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Odisha man lynched for allegedly stealing iron rods

A 35-year-old man in Balasore district succumbed to his injuries on Friday morning a day after he was assaulted in a kangaroo court over allegations that he had stolen iron rods, police said.

The deceased has been identified as 35-year-old Sandeep Dalei of Inchudipahi village.

Khantapada police station inspector Bimal Kumar Nayak said Dalei had been accused of stealing iron rods from a villager Babu Mandal’s prawn gherry (enclosure) on Wednesday.

“When the man confronted Dalei alleging that he has stolen the iron rods, the man admitted to the theft and begged forgiveness. He also returned the iron rods after the villager complained to the sarpanch Ramani Ranjan Mahalik. However, on Thursday evening, the sarpanch along with his supporters held a kangaroo court in the village where the man was tied to a tree and allegedly thrashed. The sarpanch was livid over the theft happening in his area just two months after his election,” said Nayak.

A severely injured Dalei was admitted to the Balasore district headquarters hospital on Thursday, but succumbed to his injuries on Friday morning. Police said cases under Section 302 (punishment for murder) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) have been lodged against 15 people including sarpanch Mahalik.

After his death, local residents blocked the village road demanding the arrest of the sarpanch and the people involved in the murder.

Kangaroo courts have existed for decades in Odisha, particularly in tribal districts. In October 2021, a 17-year-old boy working at a petrol pump in Kendrapara district was assaulted with metal wires and tortured after ₹1.97 lakh of currency notes at the petrol pump went missing. The boy said he had stolen the money and gave it to his father. When the boy’s father denied it, a kangaroo court forced the minor to beat his father.

On November 6 last year, a 35-year-old mason under Ranpur police station of Nayagarh district died by suicide after a kangaroo court asked him to pay a penalty of ₹10,000 and forced him to touch the feet of a woman doctor over allegations that he had misbehaved with her. According to the first information report (FIR) lodged by the mason’s wife, he could pay ₹8,500, but was deeply distressed by the kangaroo court’s verdict which led to his suicide.

Similarly in October last year, four people in Nayagarh district were made to drink menstrual blood and excreta by villagers who suspected them to be involved in black magic incidents. The victims had to flee to a nearby forest after a kangaroo court asked them to pay ₹1 lakh penalty.

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