Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 13:
A day ahead of the deadline given by the High Court Bar Association and the two major political parties in the state, the Odisha government suspended former Kendrapara SP Satish Gajbhiye this evening.
Gajbhiye has been in the dock for leading the brutal charge against people demonstrating in Kendarapra demanding action against controversial self-styled godman Santosh Raula alias Srimad Sarathi alias Sarathi Baba on August 7 and for illegal acquisition and encroachment of about 40 acres of land in Gop block in Puri district.
The action against Gajbhiye was taken on the basis of the report of central range IG RP Koche, sources in the government said. The report found him guilty on three counts – using excessive force against the demonstrators, inappropriate behaviour with the public and violation of the code of conduct for all India services – the sources added.
The state government had shunted him out to the police headquarters as officer without duty at the height of the disturbances in Kendrapara on August 7 and replaced by Nitinjit Singh.
A defiant Gajbhiye, however, had defended his action in Kendrapara saying there was no ground to arrest Sarathi Baba in a Facebook post last Saturday. He was, however, forced to withdraw the post after reportedly being nudged to do so by his higher-ups.
But soon after withdrawing the Facebook post, the beleaguered IPS officer taunted his detractors by posting videos showing the mob attacking the police in an effort to justify his action.
In a last throw of the dice, a desperate Gajbhiye played the caste card. An organisation fighting for Dalit rights today claimed that he was being victimised because he was a Dalit. Gajbhiye himself had called several media persons leaving no room for doubt that it was he who was behind the press conference called by the organisation.
The High Court Bar Association had served an ultimatum yesterday warning that it would boycott the Independence Day celebrations if the government did not act against Gajbhiye by Friday.
The Congress had threatened to gherao the Raj Bhavan on August 17 if action was not taken against the IPS officer by Friday while the BJP had announced that it would gherao the DGP’s office in Cuttack tomorrow.
Civil society organisations too had submitted a memorandum addressed to the CBI director through the SP here asking for action against the controversial officer.
It remains to be seen, however, if a mere suspension would satisfy those calling for his arrest and initiation of criminal proceedings against him.
While welcoming the government decision to suspend Gajbhiye, High Court Bar Association president Ashok Mohapatra asked for further action against him on the basis of the inquiry report.
Senior BJD leader and the party’s chief spokesperson Amar Satpathy too hinted at further action against the former Kendrapara SP. “I am sure he will be asked for an explanation on the charges against him and further action will be taken against him on its basis,” he said.
Striking a belligerent pose, however, the BJP said it would go ahead with its decision to gherao the DGP office tomorrow demanding his dismissal. “Suspension is no punishment. We had demanded his arrest and institution of criminal proceedings against him and we shall not rest till that happens,” thundered senior party leader Biswabhusan Harichandan.