Two incidents of custodial deaths has rocked Odisha. In the first case, a man named K Ramesh was allgedly hacked to death by the personnel of Baseli Sahi police station in the seaside pilgrim town of Puri a day after he was picked up at night for some criminal cases against him. While in another case, person named Tarique Salim had died at Biramitrapur police station in Sundergarh district under mysterious circumstances. Both the deaths occurred on Thursday.
The deaths led to widespread criticism against state’s Naveen Patnaik government with the BJP and Congress lashing out at the ruling regime both inside and outside the house.
The issue rocked the state assembly for two consecutive days on Friday and Saturday with BJP and Congress members staging a noisy protest on Friday forcing speaker S.N. Patro to adjourn the House several times.
The opposition lawmakers made vociferous demands for a statement from chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who also holds the home portfolio, on the custodial deaths. They demanded stringent action against the erring police personnel responsible for the death of two youths and compensation to the bereaved families.
Coming under pressure, government transferred Akhileswar Singh, the superintendent of police of Puri district. Singh will now report to the police headquarters. However, the opposition is clearly not satisfied with the move which it has termed as a mere “eyewash.”
The BJP demanded that instead of transfer, the IPS should be suspended and that he must be booked under charges of murder. “The Puri Superintendent of Police should be booked under murder charges. His transfer from district is not punishment. He should be suspended. A judicial probe should be ordered,” demanded Leader of the Opposition and BJP MLA Pradipta Kumar Naik.
Veteran Congress leader Narasingha Mishra also echoed similar views saying, “The law and order situation has collapsed completely… jungle raj is prevailing… I have been reiterating at different fora. I have again repeated in the Assembly. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should have taken sterner action in two custodial cases.”
In a bid to corner the government, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra along with local MLA Jayant Kumar Sarangi, Brahmagiri MLA Lalitendu Bidyadhar Mahapatra and hundreds of workers staged a rally from Gundicha mandir to Collector office on Saturday. Patra also met relatives of deceased Ramesh on the day.
Speaking to mediapersons, Patra said he would fight till the guilty were punished and the family got justice. He demanded the police personnel involved should be booked for murder, `1 crore compensation to the bereaved family and an impartial investigation conducted by NHRC.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to rid itself of the allegations that the family members were not allowed to see the body of Ramesh after post-mortem or conduct the last rites, the office of the SP, Puri, posted a video footage on Twitter stating that the body of Ramesh was cremated by his family members including his father K Gurumurthy and uncle K Arya at Swargadwar after post mortem at the district headquarters hospital.