Thirteen years after a Madhya Pradesh police officer was given the Police Medal for Gallantry for killing a dacoit, the President of India has ordered cancellation and forfeiture of the medal after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) held that the encounter was fake.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Ratlam Range) Dharmendra Choudhary was additional superintendent of police posted in Jhabua in 2002 when he killed Lobhan Singh, a dacoit wanted in more than a dozen cases in MP, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Two years after the encounter, Choudhary, a promoted IPS officer, was given the medal while two police constables who were involved in the encounter were given out-of-turn promotion. The 58-year-old officer is due for retirement in two years.
In 2008, NHRC questioned the close-range encounter. While recommending review of the medal to the Ministry of Home Affairs, NHRC asked the MP government to give Rs 5 lakh compensation to Lobhan Singh’s family.
In its reply to the MHA, the state government backed its officer, holding that the encounter was genuine. The state government did not give the compensation to Lobhan Singh’s family immediately but eventually complied with the NHRC recommendation. Citing a magisterial inquiry into the encounter, the state government had held that the encounter was not staged.
In a notification dated September 21, the President’s secretariat said the “Police Medal for Gallantry awarded to Dharmendra Choudhary… is hereby cancelled and the medal forfeited under Rule 8 of the Rules governing the award of the Police Medal”. The notification does not give any reason for cancellation.
Choudhary told The Indian Express that he was yet to receive the notification and that he would hand over his medal. He said he would present his side to the government and hoped that the state government would write to the MHA to review the cancellation.