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Pradeep Singh

The Bharat Vikash Parishad has filed a petition in Orissa High Court seeking investigation into the alleged Bargarh custodial death case by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or a neutral agency.

In the petition, the organisation has also requested a grant of Rs 50 lakh as compensation to the family of the deceased. It has made the Centre, Odisha government, the Odisha DGP, Bargarh SP and the local IIC respondents.

The Case:

Allegations are that one Gobinda Kumbhar, a resident of Tora village in the district, was picked up by the police on the night of September 24 in connection with a quarrel case filed at the Town Police Station on July 20, 2021.

The next morning (September 25), Kumbhar was shifted to a hospital after his condition allegedly deteriorated. Later, he was shifted to the district headquarters hospital (DHH) where doctors pronounced him dead.

Aftermath:

The family members of Kumbhar alleged that he was brutally tortured by the cops while in the custody that led to his death. Soon, a group of people staged protest near the DHH and subsequently, a violent scuffle broke out between police personnel and the protestors.

The police personnel later resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the mob and a platoon of police force was deployed on the hospital campus to control the situation.

Police Version:

The Additional SP, Dilip Kumar Bag, was quick to respond to the allegations. He said that the youth fell ill in the morning (September 25) and was initially shifted to the old DHH and later taken to the new DHH for better treatment. However, Kumbhar was received dead at the hospital.

“...the police have no role in the death of the youth," he claimed.

Action Taken So Far:

On September 26, Bargarh SP Rahul Jain relieved five cops of the Town police station, including two sub-inspectors (Soumyakanta Baliarsingh and Mangal Kisko), 2 Assistant Sis (Pitambar Behera and Kshirodra Biswal)  and homeguard Gopabandhu Jagdala-  of duty and attached them to the reserve.

Jain also requested the ADG, Human Rights Protection Cell (HRPC) to conduct an independent probe into the alleged custodial death.

Political Intervention:

A couple of days after the incident, Bargarh MP Suresh Pujari demanded Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to handover the probe of Kumbhar’s death in police custody to an independent agency for free and fair investigation. 

Pujari compared the action of the Police with the terrorist group Taliban and urged the Home department, which comes under the CM, to take serious note of the inhumane incident and direct the police to get a PS Case registered U/S-304.

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