Odisha cop caught kicking tribal on video got clean chit. Rights panel nails her

The Odisha Human Rights Commission rejected the officer’s claims of innocence and observed that the inspector had clearly used force on the tribal young man which amounted to custodial violence.
Sandhyarani Jena, the inspector at Patana police station in Odisha’s Keonjhar district(Twitter/@DGPOdisha)
Sandhyarani Jena, the inspector at Patana police station in Odisha’s Keonjhar district(Twitter/@DGPOdisha)
Updated on Nov 13, 2020 09:18 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar | ByDebabrata Mohanty

A woman police officer seen thrashing a tribal young man in a widely-circulated video eight months ago should not be given a field posting for the next two years, the Odisha Human Rights Commission has said.

The Odisha police had given inspector Sandhyarani Jena a clean chit.

The commission chairperson Justice Bimal Das and member Asim Amitav Das, however, rejected the police officer’s claims of innocence and after watching the video, observed that the inspector had clearly used force on the tribal young man which amounted to custodial violence.

On March 25, Chiita Ranjan Mahanta of Talasarua village in Keonjhar district had gone to Patna police station in connection with an FIR regarding a land dispute where he was named as an accused. At the police station, inspector Jena thrashed and kicked her. She was placed under suspension after the video of the incident emerged in May and provoked nationwide outrage.

This is the second case in two days where the commission has come down harshly on police officers facing charges of violating the human rights of citizens. On Thursday, the commission ordered a police inspector to pay Rs 5 lakh in a penalty for arresting two men on a trumped-up murder charge. The two men spent eight months in jail before being released.

The commission had ordered inspector Sandhyarani Jena to pay an interim compensation of Rs 10,000 to the tribal man she was accused of beating and kicking. But she went to the high court against this direction, arguing that the commission hadn’t heard her out before ordering compensation. The high court agreed with her and told the commission to hear her version first.

The inspector denied assault and said the video was made in what she described as a melodramatic fashion. She also cited the clean chit handed to her by her superior officer, the area sub-divisional police officer who had conducted an inquiry. The report had said it was unintentional and without any malice.

The commission did not agree and called her action an affront to the positive initiative of the state government to make the force more transparent and people-friendly.

“The state police is a disciplined force and for any acts of commission and omission, the department should not be defamed. The inspector should be sent for training as to how to deal with the accused persons and in the typical situations,” the commission ruled.

The human rights commission also noted that CCTV was not working in the police station when the incident happened. “This leads to the presumption that the inspector took the opportunity for beating and kicking an accused inside the police station. It’s the responsibility of the inspector to keep it functional,” the order said.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2022