| Family members of Kuldeep Mohapatra stage a protest in front of the DCP’s office in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati |
Bhubaneswar, June 6: The family members of a man who died in police custody yesterday sat on a dharna in front of the office of the deputy commissioner of police (DCP) today demanding action against erring police officers.
Kuldeep Mohapatra, 27, was arrested by the Saheed Nagar police yesterday for extorting money from a mini truck driver by posing as a policeman. Kuldeep was declared dead at Capital Hospital where the police had sent him for a medical check-up before producing him before court.
In March 2005, Dillip Kumar Sahu, 32, had died in police custody at Saheed Nagar police station. He had been detained on charges of snatching a gold chain. The incident had rocked the Assembly and the government had ordered a judicial probe. The inspector-in-charge, a sub-inspector and two constables had been suspended.
Though the police said a mob had beaten up Kuldeep brutally and that had caused his death, family members of the youth alleged that the police had tortured him in custody.
Kuldeep’s father Rabindranath Mohapatra, mother Pramila, wife Swagatika and sister Lisa Subhadarshini sat on dharna in front of the DCP’s office for around two hours today. It was only after DCP Nitinjeet Singh assured them that an inquiry had been ordered and action would be taken against the erring officers, that the family withdrew their demonstration.
“My son was a businessman and was staying at Prashanti Vihar in Patia here. The Saheed Nagar police intentionally caught him and tortured him to death. The inspector in charge of Saheed Nagar police station, Alok Jena, bore a grudge against him since 2009 when the cop had falsely implicated my son in a case during his tenure at Lingaraj police station,” alleged Rabindranath, who is a journalist based in Jajpur.
He said he had approached the sub-divisional judicial magistrate (SDJM), Bhubaneswar, judicial magistrate first class, Chandikhol, and had filed a writ petition in the high court against the illegal arrest of his son by the Lingaraj police in 2009.
“The high court had instructed the then DCP to take action against the police officer, but no action has been taken till date. Alok Jena tortured him in custody to take revenge against Kuldeep,” Rabindranath alleged.
However, Singh said he was not aware of any such instruction from the high court.
He said Kuldeep’s inquest was done in the presence of an executive magistrate and a post-mortem was conducted by a team of doctors today. The entire process was video recorded following statutory provisions laid down by the National Human Rights Commission.
“We have requested the SDJM Bhubaneswar to institute an inquiry into the matter by a magistrate. Besides, we will also have a departmental inquiry,” said Singh. He said ACP headquarters would investigate into the cases registered with the Saheed Nagar police station against the deceased and the group of people who purportedly beat him up before handing him over to the police.
A group of people had caught Kuldeep yesterday while he was trying to extort money from a mini truck driver on NH-5 near the Regional Transport Office posing as a policeman.
After they handed him over to the police, he was taken to hospital in the afternoon.
“When he fainted in the afternoon, we rushed him to hospital where he was declared brought dead,” said Jena.
Kuldeep’s father said there were no cases against his son anywhere except one land dispute case in his village and the “false case” registered in 2009 by the Lingaraj police.
However, the city police said Kuldeep was a seasoned criminal wanted in nearly 10 cases. He was involved in the firing at the inspector in charge of Balichandrapur police station in 2010 and was wanted in several dacoity and robbery cases in Bhubaneswar, Jajpur and Chandikhol.