Rights body salve to cop torture victim

The Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has ordered the state government to pay Rs one lakh in compensation to a man who was allegedly tortured in police custody in April.

The OHRC, in its August 7 order, has asked the home department to pay the amount to the victim, Biswanath Pradhan, within four weeks. Pradhan’s wife Binodini had moved the commission on April 19, alleging that her husband was falsely implicated in the case and was illegally picked up from their house in Sambalpur district in connection with a firing incident at Mancheswar here, which happened on April 13. The commission, on the same day, sought a clarification from Bhubaneswar DCP Nitinjeet Singh within two weeks.

Sources said though police took Pradhan into custody on April 15, he was produced in court on April 20, in violation of the provision of criminal procedure code (CrPc). An arrested person cannot be detained for more than 24 hours in police custody as per section 56/57 of CrPC and Article 22 (2) of the Constitution of India.

“Biswanath was taken into custody by former inspector of Saheed Nagar police station Alok Jena on April 15. He was produced in court on April 20. It is a clear case of illegal and unauthorized detention of an accused,” the OHRC order said. Though the firing incident had occurred under the jurisdiction of Mancheswar police, Jena was part of the police squad that conducted raid on Biswanath’s house that day.

The OHRC also found that Biswanath, who was employed as a driver with an NGO in Sambalpur, was tortured in police custody. “The injuries found by jail doctors establish that he was subjected to assault and torture during the period of his detention,” the order said. “The state government is liable to pay compensation of Rs one lakh to the victim,” the order added.

Police sources said Biswanath, along with Rajendra Samal and Jitendra Patra, was arrested for allegedly conspiring to attack a BPO employee outside her office on April 13. Police claimed to have got CCTV footages of Pradhan, Samal and Patra hatching the attack plan at a restaurant in Salepur on April 12. But the motive of the gun attack is still a mystery.

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