The Orissa High Court has ordered a Crime Branch probe into the ‘mysterious’ death of an RTI activist in Kendrapara district around three years back. The court has issued the order after viewing a video clip on the death.
Body of RTI activist Ranjan Kumar Das was retrieved at a roadside agricultural field under the Marshaghai police station jurisdiction of the Kendrapara district on 1 February, 2020. Though mystery shrouded the death of the whistleblower, who had uncovered corrupt deeds of local officials, local police dismissed the murder angle and registered an unnatural death case claiming that Das died in a road accident.
RTI activists in the state alleged cover-up exercise by the local police by claiming Das was murdered for unmasking the corrupt. Later, father of the deceased, Laxmidhar Das, expressing displeasure over police investigation had knocked at the doors of Orissa High Court seeking justice.
“The petitioner had expressed displeasure over the shoddy investigation done by the Investigating Officer. The Pen-Drive attached to this file is opened in Court and this Court has seen the video clip. It transpires that the police have not given the proper thought to the video clips and the culprits therein. Indeed, the police have completed the investigation in a hush-hush manner without bringing all angles to the ambit of investigation,” Justice Dr. S K Panigrahi observed while directing the Crime Branch wing of Odisha police to take over the investigation of the case.
“In such a view of the matter, this court directs that the matter (ought to) be handed over to the Crime Branch for a denovo (starting from the beginning) inquiry regarding the death of the son of petitioner. The investigating officer is directed to hand over the charge of the investigation to the Crime Branch forthwith, which is directed to complete the investigation as early as possible, preferably within a period of three months from the date of taking over,” the single bench judge Justice Panigrahi directed in the judge.