At a time when the Odisha Police is facing flak over the killing of five villagers in Kandhamal, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has raised questions over a 2013 encounter in which a Sundargarh gang leader was killed.
Dipak Sahu alias Dipu Tiger, a member of the “Pahadi Cheeta” gang, was allegedly killed on February 8, 2013 in a joint encounter by police and CRPF in the Bamdera jungle on the Odisha-Jharkhand border.
According to police, Sahu and his associate had opened fire when asked to surrender. He was killed in retaliatory fire, claimed police, adding that an automatic handgun, a carbine, 10 rounds of live bullets, a mobile handset and a motorbike were recovered from him. Sahu had 60 cases against him, including murder, armed robbery and extortion.
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The Commission after its own investigation has suggested that the police may have fired at Sahu without any provocation.
“The Commission has analysed again the report of the investigation division. Injuries received by constable Bikram Pratap Rout were of simple nature and might not have been caused because of the alleged firing by the deceased person. Hence, the theory of self-defence cannot be accepted,” the commission wrote in a letter to state government on June 27 this year. The NHRC has also asked why the next of the kin of Sahu should not be given Rs 5 lakh compensation.
“The firing pin marks on test cartridge fired from the seized weapon (of the deceased) did not match with the empty cartridges seized from the (encounter) site,” the NHRC report said, citing the FSL report.
Suggesting that Sahu may have been killed from a close range, the NHRC report, quoting the postmortem report, said all the five entry wounds on his body had a blackish abrasion colour and were circular in shape. According to forensic doctors, a gunshot injury from a close range tends to be circular in shape.
The NHRC probe also found that the medical report of the injured constable, Bikram Rout, revealed to be simple in nature and “caused by a high velocity projectile”. It has issued a notice under Section 18 of Protection of Human Rights Act to chief secretary and has sought a response by August 20.