Bhubaneswar: Two alleged custodial deaths in Puri and Sundargarh’s Biramitrapur and another of excesses in Pipili in the last three days have come as a blot on the men in uniform in Odisha.
The Orissa High Court and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have also issued notices to the state government, seeking a detailed report pertaining to the Puri custodial death.
A India Spend report, quoting National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), said that the state had reported at least 19 custodial deaths between 2010 and 2019.
The top five states, according to National Campaign Against Torture’s (NCAT) ‘India: Annual Report on Torture 2019’, were Uttar Pradesh with 14 deaths, Tamil Nadu and Punjab (11 each), Bihar and Madhya Pradesh (9 each), Gujarat (8), Delhi and Odisha (7 each).
The NCRB, however, puts the number at four with Odisha figuring sixth in terms of custodial deaths recorded across the country in 2019, the TNIE reported.
A case related to death in police custody was registered in 2018 but charge sheet was not filed. In 2017, two cases were registered and charge sheets were filed, but no arrest was made, the report added.
Interestingly, the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) passed four orders against high-handedness, negligence and harassment by the Odisha Police this month alone. These include a fake encounter, illegal detention and framing murder.
On November 14, the Commission asked the Odisha government not to allot Sandhyarani Jena, former IIC of Patna police station, any field duty or posting for two years over her alleged involvement in custodial torture and send her for training on how to deal with accused and complex situations.
In 2018, NHRC wrote to the Odisha Chief Secretary seeking an explanation for under-reporting of police custody deaths data to NCRB by the state. According to NHRC, four persons died in police custody in 2016. However, NCRB data showed no deaths in police custody in the state that year.