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MP cop stripped of gallantry award for ‘orchestrating’ fake encounter

Dharmendra Choudhary was posted at Jhabua as its additional superintendent of police in 2002 when he gunned down Lohan, a criminal wanted by the law enforcement agencies of three states.

bhopal Updated: Oct 05, 2017 21:25 IST
Punya Priya Mitra and CB Singh
Punya Priya Mitra and CB Singh
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Gallantry award,President,Medal
Police officer Dharmendra Choudhary held that he had gunned down Lohan — a notorious criminal — in self-defence. (AFP photo)

An IPS officer posted in Madhya Pradesh has been stripped of a police award presented by the President after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) charged him with orchestrating a fake encounter.

A gazette notification issued on September 30 stated that a gallantry award accorded to deputy inspector general (Ratlam) Dharmendra Choudhary was being taken back in keeping with the new development. “The police medal for gallantry… is hereby cancelled and forfeited under rule 8 of the regulations governing the award,” the document issued by the President’s secretariat said.

Choudhary was posted at Jhabua as its additional superintendent of police in 2002 when he gunned down Lohan, a criminal wanted by the law enforcement agencies of three states – Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan – in connection with 11 heinous offences.

Police said 22-year-old Lohan, a resident of Mehendikhera village, had a reward of Rs 15,000 on his head.

On December 5, 2002, then Jhabua superintendent of police RL Borna was informed by constables Mansingh and Sanjay Pratap Singh that Lohan and two others were heading towards Pitol on a motorcycle. Following this, a police team led by Choudhary cordoned off the area and launched a hunt for Lohan.

Choudhary and his men soon spotted Lohan and his accomplices, who tried to escape. The criminal reportedly tripped while trying to clear a hurdle, and began shooting at the approaching policemen. He was killed in the shootout that followed.

The encounter was found to be “genuine” by a magisterial inquiry as well as an internal probe, and the two constables were rewarded with out-of-turn promotions. Choudhary, for his part, received a gallantry medal from then President APJ Abdul Kalam on the state home department’s recommendation.

A few years on, the NHRC launched a fresh investigation into the encounter after some human rights activists dubbed it as fake. The new probe found the allegations to be true, and a report was submitted to the President’s secretariat. The matter was heard, and the authorities concerned decided that the award would have to be reclaimed.

Speaking to local reporters at Ratlam, Choudhary said he was yet to receive any official communiqué in connection with the award reclamation. He refused to answer queries posed by the media, stating that he would prefer defending himself on an official forum.

HT failed to get through to the police officer in an individual capacity because both his mobile phones were switched off. He did not respond to phone messages either.

Director general of police Rishi Kumar Shukla refused to comment on the possibility of action being taken against Choudhary. “You will have to ask the NHRC if it’s a fake encounter case. I don’t know, but I will look into it. The medal has been taken back, and that’s it. The officer will most probably make a representation, which I will then forward to the central government. This is a very old case. We stopped the practice of recommending gallantry award for encounters some time ago,” he said.

First Published: Oct 05, 2017 20:58 IST