The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CBI probe in Dasham fall

Ranchi/Giridih, Feb. 20: Casting doubts on the impartiality and competence of state police, Jharkhand High Court today ordered a CBI probe into “death by drowning” of final-year Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, student Abhishek Mishra.

In a 36-page order, a division bench comprising Chief Justice M. Karpagavinayagam and Justice Permod Kohli observed that it would be better to hand over the investigation to CBI to find out the truth. “The circumstances are such that it is reasonable to infer that the police may not be able to discharge its function fairly and impartially,” held the judges.

The deceased had drowned in Dasham in December during a picnic, attended by three other friends including Ragini, a daughter of Union railway minister Lalu Prasad, a batchmate and close friend.

While chief minister Madhu Koda had turned down requests for a CBI inquiry, the state police steadfastly maintained it was nothing more than a tragic accident. The high court, however, took cognisance of a letter written by the deceased’s father, Dr S.C. Mishra, the chief medical officer of Delhi-based Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.

Mishra today hailed the court’s decision and hoped that the CBI probe would help clear the controversy. “It is a big slap on chief minister Madhu Koda’s face because he had prematurely declared it to be a case of drowning,” he said adding, “I will accept the findings of the CBI.”

One of the three survivors, Bharat Anand (26), a college dropout and petty contractor, reacted philosophically to the decision and said: “There is nothing worse than being accused of killing a friend.”

The court found it surprising the police made no attempt to examine the three friends — Vishal Pandey, Ragini Kumari and Bharat Anand — at the time of preparing the inquest report. Nor were the three available the next day when search operations were carried out at the waterfall.

“Who stopped them from meeting the parents of the deceased or prevented them from coming to the spot and where have they disappeared, have not been answered in the case diary,” the bench said.

The court also noted that Ragini, who was grief-stricken on learning that Abhishek had drowned and herself wanted to jump into the water, did not attempt to meet the deceased’s parents, despite the close relationship.

It also wondered why the three friends were whisked away to the deputy commissioner’s residence and escorted to the chief minister’s house, where they discussed what had happened for three hours.

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