Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 22:
Former Kendrapara SP Satish Gajbhiye, who was placed under suspension on August 13 last year for using excess force against agitators near Odisha’s Sarathi ashram, today appeared before central RDC AB Ota in connection with Namtara shooting incident.
According to a source, the tainted top cop was questioned about the conditions that led to the firing. He was also asked to produce documented evidence to support his claims.
Overall, statements of 50 witnesses have been recorded in connection with the incident including of Gajbhiye, his driver, personal security officer, former Kendrapara collector Pramod Das, the liquor shop owner and the doctor who treated the patients. Statements of 16 witnesses were recorded today, the source added.
“The SP today submitted an affidavit based on the data he wanted to produce. Besides, I did question him from several angles I found necessary for the enquiry. He provided all necessary facts. The inquiry report is likely to be submitted by October end,” said RDC Ota.
Earlier on September 3, a notice had been served on Gajbhiye and the Kendrapara district collector among others to present their sides before the RDC within three weeks. Even though Gajbhiye sought additional three weeks, the RDC had granted him only two weeks.
It may be mentioned here that the Odisha government on March 11, 2015 ordered the RDC inquiry into the firing incident where indiscriminate police firing injured as many as nine agitators including women and children. After a 15 month long delay, the probe was initiated recently on August 25, 2016.
The agitators were protesting against a liquor shop and the liquor trade in Namtara village under Rajkanika block in Kendrapara district on March 8, 2015. Situation spiraled out of control after the mob ransacked the liquor shop and clashed with the cops.
Police had arrested six persons in connection with clash and had filed cases against over seventy villagers. The protesting villagers had allegedly torched a police vehicle.
While the police claimed that the protesters had ransacked the licensed liquor shop and had pelted stones on policemen, television visuals had shown police too had hurled stones at the protestors who were mainly women.
Interestingly, three day after the incident, the Rajnagar Tehsildar Sukadev Behera — who was in-charge magistrate on the day of firing – has told us that he had not given permission to open fire on the protesters. As per law, firing orders have to be obtained from an executive magistrate or an officer in-charge, if circumstances justify in case police fails to disperse the crowd or an unlawful assembly.