Controversy over police custody death in Odisha thickens

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The controversy around the death of a Dalit youth, allegedly due to custodial torture in western Odisha district of Bargarh has thickened, with Opposition leaders and rights activists demanding the immediate sacking of police personnel involved in the case and prosecution under stringent sections of the IPC.

Gobinda Kumbhar (35) of Tora under the Bargarh town police station limit was picked up by police on September 24 night. However, he was taken to the Bargarh District Headquarters Hospital (DHH) when he became serious in the police station. He was later declared brought dead at the hospital on Saturday morning.

Wife’s charge

“My husband was healthy and did not have record of any previous disease. He was beaten to death in the hospital,” alleged Rubi Kumbhar, wife of the diseased.

The alleged custodial death evoked sharp reaction among the locals, who ransacked the district headquarter hospital. Jitan Kumbhar, deceased’s younger brother, had climbed up the terrace of the seven-storeyed hospital building and threatened to die bysuicide demanding action against the police personnel on Saturday. Police had resorted to lathi-charge to disperse people who were marching towards the office of the Superintendent of Police (SP), Bargarh.

Subsequently, five police personnel, including two sub-inspectors, two assistant sub-inspectors and a home guard were relieved from duty.

BJP State president Sameer Mohanty said on Tuesday, “The man was murdered by police personnel in the police station. They must produce all CCTV footage right from bringing the accused to rushing him to hospital. An independent doctors team should be constituted to probe the circumstances leading to death”.

He stated, “instead of prosecuting police officers under stringent law, they have been rewarded by relieving them from duty. It proves complicity of higher officials to save the accused police personnel.”

‘Dismiss them’

Rastriya Dalit Mahasabha president Ashok Mallick observed, “we condemn the police behaviour. The probe by Human Rights Protection Cell of the State police and judicial magistrate should be time-bound. Instead of relieving them from duty, they should have been dismissed from job.”

“We demand ₹50 lakh compensation for the family members of the deceased. The police cannot wash away their guilt of murdering a Dalit. If exemplary action is not taken in the custodial death, which appeared to be a clear murder, police personnel will be emboldened to commit similar crime in future,” he added. Rights groups have stated that the National Commission for Scheduled Cast would be moved demanding a fair probe.

Earlier, in a letter addressed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Bargarh Lok Sabha member Suresh Pujari said, “the Talibanisation of police is not at all a good sign of a healthy democracy. The circumstances leading to the death of Gobinda Kumbhar and the apparent signs of injuries on his body suggests criminal assault, bringing the instant cases under Section 304 (I) of the IPC.”

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 1:05:58 AM |

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