Odisha government suspends three cops, orders probe as mob torches police station over custodial death
Though police officials claimed that Abinash committed suicide by hanging himself in the custody, the residents of Bhalupali area alleged that the youth was beaten to death by the police.
SAMBALPUR: The Odisha Government on Friday suspended three policemen and ordered a probe by its Human Rights Protection Cell (HRPC) hours after an angry mob torched a police station in Sambalpur town protesting death of a 22-year-old youth, accused of theft, in the custody.
Even as tension ran high after alleged custodial death of the tribal youth, Abinash Munda at Ainthapali police station, more than 12 platoons police force was mobilised to control the situation. Seven policemen were hurt in stone-pelting by the protestors.
While police fanned out to keep the mob at bay, Director General of Police Dr R P Sharma suspended Ainthapali Inspector-in-charge Srimanta Barik, Diary Charge Officer Harishchandra Gadnayak and a constable, Nirupama Choudhury for dereliction of duty.
Additional DG of HRPC Mahendra Pratap informed that a three-member team has already proceeded to Sambalpur to investigate into the manner.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed grief over the matter and announced an ex gratia compensation of Rs 5 lakh.
Trouble started when Abinash, a resident of Bhalupali, was found hanging in the Ainthapali police station on Friday morning. Though police claimed that he hung himself, locals alleged that he was beaten to death by the police. Soon the Ainthapali police station turned into a battlefield as the news of the death spread.
An enraged mob outnumbered the police and ransacked the police station before setting it on fire. At least seven police personnel, including Hirakud SDPO, Abakash Routray sustained injuries in the incident after irate mob pelted stones at the police station.
The mob also set on fire the seized vehicles kept on the premises of the police station. The protestors blocked the Sambalpur-Rourkela State Highway 10, leading to severe traffic chaos on the busy highway for about one and half hour.
Subsequently, the police chased away the irate mob following which the vehicular movement became normal.
Inspector General of Police, Northern Range, Susant Kumar Nath, Sambalpur district collector, Samarth Verma, Superintendent of Police, Sanjeev Arora rushed to the spot to take the stock of the situation.
Nath said, the situation is under control now. Impartial investigation will be conducted into the incident. The HRPC will conduct inquiry and action will be taken against the officials found responsible, he added.
According to reports, Abinash was detained by police in connection with a theft from a Kalyan Mandap in the city on Thursday. He was suspected of theft of gold ornaments and cash during the marriage ceremony of daughter of Ranjan Kumar Panda of Mudipada on February 6.
Meanwhile, the Odisha Human Rights Commission has also sought a report within 15 days from the HRPC.