Jharkhand HC orders CBI probe in Bakoria fake encounter

A bench of Justice Rongon Mukhopadhyay observed that slack investigation by the state agencies has been eroding the people’s faith in the system

Ranchi: The Jharkhand high court ordered the CBI to probe the Bakoria fake encounter case on Monday and observed that the shoddy police work in the 2015 incident was eroding the people’s faith in the system and it had to be restored. 12 alleged CPI Maoists were reportedly killed by the Satbarwa police in an encounter at Bakoria, Palamu district- Jharkhand on June 8, 2015.
It is believed that besides a person named Dr. Bomb, the other 11 people who were encountered were innocent and about five of them were minors. It was shown as a fake encounter between Maoists and security forces at Bakoria.
A bench of Justice Rongon Mukhopadhyay observed that the state criminal investigation department (CID) was not moving its probe in the right direction and ordering a CBI probe was in the interest of justice.
“The bench observed that the slack investigation by the state agencies has been eroding the people’s faith in the system, which should be restored by transferring the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI),” said senior advocate RS Mazumdar, representing the petitioner Jawahar Yadav, father of para teacher Uday Yadav who was killed in the encounter as reported by Hindustan Times.
“Delivering the 22-page judgment, the bench also asked the CBI to submit its probe report to the high court,” Mazumdar said.
Mazumdar said he had pointed out several mistakes in the investigation carried out by the state agency so far. He said that independent witnesses were not examined in the magisterial inquiry in the case. He further stated out of the 12 deceased persons five were minors. He said added there was no criminal history of the deceased persons except two adding they too were not accused of very serious crimes.
“The petitioner’s counsel also pointed that statement of police officer Harish Pathak was not recorded by the investigating officer. He added Pathak was very much present in place of occurrence of the incidents and it is evident from photos taken just after the encounter. Pathak had later registered his statements before the NHRC and the CID in this regard. According to the FIR registered with the Satbarwa police station in connection with the case the OC Md Rustam received information regarding movement of CPI (Maoists) at around 9: 30 pm on June 8 2015. The OC along with a strong contingent of police force rushed to the suspected spot and started checking of vehicles on the road. The state police was also joined by the CoBRA battalion,” reported The Daily Pioneer.
Skirmishes between Maoists and police are not new in Jharkhand but many innocent people, tribals, Adivasis and innocents are being killed by state security forces every year. Sabrang India had reported how Jharkhand police killed five peaceful protestors in Badkagaon in 2016. The police had open fired on villagers protesting the forced land acquisition by a thermal power plant. The firing left five people dead, 12 critically injured and nearly 50 injured.
DGP deliberately slowed down the investigation
“The ongoing CID probe into Bakoria case courted controversy early this year after the former additional director general of CID, MV Rao, had written a letter to the home department accusing the state DGP DK Pandey of scuttling the investigating. “…DGP asked me to go slow. He also advised me not to worry about the court orders,” Rao had said in his January 1 letter, alleging that his quick transfer was a part of a larger conspiracy. Rao added that following the high court’s order, he reviewed the progress of Bakoria case,” the HT report said.
“He had clarified that statements of Harish Pathak, officer-in-charge of the police station concerned and Hemant Toppo, DIG, Palamu Range, were recorded but none of them had acknowledged that such encounter took place. “The photographs of the encounter site, dead bodies and other material available on record, the absence of blood at the encounter site and in the vehicle raised many questions which need to be addressed by a thorough probe in a professional manner,” Rao said in the letter, which was also forwarded to governor Droupadi Murmu and chief minister Raghubar Das,” the report said.
Background of the case
News reports from 2015 said that the 12 alleged Maoists open fired at the police and they were killed in retaliation. Many allege that innocents were branded as extremists and killed in a stage-managed encounter.
The National Human Rights Commission had taken suo moto cognisance of the case in 2016  and had sent a notice on June 16 to the chief secretary and DGP of state to file a detailed report in one month. The Maoists completed their inquiry and released a 12-page report but the state government did not.
The winter assembly in Jharkhand in 2017 was interrupted by Lohardaga MLA Sukhdeo Bhagat and JVM MLA Pradeep Kumar Yadav who demanded an explanation from the government.
“ADG Rao was probing in the case correctly on the instruction of Jharkhand High Court. He was transferred as the government became nervous that the probe report would expose it as a fake encounter,” Bhagat thundered as he was joined by JVM’s Yadav in pointing out that the fake Naxalite surrender of 514 youths during 2010-2012 also occurred when Pandey was the IG of CRPF (Jharkhand),” reported The Telegraph.
“In both cases, the Raghubar Das government is shielding guilty officers. We demand judicial or CBI inquiry into the encounter. The opposition will not let this issue to die. Innocent people were murdered in cold blood,” Yadav said in the report.
“Bakoria (encounter) is a grave violation of human rights that expose the hollow claim of how Jharkhand police is eliminating LWE. by year-end. Today an ADG is transferred, tomorrow the government will muzzle democracy,” said Bhagat in the report.

The Order of the Jharkhand HC may be read here: 

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