Bhubaneswar: Police officials often found misusing the unfettered power vested with them to maintain peace and public order hardly face the consequences. Several such incidents related to custodial torture and police highhandedness have come to the fore in Odisha. The death of two persons in police custody in Puri and Rourkela within 24 hours sparked a state-wide public outcry.
The Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) held police personnel guilty of abusing power. A few days back, the rights body asked the state government to pay Rs1.5 lakh compensation to the family of a tribal youth from Rayagada who was killed by security forces in a fake encounter in 2016. However, the erring cops rarely got punishment for the wrongdoings.
A perusal of data from National Crime Records Bureau and Bureau of Police Research and Development revealed that most of such complaints against police officials went unheard. The victims, who moved various forums seeking action against cops, failed to get justice. The data also revealed that a large number of complaints are yet to go through trials. According to NCRB, 40 complaints had been received against police officials in 2014. Out of this, departmental inquiry was instituted in 14 cases, magisterial inquiry in one case while judicial inquiry against 21 cases. The accused cops faced trial in 10 cases in 2014. The number of complaints against police officials rose to 96 in 2015 out of which cases were registered against 95. Similarly, 55 cops were arrested in 2015. Out of 47 cops who faced trial in 2015, two were acquitted while trial is pending in other cases. 35 policemen were arrested in 64 cases registered in 2016. As per the record, police submitted charge-sheets against 25 in 2016. In 2017, the number of cases registered against cops stood at 44 out of which 14 were either quashed or stayed by courts. Charge-sheets were submitted against 12 but none was arrested in 2017.
In 2018, four police personnel were arrested and 19 cases were registered while in 2019, 52 cases were registered and four were charge-sheeted in 2019. None of the accused cops faced arrest in 2018 and 2019. Trial was completed in two cases over last six years while officers involved in these cases were acquitted. The complainants have been awaiting justice in other cases.
Gyan Ranjan Mohapatra, OP