Four SOG jawans arrested for killing Odisha youth

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Komna (Nuapada)/Bhubaneswar, Aug 21:

Komna police has arrested four jawans of the Special Operations Group (SOG), the elite anti-Maoist forced raised by the Odisha government, in connection with the death of the youth Chittaranjan Sahu who was allegedly beaten to death at an SOG camp inside the Sunabeda Sanctuary.

police torture

The body of the youth was recovered from the Dhakili forest in the district this morning, five days after he went missing from the SOG camp, on the basis of information provided by the arrested SOG jawans, Nuapada SP Pinaka Mishra said.

Making a statement on the incident in the Odisha Assembly this afternoon, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for the family of the deceased. He said criminal cases will be registered against the four SOG jawans.

The government will also bear the expenses on the treatment of the two other youths injured in the assault by the security personnel, he said.

The Chief Minister said the local judicial magistrate would probe the incident.

Curiously, while the Nuapada SP told reporters in the morning that the victim’s family would be paid a compensation if Rs 5 lakh, the Chief Minister announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh!

Anger and outrage ran high among locals in Komna, Khariar and Nuapada after Chittaranjan’s body was recovered this morning. Sahu’s body was taken to the Komna post-mortem centre amid tight police security for conduct of autopsy.

People of Komna and Khariar are observing an indefinite bandh today. While shops and establishments remained closed, movement of traffic was affected in these towns. Protests have also been reported over the incident at several places in Nuapada district, including at the district headquarters town of Nuapada.

Locals in both the towns have given bandh calls on a five-point charter of demands, which include Rs 20 lakh as compensation to the family of the deceased, treatment cost to those undergoing treatment after being tortured at the SOG camp and action against security personnel responsible for the torture that caused the death of the youth. All political parties are supporting the bandh.

Five platoons of policemen have been deployed at Komna to maintain law and order. South Western range DIG S Shyni and Commandant SOG have arrived at Nuapada to conducta  probe into the alleged death due to torture at the SOG camp.

On Wednesday, over 500 locals had gheraoed the Komna police station while schools and colleges, shops and establishments had downed their shutters in protest.  Locals had blocked roads and the national highway connecting Raipur with Gopalpur, leaving hundreds of vehicles stranded on either side of the Highway.

Allegedly, personnel of the Special Operations Group (SOG) engaged in anti-Maoist operations had picked up three local youth who were on a sight-seeing visit to the Sunabeda sanctuary and had subjected them to torture at their camp. While one of them succumbed to the torture, another was shifted to VIMSAR, Burla for treatment as his condition deteriorated. The third, being a minor, was kept at the Komna police station.

While SOG personnel have admitted that they had detained him and claim that he managed to slip away from the camp, villagers allege that the security men have beaten him to death and have thrown away his body.\

Meanwhile, the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has asked the additional director general (ADG) of the Human Rights Protection Cell (HRPC) of Odisha police for a report on the alleged custodial death.

Acting on a petition filed by lawyer and human rights activist Prabir Das, OHRC asked the ADG, HRPC to file a detailed report on the incident by October 1.

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