IN THE end, it was love that unravelled his make-believe world. Raghav Rajan was an introvert, but a female colleague at the bank where they worked fell for his shy and polite demeanour. One fine evening, she took him by surprise and proposed to him at a restaurant. Overcome with emotion, he opened up like never before and told her all about his hidden past. At first, she thought he was joking. After returning home, she Googled him. What she found on the Internet left her numb.
The man known as Raghav Rajan to friends and colleagues was in fact Bitti Mohanty. He was a convicted rapist, a fugitive who had changed his identity to evade the law. When she realised the truth, she could not digest the reality of loving a rapist. Her dreams of marrying him went up in smoke and she decided to expose the man with a fake identity. A rapist leading a double life.
On 6 March, the General Manager (Human Resources) of State Bank of Travancore (SBT) received an unsigned letter in Hindi and English. It claimed that Raghav Rajan, who was working at the bank’s Chalai branch in Kerala’s Kannur district, had faked his identity to evade jail after being convicted for raping a German woman in Alwar, Rajasthan, in 2006. Attached with the letter were his old photographs and the details of the rape case. A copy was sent to the bank manager as well.
The stunned bank manager shared the contents of the letter with some colleagues. When one of them questioned Rajan about the letter, he just smiled it off. Meanwhile, the bank’s HR department had forwarded the letter to the Kerala Director General of Police (DGP), who directed the Kannur Superintendent of Police on 7 March to verify the matter. Within 24 hours, Raghav Rajan was in police custody.
In custody, Rajan adamantly denied that he was Bitti Mohanty. But he made some missteps. Police sources revealed that Rajan was planning to leave Kannur as soon as he sensed trouble. “He had shifted to a lodge from his rented residence, which was close to his office. He was waiting to find a safe hideout,” says a police officer on the condition of anonymity.
But Rajan proved to be a tough nut to crack. “It was not easy to handle him,” says the officer. “During interrogation, he acted cool and behaved as if he had no knowledge about Bitti Mohanty. After a few hours, he started revealing some things. But we had no proof to establish that the person in our custody was Bitti Mohanty.”
|ON THE RUN
Rapes German girl
Sentenced to seven years in jail
Works at Deena Janodharana School, Puttaparthi
Works at Sree Vidya College, Puttaparthi
Studies MBA at CIT, Kannur
Works at Sree Vidya College, Puttaparthi
Works at State Bank of Travancore, Kannur
Arrested from Kannur
Rajan had various documents to prove his new identity. He had a voter’s identity card issued by the Revenue Taluk Office of Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh, educational qualifications from secondary level to MBA, accounts in four banks, including SBT, and a passport issued by the Kozhikode regional passport officer. The passport issued on 26 October 2012 (J 3306779) identified him as Raghav Rajan with BTech and MBA as educational qualifications.
In a bid to crack his true identity, Kerala Police formed three 10-member teams and dispatched them to Puttaparthi, where he was officially reborn as Raghav Rajan, his home state of Odisha, and Rajasthan, where the rape took place.
The first port of call was Chinmaya Institute of Technology (CIT) in Kannur, where Rajan had pursued his MBA degree in 2009-11. All his classmates had only good things to say about the boy who they thought hailed from Andhra Pradesh. “Rajan was a brilliant orator and a serious student,” recalls Sarath, a batchmate. “He never mingled with us or talked about his family. He had taken a single room at the hostel and was the top student of our batch.
He was gentle to everyone at the campus.”
KK Rajan, the secretary of Chinmaya Mission Educational Trust, which runs the college, had a similar story to tell. “We never received any complaints about him. He was deeply spiritual and regarded as a model student. We had given him admission after verifying his records. He even scored very high marks in the group discussion,” says the secretary.
When some curious guys probed Rajan about his past during his college days, he responded that he considered Swami Chinmayananda as his spiritual guru and that’s why he wanted to study in the institute run by the Chinmaya Mission. “He was spiritual and very moralistic,” recalls another batchmate. “He always told us to behave properly and never showed any interest in merrymaking inside the campus. He also kept a safe distance from girls.”
After passing out from CIT, Rajan worked at the e-learning department of Amrita Engineering College in Kollam, Kerala, from 18 October 2011 to 13 June 2012. After that, Rajan got a job as a probationary officer at SBT’s Kannur branch.
BEFORE SLIPPING into Kerala, Mohanty had lived in Puttaparthi where his new identity as Raghav Rajan was created with fake documents. He lived in an apartment owned by Dr Christayya at Sai Sree Enclave, Chitravathi Road. Dr Christayya told the police that he was introduced to Mohanty by AC Rama Rao, a retired teacher. Rama Rao, in turn, informed the police that a “reputed person” who has strong influence in the Satya Sai management, introduced Mohanty as Raghav Rajan to him.
In 2006, Mohanty, then 25, was convicted of raping a 26-year-old German woman at a hotel in Alwar. In her statement to the police, she claimed that she had befriended Mohanty through a common friend when she came to India for a research project. She alleged that Mohanty had raped her several times on 20 March 2006 under the influence of alcohol.
Since the rape victim was to fly back to Germany, the case was tried in a fast-track court. On 12 April 2006, Mohanty was convicted and sentenced for seven years in prison. Seven months later, he applied for parole to meet his ailing mother and was given 15 days’ parole on 20 November. But Mohanty did not return and had been on the run since then.
“Rajan said it was his uncle who guided him to Puttaparthi and not his father. But we don’t believe it,” says a police officer. “It’s a fact that he had a mentor in Puttaparthi who has tremendous clout over the local administration. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to procure all these fake documents to cover up his criminal past.”
Mohanty is the son of former Odisha DGP BB Mohanty. BB Mohanty was accused of aiding his son’s escape and was suspended, but later reinstated. He retired in 2012.
As per records, Rajan is the son of SV Rama Rao, an agriculturist who stays at A- 17 Sai Sree Enclave in Puttaparthi. The police have failed to locate SV Rama Rao so far. In Puttaparthi, Rajan took up a teaching position at Deena Janodharana School. Later, he worked in a similar capacity at Sree Vidya College, but lost his job after a prolonged absence. In 2009, he left for Kerala to pursue his MBA.
Ever since his arrest, Mohanty has maintained that he is Raghav Rajan. The Rajasthan Police, which is contemplating a DNA test on Mohanty to establish his real identity, is likely to face a problem because his parents have gone missing since he was arrested by the Kerala Police.
“Proving Bitti Mohanty’s identity will be a laborious and complex process,” says a police officer. “We have to seek the cooperation of our Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan counterparts for it.”
Mohanty has already fooled the world once. Will he be able to do it again?