State Police begin investigation into Richard murder

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Candle light protest against the kilinng of Loitam Richard in front of Kangla Fort, Imphal on Sunday.
IMPHAL, May 6: A special police team headed by a superintendent of police Potsangbam Dhanakumar from Manipur has started investigations into the mysterious death of Richard Loitam in Bangalore.

Richard, a resident of Uripok Yambem Leikai in Imphal was found dead in suspicious circumstances on April 18 in the hostel of Acharaya NRV School of Architecture in Bangalore.

The Manipur police team had visited the forensic team at Victoria Hospital on Friday and is slated to meet the forensic team who conducted the post mortem over Richard’s dead body on Monday.

The team has today met the concerned Superintendent of Police, who informed them that the post mortem report is yet to reach the police while assuring that a clearer picture would emerge after the receipt of the report.

They inspected room No. 225 of `A` Block of men`s hostel at the Acharya NRV Institute of Technology on Hessaraghatta-Chikkabanavara road and sought a detailed report from the Victoria Hospital forensic department. They also recorded the eyewitness` accounts of the incidents that preceded Loitam`s death at the college and hostel.

“We are awaiting the postmortem report which will give some clues on the cause of death. Once the report is handed over, we will study it and accordingly take further action,” a police officer told STOI. He said police need conclusive evidence to arrest the suspects.

“If the report demands, we will proceed with the arrests of those involved. We should find the exact reason for his death. It may be because of haemorrhage (blood clot due to internal brain injury) triggered by the accident he met with on April 15, two days before he was found dead in his room,” the officer said . The previous night, two hostel mates – Vishal Bannerji and Syed Afzal Ali – had allegedly punched Richard on his face following a tiff over watching an IPL match.

In a report published in the Tehelka magazine, many holes have been flagged in the police investigation and the report of the hostel warden.

The report said, “Richard’s uncle Bobby Loitam points out differences in the statements given to the police by Sudhakar and Saurabh. Bobby says that Saurabh has mentioned in his statement that he found Richard dead when he came back from college at 1.30 pm. Whereas Sudhakar says that Saurabh was sleeping in his hostel room till 1.30 pm, and then found Richard dead when he tried to wake him up. Sudhakar refused to speak to TEHELKA when contacted and Saurabh couldn’t be contacted as he was in Bangkok for a vacation. Richard’s family raises many questions such as why were they not informed about Richard’s death on 18 April itself? Why was there a delay in taking Richard’s body to the hospital? The claim by the college authorities that he died of injuries sustained in a road accident two days before his death has led them to believe that there has been an effort to hush up the case. According to the family, the police registered a case at 6.30 pm on 18 April and did not do a spot investigation till 19 April. The
hostel room was cordoned off and sealed for investigations on 20 April. No crime photographers or forensic experts were called in for crime scene investigation. Bobby says, ‘They didn’t even confiscate the laptop to check whether Richard was actually watching a film, as claimed by the warden.’

However, SP Prakash says, ‘We will confiscate the laptop only when it’s required. We have videographed everything and searched the room. We are waiting for the final post mortem report’. Denying allegations of a cover-up, Prakash states that there is nothing to hide and an impartial inquiry is being conducted. Richard’s family has lodged a case with the city police.”

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