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Sharmili Mallick

Puri: Close on the heels of the allegations over two deaths in police custody in Puri and Sundargarh respectively, another allegation of custodial torture has been received from Pipili on Saturday.

As many as six persons, arrested by the police in connection with the assault on a youth at Bhabanipur village under Pipili police limits last week, were admitted to SCB Medical College and Hospital (SCBMCH) in Cuttack today with multiple injury marks on their bodies.

On November 13, the six youths- identified as Hafiz Khan (25), Pratap Kumar Behera (23), Raju Behera (18), Mohammad Tafiq alias Juma (18), Jagannath Puspalak alias Jaga (19) and Dharanidhar Behera (24) had allegedly attacked one Sajid Hussain at around 9.30 PM near a political party office in Pipili with swords over some past enmity. Sajid was taken to the Community Health Centre (CHC) in Pipili and later shifted to a private hospital in Bhubaneswar where he is stated to be critical.

Based on a complaint made by Sajid's brother, Jahid Hussain, the six accused were arrested by the Pipili police the next day. Police also seized two swords and a bike from their possession.

The six accused were kept in custody for around six days at the Pipili Police Station. They were forwarded to the court and then sent to Nimapada jail on November 19. However, the jail authorities refused to lodge the six accused after observing their health condition.

Subsequently, police took the six accused to the Nimpada Government Hospital from where the doctors immediately referred them to the SCB Hospital in Cuttack. Sources said, except Raju, the health condition of the other five accused is stated to be critical.

Meanwhile, Kalandi Behera, father of one of the accused, Raju Behera, said, "After returning from work when I heard my son had been picked up by the police, I rushed to the police station. I waited till 2 AM at the police station to meet my son. But the concerned officials did not allow us to even see him. When I went to the police station the next day and asked them the exact reason behind the arrest, they refused to answer and informed that he had been forwarded to court along with five more. Now, I am hearing that they (Raju and others) have been sent to the SCB Hospital," he said.

Raju's grandmother, Subani Behera alleged, "It's been nine days today since the police took him away. They have beaten him brutally and he has multiple injuries on his body. They are not allowing us to meet him."

The Pipili Police is yet to respond on the alleged custodial torture on the six youths.
"The arrestees had been mercilessly beaten in the police custody in clear violation of Human Right norms. They don't have an advocate so far. I heard they were beaten so brutally that they were unable to even put their signature. They were directly sent to SCB from Nimapada jail. The entire incident should be investigated," said lawyer Surat Raiguru.


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