The police which took nearly two months to crack the case and arrest the culprit Punjilal Meher, has admitted that all the top officers were moved by the tears of the young woman Reema Rani Sahu and had vowed to nail the culprit at any cost.

“All the top cops were moved by the tears of Reema. For all of us, she appeared like our own daughter crying for justice. It was not an easy case to crack as the accused is highly intelligent and had months of research to commit the crime without leaving any evidences for the police to reach him. But our determination to bring the culprit to book to assuage the agony of the girl paved the way to solve the mystery,” said inspector general of police (crime branch) Arun Bothra.

Twentythree-year-old Reema had got married to Soumyasekhar Sahu, the only son of a college teacher couple. The accused Punjilal Meher, who had a grudge with Soumyasekhar’s mother  Sanjukta over the post of college principal, had sent a parcel bomb through courier as a wedding gift. The groom and his grandmother died while opening the gift box on February 23.

The accused Punjilal was principal of Jyoti Vikash Junior College at Bhainsa in Bolangir district. A couple of years ago, he was replaced by Sanjukta Sahu, who was senior to him in service, as principal by an order of the Odisha government.

Punjilal, the police said, - thought his replacement was a handiwork of Sanjukta. He took it as an act of humiliation and decided to avenge it.

Accused English lecturer Punjilal MeherAccused English lecturer Punjilal Meher

“Punjilal was seething in anger and looking for an opportunity to eliminate the entire family of Sanjukta. His anger was further fuelled when the local youths mocked at him by using a local riddle ‘Punjilal gulgula’ which translates into English as ‘Punjilal can do anything’. Since he was quite educated, he purchased from online stores books on taking revenge without leaving any evidences. He also saw some Hollywood and Bollywood  movies that portrayed protagonists committing crimes without leaving evidence for investigating agencies,” said an investigator.

After nearly six months of research, Punjilal made parcel bombs using gun power collected from crackers and string-light (decorative bulbs) wires and sent to Soumaysekhar’s house at Patnagarh through courier dispatched from Raipur in Chhattisgarh.

Punjilal was so intelligent that he did not include any other people in his mission fearing some day they might disclose the crime.

To execute his design flawlessly, Punjilal had travelled to Raipur by train to dispatch the parcel bomb by courier. He travelled without ticket to avoid CCTV surveillance at the ticket booking counter at Kantabanji railway station. In Raipur also he travelled in cycle-rickshaw and auto-rickshaw covering his face with a scarf to avoid CCTV surveillance at courier counter, said Mr Bothra.

What is most shocking is that Punjilal, without exposing himself, spread a rumour that Soumasekhar was targeted by family of a Raipur based-minority community girl whom he had ditched to marry Reema. He even wrote an anonymous letter to Bolangir police to divert their attention from their suspicion on him.

In the letter, he said that the sender of the parcel bomb was from Raipur who had avenged the humiliation meted out their daughter by the deceased.

Worse still, Punjilal was seen attending the funeral of the deceased as a pall-bearer, shedding tears like a bereaved family member of the deceased Soumyasekhar.

“Punjilal was so intelligent that he initially managed to mislead the police. But, the entire police administration was so resolute the reach  the culprit only to give justice to Reema that it finally nailed him. Until he wrote the anonymous letter, he had left no clues for the investigators. When we analysed the standard of language in the letter our suspicion on him grew and after tracking his movements, we arrested him,” said Mr Bothra.

DGP Rajendra Prasad Sharma said the accused was the “lone wolf” and executed the crime very meticulously. “But the police always believes in the theory that the accused leaves behind some clues for investigation. I thank my colleagues for cracking the case.”

Reema has decided to stay with her in-laws instead of her parents.

“During my short-stay at my in-laws house, I found they treated me as their daughter. I will never get back  my husband. But I will try to console his parents by staying with them as their daughter,” said Reema.

Rabindranath Sahu, father of Soumyasekhar, said, “Reema is our daughter now. If she ever wants to marry again, we will be happy to get her married to a suitable groom. She has a long life to live.”

Tags: parcel bomb case, punjilal meher