Bhubaneswar: Allegedly disturbed over the frequent quarrels with his wife, a 31-year-old man jumped into a river from a bridge in Odisha's Cuttack while his spouse and five-year-old son looked on helplessly on Wednesday. Efforts by rescue teams to trace him were futile even after 24 hours of the incident.
Subhalaxmi Parida, a high school teacher, was shocked when her husband, Debabrata Mohapatra, suddenly stopped his motorcycle on the Kathajodi river bridge and jumped into the river. The couple, accompanied by their young son, was returning from Jajpur and were going to Mohapatra’s father-in-law's house at Niali.
An official of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), engaged in rescue efforts, said the incident took place around 2:30 pm on Wednesday.
A large crowd gathered on the bridge soon after the incident as bikers saw a distraught Subhalaxmi wailing with her son in her arms. A few people in the crowd called the 108 ambulance service and ODRAF.
Three power boats of the fire brigade and one from the ODRAF began a search operation in the river, which was in spate, about 90 minutes later. Two scuba divers were also pressed into service. Subhalaxmi and her son were taken to Madhupatna police station nearby.
However, there was no trace of Mohapatra till Thursday afternoon. ODRAF sources said it was highly unlikely that Mohapatra, who hailed from Karanj village in Niali, would be alive.
“The current in the river being high, he must have been swept away a very long way within minutes. His body may be found somewhere downstream,” said an ODRAF personnel.
An eyewitness said that Mohapatra suddenly stopped his motorcycle on the bridge and jumped into the river. "Before jumping, he was trying to grab his son, perhaps in a bid to jump into the river along with him. But his wife dragged the little boy away from him,” the eyewitness added.
Mohapatra and Subhalaxmi were married around six years ago. Subhalaxmi teaches at a high school at Mayurbhanj district’s Bangriposhi. Mohapatra, who worked with a private company at the time of his wedding, was reportedly unemployed for the past several months.
Balaram Parida, Subhalaxmi’s brother, said Mohapatra had not been in the right state of mind for the past several years and he used to have quarrels with his wife.
“He (Mohapatra) has been a schizophrenia patient. Such people make suicide attempts. I know of a previous suicide attempt by him. He was also under treatment for his mental problems. He, however, has never been violent with his wife,” said Balaram.
(With inputs from Navesh Mohanty)