Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 12 :
Expressing serious concern over the alleged custodial death of Pratap Pradhan in G. Udaygiri in Kandhamal district in December last year, the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has directed the Collector and SP of the district to submit necessary reports and clarifications within the next four weeks.
The Commission’s order on Tuesday came in response to a petition filed by senior journalist Rabi Das and human rights activist Biswapriya Kanungo on 28 December 2013.
The acting chairman of the Commission Justice Birakishore Mishra has asked the Collector and SP of Kandhamal district to submit their reports on the alleged custodial death of Pratap Pradhan along with the post mortem report and the judicial magistrate’s inquiry report in the matter as is required under Section 176 (1-A) of the CrPC.
It is to be noted that a judicial magisterial inquiry is mandatory under Sec 176(1-A) of the CrPC for any allegation of custodial death – be it in police or jail custody.
The commission has also directed the judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) to furnish the inquiry report to the commission within four weeks, said Kanungo.
The Commission has listed the case for hearing on March 21.
The learned judge has asked the Collector and SP to inform the Commission if they had intimated the details of the alleged custodial death to NHRC and OHRC as is required under the statute. He has also directed them to furnish explanations in case they have not intimated the matter to the state and national rights panels.
26-year old Pratap Pradhan of G Udaygiri area, who was arrested on charges of being involved in Maoist activities on December 22 was found dead the next day while he was in police custody at the Sadar police station in Phulbani.
While the police had claimed that Pratap was suddenly taken ill while being brought to Phulbani from the place where he was caught, they had no explanation to offer on the serious bruise marks visible on his body.
The police have also said that Pratap was overpowered while he was extorting money. But it is a mystery how a man, who was fit enough to extort money, suddenly fell so seriously ill immediately after he was taken into police custody that he died within hours.
Pratap’s mother had said her son had been beaten to death by the police.