Two ‘custodial’ deaths in 24 hours, Odisha police in dock

Two ‘custodial’ deaths in 24 hours, Odisha police in dock

ROURKELA: A day before the State Assembly meets for the Winter session, two alleged custodial deaths in last 24 hours came as a huge embarrassment for Odisha Police on Thursday.In Puri, an anti-social died within hours of police allegedly arresting him whereas the second incident was reported from Birmitrapur where a youth detained over abduction of a businessman died during early hours of the day. While locals laid siege to Birmitrapur police station after the incident, Puri saw tension necessitating a mild baton charge by police. 

Puri SP Akhileshwar Singh told mediapersons that the deceased, K Ramesh was arrested by Baselisahi police after a tussle while he was attempting a crime in Mangalaghat area. During the scuffle, three police personnel suffered injuries. He was brought to the police station and shifted to district headquarters hospital later in the night when his health condition deteriorated. He died during treatment, the SP said. 
Singh said Ramesh was involved in five criminal cases across districts and was released on bail from a Talcher jail recently.

However, uncle of the victim, K Ariya alleged that Ramesh was  taken away by police from his house late in the night three days ago. He died of torture in custody, Ariya alleged.He said the family was not allowed to see the dead body of their dead son. Instead of handing over the body to the family after postmortem, police conducted the cremation under security. “By the time, we reached Swargadwar, the body was almost burnt,” said Ariya.

The SP said, a case of custodial death has been registered and all norms laid down by NHRC were being followed. An additional superintendent of police and a DSP have been entrusted with the investigation.
The incident has sparked a political storm with both BJP and Congress staging dharna in front of Puri Collector, SP office as well as the district headquarters hospital on Thursday. Leader of Opposition Pradipta Naik, local MLA Jayant Kumar Sarangi along with party MLAs met parents of victim and assured them justice. 

Naik said the party demanded a judicial probe by a sitting judge of the Orissa High Court, transfer of SP, registration of murder case against the IIC of Baselisahi police station besides ` 1 crore compensation to the victim’s family. Members of Puri Bar Association also took out a procession and put forth similar demands.In Birmitrapur, the victim, Md Tariq Salim was detained in connection with the kidnapping of a businessman, Pradeep Kundu. Tariq, a resident of Karbala Road area in Birmitrapur town, was reportedly taken into custody by police from Simdega district of Jharkhand on Wednesday. 

He was taken to different locations in course of investigation into the case. However, his health condition deteriorated and was rushed to Rourkela Government Hospital (RGH) early on Thursday where he was declared dead. However, sources close to Tariq’s family said he was picked up from Vedvyas area of Rourkela on Wednesday and allegedly tortured, leading to his death. The incident triggered tension with locals laying siege to the police station from 8.30 am onwards. The agitators demanded suspension of police officers involved and booking them on murder charges and compensation for the family of the deceased. 

After autopsy at Rourkela, Tariq’s body was taken to Birmitrapur in the evening. Apprehending fresh trouble on arrival of the body, police removed a gathering of locals from near the Birmitrapur police station and also closed shops along National Highway 143. Sundargarh SP Sagarika Nath said inquest of the body was done in presence of an executive magistrate and the autopsy was conducted in strict adherence to the NHRC guidelines by a team of doctors.

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