Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Orissa has earned the dubious distinction of being the 4th state next to Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in police atrocity in the country. It however lags far behind in controlling crimes and nabbing culprits. This has been found by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
According to NHRC sources, incidences like delay in filing of FIRs and initiating criminal proceedings as per law, demanding bribe to return theft materials from the complainants, inflicting physical and mental torture to suspected accused by illegally detaining them in police custody for over days and troubling common people in various ways are on the rise in the state since last 5 years. While 226 cases of police excesses were lodged with the NHRC in 1997, in 1998 it increased to 257, followed by 315 in 1999, 412 in 2000 and 509 in 2001.
Out of the allegations leveled in 2001, most allegations relate to the arresting of innocent people in the name of law and order by police, harassment of the complainants and demanding bribe from complainants for filing FIRs. In 2000, senior officials of National Crime Research Bureau (NCRB) and Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) had conducted a survey across the country about the police atrocities. From the survey, it was found that Orissa police stood second to Bihar police in demanding bribe for filing of FIRs. While most of the allegations made with the NHRC are reported from tribal pockets like Malkanagiri, Rayagada, Boudh and Kandhmal districts in the state, among the coastal districts, police excesses have also made a sharp rise in Cuttack, Kendrapara, Khurda and Jajpur districts. Out of the 509 complaints lodged with the NHRC in 2001, 58 were from Rayagada followed by 42 from Malkanagiri, 37 from Boudh, 31 from Kandahmal, 29 from Cuttack, 27 from Kendrapara, 22 from Khurda and 18 from Jajpur district.
The commission has expressed concern over accepting of bribe by the police for filing FIRs. Despite the fact that the commission had written letters to the state govt. to check this, the latter is paying no heed. The NHRC has held the police atrocity responsible for the deteriorating law and order situation in the state and in the tribal areas in particular since last 5 years.