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Angry mob ransacks Titlagarh SDPO’s office after custodial death

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau

Titlagarh, June 28:

Tension prevailed in the western Odisha sub-divisional town of Titlagarh after unruly mobs in hundreds today ransacked office of the Sub Divisional Police Officer (SDPO)  setting fire to police vehicles, files and documents and motor bikes kept in the malkhana after damaged computers and furniture demanding the arrest of policemen responsible for allegedly torturing a local youth in custody who succumbed to his injuries earlier in the day.

Reports said a local of Hatapadapada Basant Pradhan was picked up by Balangir police with the help of Titlagarh police on June 10 on charges of buying a stolen mobile phone handset. Basant’s family has alleged that he was released by Balangir police on June 15 after being subjected to severe torture while in custody.

They alleged that Basant had remained unwell since then and was declared dead by the doctor soon after he was taken to the hospital for treatment as his condition aggravated.

Locals, who were staging a dharna keeping the body of the deceased in front of the SDPO’s office demanding arrest of the accused policemen, suddenly went berserk indulging in stone pelting and ransacked the office.

Titlagarh SDPO Dillip Purohit was injured in the stone pelting while a few other policemen also received minor injuries, reports said.

Earlier,  in the day the mobs had ransacked Titlagarh police station damaging furniture, files and a television set before moving to the SDPO’s office  demanding arrest of the accused policemen.

Additional SP Sunil Kumar Joshi, who was the first to rush to the spot, said all those who are responsible for the youth’s death will be arrested and booked under section 302 IPC.

Joshi who tried his best to pacify the mob, told the media that there were no records available of the youth being arrested either at the Titlagarh police station or at the Balangir town police station.

The police officer said if required, the matter will be probed by the Crime branch and action will be taken against the erring policemen.

Reports said Balangir SP was on his way to Titlagarh.

Titlagarh MLA Tukuni Sahu while speaking to a local TV channel, appealed to the people to maintain clam and peace. She said she had spoken to the SP regarding the matter and described the death of the youth as unfortunate.

The Odisha government has ordered a probe by the Crime Branch into the alleged custodial death, informed Sunil Kumar Joshi, Additional SP, Balangir. Joshi said the IICs of Titlagarh and Balangir town police station have been suspended.

The incident has already taken a political colour with the state BJP holding the state government responsible for the violent incident and demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The party, in a press release, said that the ruling party is applying every trick to ensure the victory of party candidates in the urban local body and the incident is the result of the trick.
Polls to Titlagarh NAC are scheduled for July 1.