Rajasthan: Congressman joins call for CBI probe in Prajapati encounter case
Two senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and at least one Congress leader in Rajasthan have demanded a CBI probe into Kamlesh Prajapati encounter case after a couple of videos that went viral on social media cast serious doubts over the police version of the events leading to the notorious criminal’s elimination in Barmer last Thursday.
Barmer police claimed to have killed Prajapati, a notorious smuggler booked in seven cases in the district and also for a hit and run case in Pali, in retaliatory fire during a raid on Thursday night when he tried to escape after attempting to kill one police man.
However, two videos of the alleged encounter of 6.25 and 10.08 seconds in lengths respectively, circulating on social media on Sunday, show the cops broke the windshield of the gangster’s car in the outskirts of Barmer city under Sadar police station area, pulled him out and bundled him into another vehicle. Prajapati is not seen firing in the video but one policeman is seen firing three rounds at him. The video clips were allegedly sourced from the CCTV footage which captured the encounter. However, no authority has confirmed its authenticity at this stage.
After the videos emerged, both the Congress and the BJP leaders accused the Barmer police of killing Prajapati in cold-blood and demanded a fair inquiry into the alleged encounter.
Union minister and BJP parliamentarian from Jodhpur, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said it was “police killing” done in the name of an encounter.
“...It is seen in the video that Kamlesh was first cornered and beaten and then shot. There were no signs of any fight at the scene. This is a very sensitive and suspicious episode... ”.
Shekhawat alleged that the state’s Ashok Gehlot government and the police could not be trusted therefore a CBI inquiry should be ordered.
“Police are acting at the behest of the chief minister, therefore the investigation of any state-level investigative agency cannot be trusted,” he tweeted.
Leader of opposition (LoP) in Rajasthan assembly Rajendra Rathore said Barmer police had planned Kamlesh Prajapati’s killing.
“Gehlot saheb has always been ready to conduct a CBI inquiry. I am requesting the chief minister to show sensitivity... ...case should be investigated by the CBI,” he said, while pointing out that Prajapati’s community was very angry with the police over the incident.
Former Barmer MP and Congress leader Manvendra Singh said it a “fair investigation” followed by “punishment to the guilty” alone will restore faith in the conduct of state police.
“It is clear from the CCTV footage that whatever the police leadership told me is far from the truth,” he said. He also referred to two instances of doubtful police encounters of criminals Chatur Singh and Anandpal Singh, in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
“I am requesting the chief minister to conduct a fair investigation of this case according to the public sentiments,” Singh added.
Congress MLA from Barmer’s Pachpadra constituency too had termed the encounter as fake and demanded a CBI probe two days ago on April 24.However, an official from the state home department, who didn't wish to be named, said that the demand for a CBI probe was not being considering as of now.
Barmer superintendent of police (SP) Anand Sharma told HT that the National Human Rights Commission’s directives for dealing with police encounter cases was being followed and a judicial inquiry in the case had already begun.
The NHRC directives say that a death in police encounters would not be considered an offence if it is caused in the exercise of either the right to private defence or of power of arrest, under Section 46 of the CrPC. The four point guidelines by the commission mandate that all encounter cases are entered in police register, investigated by an independent agency.