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Conflict in Odisha: Innocents suffer between Naxals and a Predator Police

Chandrika Nayak

 

Wednesday July 06, 2016

Odisha, Kandhamal, Daringbadi, Naxal, Police  
 

Growing Naxal activities in the forests of Kandhamal district in Odisha, specifically in Daringbadi that is called the Kashmir of Odisha, has made it the ground of conflict between the Maoists and the Police. However, the conflict has no more remained limited to Police and Maoists or Naxals but the innocent common man has become the worst victim of the increasing conflict. To the people of Daringbadi, if the villages are experiencing terror from the Naxals, Police has taken the role of a predator targeting innocents in the name of combating Maoist threat.

 
Bibhuti Pati  
 

One day, the police started combing operations in Kerubadi, a village in Daringbadi block of Odisha's Kandhamal district in India. During the operations there was exchange of fire between the police and the Naxals. With the help of villagers, the police managed to reach Daringbadi camp.

Few days later, some people from Kerubadi village were returning in a mini truck after attending a wedding feast. Most of them were elderly. On the way, the police stopped the truck and took all of them to Daringbadi Police Station. They were detained there for the entire night.

Protesting this illegal detention, hundreds of women from the village informed the local B.D.O. Manoj Swain.

 

While the women accompanied by the former BJD chairman Junesh Pradhan were going to discuss the matter with Manoj Swain, the police lathi-charged the women.

In the attack by C.R.P.F. jawans, Victoria Pradhan was wounded in the head and chest. Many other women were also critically wounded. When Junesh Pradhan and Manoj Swain opposed the act of assaulting women, the police offered the lame excuse that the protesters started throwing stones first. “The inquiry into the matter was suppressed,” deplores Junesh Pradhan.

Elderly women like Nimojini Pradhan and Siki Pradhan say, “We were discussing the issue with B.D.O. Manoj Swain and Junesh Pradhan. While sitting on the road, the police chased and beat us. They falsely accused us of throwing stones and injuring a policeman on the head. Junesh babu and we demanded that they produce the constable whose head had been injured. Why didn’t the police produce the constable? In the name of Naxals we are being persecuted. If someone fetches electric wires for use at home, police call him a Naxal, send him to jail and torture him. Taking advantage of situation, some people even bribe the police with mutton and chicken to settle personal scores on villagers with whom they have got some dispute or enmity. They file false complaints with the police and the opponents are branded Naxals by police and are sent to jails.”

Chandrika Nayak: A case in point

One day C.R.P.F. jawans entered the village, Bagadi when a volleyball match was being played in the village. It was about 10 or 11 o’clock in the morning. The police summoned some men from the volleyball field. They picked them up and took them to Daringbadi Police Station. They let go off the three of them midway. Jagannath and Sujit Pradhan were taken to the Police Station.

“We went to the police station to enquire as to why they had been detained in jail as they were not Naxals. You brought them to police station for some work and promised to leave them after it was over. Now you are calling them Naxals,” said Chandrika while explaining the incident.

Sujit Pradhan was released after two days at the police station while Jagannath was sent to jail.

Chandrika is nearly 40 and Jagannath is about 50 years old.  They have two sons. One of them is a student of class 10 in school while the other is in +2 final years. They are not pursuing their education any further due to financial problems. Chandrika works as a labourer to meet the needs. The two children have left for the city to work as bonded labourers. All their earnings are spent in meeting the expenses in the court cases of Jagannath.

“Whenever I go to meet Jagannath in jail, he requests me to make the children study hard. He doesn’t know that his two children are now labourers in the city and it is with their money that we are fighting his court cases. We have no land of our own. So how do we sustain ourselves?” says a grieving Chandrika.

Even today looking for a reply to her basic question, what a Naxal is, Chandrika goes on asking further - “Why was Jagannath taken by the police to jail? He did not beat up anyone!”

Now, after so much pain and torment Chandrika’s death does not seem far away and the future of their children is shrouded in darkness. “If ever, Jagannath returns to find me gone and the children half-educated then it is the police who are responsible for all the mishap occurred to us,” Chandrika goes around the village babbling like a demented woman. Now the question arises, if the obvious revolt in the minds of Chandrika’s two sons motivate them to take up guns then are not the police administration and the government machinery as a whole responsible for that? Everybody should understand the cry of despair of the children for release of their innocent father.

It is not the case of Chandrika’s two sons only. This is the pathetic story of many in most of the villages in this area.

[Bibhuti Pati is an investigative Journalist from Odisha.]

Other articles in the series are:

Daringbadi: Police behaviour is further Unlawful than Outlawed Naxals

In Odisha's Conflict Zone: Evils use Police and Naxals, Innocent Suffer

 
 

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