BHUBANESWAR: Even as the State Government grapples with Opposition onslaught and violent protests over alleged death of a youth in Titlagarh due to police torture, the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) on Monday sought a detailed report on the incident.
The Commission directed ADG, CID/CB and DIG (Northern Range) to submit a report on the death of Basant Pradhan. It also asked Balangir Collector and SP to inform if any interim compensation amount was paid to the kin of the deceased. The reports should be filed within three weeks, acting chairperson Justice BK Mishra ordered.
The directions came in response to petitions filed by rights activists Biswapriya Kanungo and Bijay Kumar Panda seeking an independent probe into Pradhan’s death and payment of compensation to his family. They have urged the Commission to initiate a probe on its own through its Director (Investigation) stating that the Crime Branch (CB) probe ordered by the Government will not be impartial.
The CID CB, being a branch of the State police machinery, cannot conduct an impartial inquiry into a crime involving policemen, they submitted. The complainants alleged that the nature of death has aroused suspicion among the people. As prima facie evidence pointed towards death due to torture, it has drawn violent reactions from the locals to the extent that the Titlagarh police station was set ablaze by a rampaging mob.
Pradhan (32), a mobile phone repair shop owner, was detained by Titlagarh police over an alleged phone theft case on June 10. He was then handed over to Balangir police as the theft had allegedly taken place in Balangir. He was kept in custody for five days without registration of a case.
When he was released on June 15 and went back home, he was not in a good condition. He had sustained injuries due to the alleged police torture and died on June 21. His death sparked violent protests with mob not only torching the police station but also scores of vehicles.
While the State Government has directed a CB probe into the incident and suspended the Inspectors of both the police stations, the move has failed to quell the backlash. The Opposition Congress and BJP have termed the probe as a cover-up operation to protect the cops, who had openly worked for the ruling BJD in the recent Assembly and general elections and were active for the upcoming Titlagarh and Balangir urban body polls.