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Ex-VC hacked to death, youth on bail detained

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Former Sambalpur University vice-chancellor Dr Dhrubraj Naik was stabbed to death outside his home in Jharsuguda district on Sunday morning, police said. He was 83 years old.

The accused, Pravin Dharwa alias Rimit (20), was arrested for murder.

According to preliminary investigations, Naik had filed an FIR against Dharwa and his family members for illegally attempting to capture his pond in his home village of Sargidihi under the Laikera police station a month ago. Dharwa was arrested and then released on bail.

“Naik owns two ponds in his ancestral village. He had rented the ponds for Rs 120,000 for three years to a few families in the village. The lease ended earlier this year and he wanted to renew the deal. But the accused and his family refused to give up the pond, claiming that it was theirs now. This led to an altercation and Naik filed a lawsuit against him and his family members, ”Jharsuguda SP Bikash Dash told The Indian Express.

Police said Dharwa and his family spent 15,000 rupees on legal fees in the previous case, which he wanted Naik to reimburse. “He had gone to his house to claim the money,” Dash said.

Naik’s son-in-law Swapan Naik said: “I was at home when the accused arrived with an ax… My stepfather was not at home. Dharwa asked my mother-in-law for money, but we didn’t know the context.

A few minutes later, Naik arrived and asked Dharwa to leave. As Dharwa continued to demand money, Naik came out of the house to make a phone call. Dharwa followed him outside, an argument ensued, after which he grabbed Naik by the neck and attacked him with an ax, police said.

Naik was rushed to hospital but succumbed to his injuries.

Dharwa was caught after a two-hour police search in the jungle near the village. He was convicted under IPC section 302 (murder).

Naik joined Odisha’s education service in 1962 and was professor of zoology at Utkal University, a post he held until his retirement in June 1998. Shortly thereafter he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Sambalpur University for three years and ended his term in July 2001.