Police label innocent tribals as Maoists

Post News Network

Bhubaneswar: Five undertrials (UTs) of Jharpada Special Jail have been on hunger strike for 21 days. Orissa POST was looking into court papers to understand the undertrials’ acquittals in Nayagarh Police Training School (PTS) attack case which exposed the police’s shoddy investigation and arbitrary detentions.

PTS was among four police stations including Nayagarh armoury that was attacked February 15, 2008 by over 100 Naxalites. All the sites were attacked simultaneously in Nayagarh town in which 14 policemen had lost their lives.
PTS had four policemen killed in the attack, while seven were injured. PTS reserve inspector Juria Behera turned informant in the case and lodged a case with Nayagarh police. IIC Pramod Kumar took up the case, although a month later (March 10, 2008) the investigation was handed over to CID inspector RN Mohapatra.

Asutosh Soren, Kamlakant Sethi, Chandrabati Tukuruka and Kishore Jena and two others were charged with waging a war against the government, attacking and looting the training school (PTS). D Keshav Rao, the fifth undertrial on fast, was charged with same offences in 2011. Of the 36 witnesses, 23 of them cops, none except Juria Behera could identify the five accused in the court. The common refrain was the naxals had covered their faces and it was dark.

Seven independent witnesses who turned hostile told the court they had no knowledge of the incident. Juria, however, wrote in his FIR (paragraph 7) he could identify five accused. But, during cross-examination, he denied having written anything that way. Behera later said he was at his quarters when he got a call from a constable about the attack.
He further said sergeant Laxmidhar Behera had gone to the spot and saw from a distance the looting and ransacking of the school by the naxals. Juria’s own sergeant Laxmidhar, however, denied having met him on the night.

The police collected no circumstantial evidence to justify the involvement of the accused. No fingerprints were collected from the crime spot, the defence counsel told the court.
The police had alleged one (OR-05K-1998) of the two trucks used in the attack was bought by undertrial Kishore Jena. Truck owner Ranjit Das told the court he sold his truck to Kishore but could not identify him in the dock.
The other truck owner and his partners denied having known Kishore. Nine constables of Magazine room, who had surrendered before the naxals, could not say if one of the five was an attacker. They all said the naxals were masked.

Around 100-km from PTS in Gusmah jungle, the Tarasingh police had seized arms and ammunition superscribing “PTS NA”. Inspector Tarasingh, however, said the cops who seized arms were not sent for ballistic examination. No fingerprint was collected from them.
Witnesses present during seizure of materials at the crime scene told the police no independent witness was present when the police seized arms and also when forensic team had come to seize the material.
CID inspector Rabindranath Mohapatra admitted he never visited the Tarasingh police station in connection with the arms seizure case. He said Juria never told him that he could identify the attackers. He could not say whether the attackers shouted slogans such as “Governmentku pongu Karidebu” (We’ll immobilise the government).
The doctors who treated the injured cops said the injuries could have been caused by broken glasses in a vehicular accident.
The court observed: “The armoury of PTS was looted and four policemen killed but the question that remains unanswered is who is the mastermind”. It found no clinching evidence against the five undertrials and they were acquitted.
The five accused had been acquitted in Nuagaon police station attack and also in Nayagarh police station attack. Some are facing charges on two counts while Azad has seven cases pending against him. He had surrendered in 2011 before the then Andhra Pradesh DGP Arvinda Rao. The undertrials have been seeking speedy trial of their cases.