Bhubaneswar: In the bustling Lal Bahadur Marg in Ankarada near the small town of Hinjili in coastal Odisha, one particular house is attracting visitors curious to know about Bichitra Behera, an Indian Army soldier who has been arrested in Rajasthan for allegedly being honey-trapped by a woman agent of Pakistan’s ISI.
Behera, who was remanded to a five-day police custody by a court in Jaipur on Thursday, lived with his parents and siblings before he joined the Army four years ago. The intelligence unit of Rajasthan Police arrested the 25-year-old soldier, who was posted in Pokhran, on Wednesday on charge of sharing confidential and strategic information about Indian Army through social media to an agent of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.
It has been a nightmarish experience for Behera’s poor parents, his two younger brothers and their neighbours and friends ever since news about his arrest broke. None of them is willing to believe that Behera, who had a hardscrabble life as the son of a truck driver father and housewife mother, could have done this “betrayal with the motherland” for anything on earth.
Bichitra Behera’s parents
“My son can never do such dirty work. I raised him and got him educated by the money I earned through very hard work. I am sure he has been framed. There should be a thorough investigation into these charges,” said Congress Behera, Bichitra’s father, his eyes welling up. Congress drives a truck owned by a businessman for his livelihood.
Bichitra is the eldest of Congress’s three sons. His second son also works as a vehicle driver while the youngest one is a college student currently preparing to pass recruitment tests for the Army.
According to Bichitra’s neighbours and friends, he is a sensible and studious youth who wanted to get into a job that requires the use of bravery for society and the nation.
Bichitra was first selected as a fireman in Odisha Fire Service four years ago and, during the training period, he was selected for a job in Indian Army, said his family members. After completing his training at Army Air Defence College (AADC) at Golabandha, near Gopalpur in Odisha’s Ganjam district, he was posted in Rajasthan, they said.
“I am fully convinced that Bichitrabhai has not done anything as alleged. I and all other local boys here know him as a very patriotic man,” said Prabhat Kumar Maharana, a BTech student who lives in the same neighbourhood as Behera’s family.
“Whenever he (Bichitra) came home during vacation for a fortnight or so, he would gather us all younger people and give us training in physical exercise and encourage us to prepare hard to join the armed forces. We have always been proud of him. It is hard to believe that he was honey trapped for betrayal with the motherland,” added Maharana, weeping.
Subas Chandra Palai, Bichitra’s neighbour and a former vice-chairman of Hinji NAC, said: “I know him since his childhood as his next-door neighbour. He has been a gentle and meritorious boy all along. It seems he has been framed. We all feel sad. Rajasthan Police should probe this case properly”.
“My eldest brother always encourages me and my friends to join the military. I refuse to believe that he has done such betrayal with the nation. He will be freed honourably if this case is probed honestly,” said Kalu Charan Behera, Bichitra’s youngest brother who is a student of plus-two second year at Hinjli Autonomous Science College.
Bichitra’s mother Manu Behera is shell-shocked to learn of his arrest. “I was thinking of getting him married in a grand ceremony and feast shortly. I am convinced that my son is innocent. I urge the authorities to free him,” she said, wailing hysterically.
Ankarada is a part of Hinjli Assembly constituency, from where Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has been elected five times.
(With inputs from Ajit Das)
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