A suspended police sub-inspector was sentenced to death and seven others, including a constable, were sent to life imprisonment on Tuesday in a fake encounter case of 2002 in which three youths were killed.
A fast-track court pronounced the punishments 12 days after the eight persons were convicted in the case on June 12. The court awarded capital punishment to the then additional in-charge of Shastri Nagar police station, suspended sub-inspector Shamse Alam for the fake encounter in a bid to win gallantry award. Suspended constable Arun Kumar Singh, and six shopkeepers of Sammelan market at Ashiana Nagar Kamlesh Kumar Gautam, Rajeev Kumar Ranjan, Soni Rajak, Kumud Kumar, Rakesh Kumar Mishra and Anil were awarded life-term.
Sources said for the first time a police officer had been awarded capital punishment in a fake encounter case in Bihar. Alam is at present lodged at Beur jail.
Three youths Vikash Ranjan, Prashant Singh and Himanshu Yadav were killed in the fake encounter on December 28, 2002 at Sammelan market of Ashiana Nagar in west Patna. Sensing the gravity of the case, the state government had ordered a CBI probe two months after the incident.
Delivering the judgment, the fast-track court judge, Ravi Shankar Sinha, said: The police officer staged the fake encounter in a bid to get gallantry award. The court also observed that the statement given by the convicted cops were concocted. The suspended policemen had claimed that the encounter started after the youths opened fire. Had there been firing from the victims, there would not have been a huge crowd near the market as was the case in this incident, the court observed.
The CBI had lodged FIR in this case on February 18, 2003 and the chargesheet was filed on March 29, 2003. During the probe it came to light that the suspended sub-inspector had gunned down the youths with an aim to get gallantry award for killing dacoits. Even the medical report went against the suspended policeman as it said that bullets were fired at the victims from a distance of five feet, which is virtually impossible in an encounter.
The court also took into account the fact that one of the victims, Prashant, had met Alam a day ahead of the incident in connection with police verification as he had qualified for a job in Indian Navy. The officer could not claim that he did not know the boy because he had spent quite some time with him just a day ahead in connection with police verification, the court observed. It also said that instead of taking the three youths, brutally thrashed by shopkeepers, to a hospital for treatment the policeman chose to shoot at them, reflecting mal-intention and some sort of connivance with the shopkeepers who had beaten up the trio.
According to official records, a tiff over faulty bill in a telephone booth led to altercation between the victims and shopkeeper Kamlesh Kumar Gautam. With help of other shopkeepers of the market, Gautam locked the boys behind a grille after severely thrashing them and informed the police that the trio had come to the market to loot them.
Suspended sub-inspector Alam, the then additional station house officer of Shastri Nagar police station, reached the spot with suspended constable Arun. Without finding out the details, Alam fired at the boys indiscriminately, leading to their death.