Bhubaneswar: He lured with love college teachers, even hard-boiled policewomen and captious lawyers, as he went about striking middle-aged women desperate for companionship with cupid’s arrow, marrying 14 of them across seven states over 38 years before running out of luck on Monday.

Ramesh Chandra Swain, the 66-year-old from a coastal village in Odisha’s Kendrapara district, is now cooling his heels in a jail in judicial custody.

Swain, according to police, posed as a doctor posted as a deputy director general under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. His victims failed to see through his fake identity and, as the adage goes, did just as the doctor ordered.

According to police, the sexagenarian duped his wives, three of whom live in Delhi, three in Odisha, two each in Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Assam, and one each in Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, of lakhs of rupees before moving on to greener pastures.

“The police have so far located 9 of the 14 wives of the man and urged others to come forward. We suspect many women who were cheated by him are not coming forward because of social stigma. We appeal them to contact Odisha police,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Bhubaneswar, U S Dash told reporters on Monday.

Swain was remanded in judicial custody by a local court, and the police are in the process of seeking his remand for further questioning.

Swain got married for the first time in 1982, and the last in 2020, 38 years apart. His last marriage to a teacher was solemnised at an Arya Samaj temple in Delhi.

He, however, rejected the accusations. “I have not married all these women and I am indeed a doctor,” Swain asserted while being escorted to the court.

Ramesh Chandra Swain, who acquired different names like Dr Bibhu Prakash Swain and Dr Ramani Ranjan Swain, may not be a doctor but two of his three children with the first wife are doctors and settled abroad, while his second wife also is a medical practitioner. She currently lives in Prayag Raj.

According to Bhubaneswar Special Squad Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Sanjeev Satpathy, Swain cheated educated women looking for companionship. His victims include an assistant commandant of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, school and college teachers, and even a Delhi High Court lawyer.

Swain befriended women on matrimonial websites and deftly concealed his matrimonial status.

However, he ran out of luck while living in Bhubaneswar with his teacher wife from Delhi in a rented accomodation. The woman got a whiff of his first marriage and lodged an FIR at the Women’s police station here on July 5, 2021.

He fled Bhubaneswar after his latest wife inquired about his first, who lives in Kendrapara. He lived in Assam with another of his wives for six months during which the complainant woman returned to Delhi. He returned to Bhubaneswar after confirming that his last wife had left the city.

However, before leaving, the complaint had arranged for people to track the man and informed police about his return to Bhubaneswar. He was promptly arrested.

Satpathy said Swain used to target middle-aged single women, mostly divorcees, who sought companionship on matrimonial websites. He was claimed to have cheated some of them of lakhs of rupees before deserting them.

He allegedly duped his wife from Punjab of Rs 10 lakh, and the Gurdwara, where his marriage was solemnised, of Rs 11 lakh with the promise of facilitating setting up a medical college.

Police seized 11 ATM cards, four Aadhaar cards and documents including Bihar School Certificates acquired under different identities.

He was earlier arrested twice for cheating unemployed youth and loan fraud in Hyderabad in 2010 and Ernakulam in 2006, police said.

Swain, officials claimed, passed ISC from Kendrapara College and pursued a course in medical laboratory technology from a college in Kochi and another in alternative medicine in Kolkata.

“His educational qualifications need to be verified, but he certainly is not an MBBS doctor,” a police officer said.

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