Police arrested self-styled godman Alok Bisoi aka Anand Atma Baba on charges of killing Ashok Patra, whose charred body was recovered from his ashram at Rameshwar village in Salipur block the previous day.
The Baba's nephews, Abhisek and Ashsis and his driver were also arrested for helping him to execute the crime.
Police said the 45-year old Baba has confessed to the crime. 'A chopper and sticks used in the murder were seized from the ashram. The Baba, along with nephews, slit the throat of Patra. They poured ghee on the body and set it on fire to destroy evidence,' said SP Gurudas Kundu.
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Patra's family had lodged an FIR against the Baba at Salipur police station. He was a native of Chahadpada village.
The Baba told us that Patra barged into his ashram along with three others on Saturday and tried to loot him by brandishing a knife. This led to a scuffle and in a fit of rage, he and his nephews alltacked Patra with a chopper, said the SP.
Police would bring the accused on remand to extract more information. A manhunt has been launched to nab three associates of Patra, he added.
The locals, however, are not ready to buy the version of police. Patra had raised voice against Baba's illegal activities in the past. He nurtured a grudge against him and settled a score by eliminating him, Said D K Das, a villager.
Meanwhile, tension prevailed in the area as an angry mob blocked the Cuttack-Salipur main road near Paga Square demanding immediate action against the Baba and his associates. They also alleged that the Baba had built the ashram by encroaching on government land. We want a Crime Branch inquiry into the matter, Said Soumya Das, an agitator.
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Traffic on the route was affected for a few hours due to the blockade. Six platoons of police have been deployed to avoid any untoward incident.
The villagers had ransacked the ashram and set it on fire on Saturday after the body of Patra was recovered from the ashram premises. Police detained the Baba, but it did little to pacity mob.
Photos: Prameyanews7, Kaling TV