Says his behaviour betrayed nothing that will raise suspicion

Abhishek Kumar from Bihar is yet to come out of the jolt after he was told that he had been sharing his rented house at Pazhayangadi here for the past one month with Bitti Mohanty, an absconding convict who was arrested by the police here on March 8.

Bitti, who had jumped bail, had been impersonating as Raghav Rajan.

Mr. Kumar, hailing from Patna, is an assistant manager at the State Bank of Travancore (SBT) branch at Pazhayangadi in Madayi panchayat here. He got the shock of his life on March 9 when news broke that his young housemate and colleague was the renegade who jumped parole after he was convicted in 2006 for seven years in a case of rape of a German national in Rajasthan. For the senior officer, who had been working at the branch for the past one year after his transfer from Bangalore, the worse was to come when the police told the media that the housemate of Bitti at Pazhayangadi had been missing since Friday.

On leave

When contacted, a top officer of the SBT regional office here said that Mr. Kumar had gone on leave for three days for which he had applied a month in advance. “Since he has joint custody of the bank keys, Mr. Kumar had applied for three days’ leave of absence a month ago. Leave could be sanctioned only after handing over charge to another officer,” the official said adding that it was only a coincidence that his three-day leave began on March 8 when Bitti was taken into custody. The official said that Mr. Kumar had gone to meet his brother in Bangalore and would be back on Tuesday.

When The Hindu called him over his mobile phone, Mr. Kumar was reluctant to speak admitting that he was very disturbed at his name being dragged into the whole affair. He said he had been getting a lot of phone calls since March 9. “He asked me a month ago if he could stay with me at my rented house close to the bank and I agreed because he said he was looking for a rented room as he found it difficult to shuttle between Pazhayangadi and Puthiyatheru, where he had been staying since he joined the branch as probationary officer in June last year.

Mr. Kumar said that his young colleague was an unobtrusive person who just minded his business. As the rented house is close to the bank branch at Kozhi Bazar in Pazhayangadi, they could just walk to and from the office. Mr. Kumar said that the two were not very close. His colleague had behaved very decently and had done his job diligently. His behaviour betrayed nothing that would raise suspicion, Mr. Kumar said adding that he was very modest. During his stay with him, he had not seen the person he knew as Raghav Rajan having any visitor, he said in response to a question.

A regular at temple

Another officer at the bank branch, on condition of anonymity, said that the women staff in the branch, including the manager, were particularly shocked by the whole affair. He showed no sign of aggression and was fully immersed in his work, he said. The arrested was also not known to have any local contact as he worked late, the official said.

He was also a regular visitor at the nearby Madayi Thiruvattuvar Kavu temple for offering puja, the bank officer said, adding that he was very affable with customers.

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