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Conflict in Odisha: Revenge angle gives twist to the encounter story

 

Monday June 09, 2014

Odisha, Maoist, Conflict, Police, Encounter  
 

"There is a fresh twist to the story of encounter by Odisha Police with tribal and human right bodies claim that three of the persons killed were social activists and whistleblowers without any link with the Maoist movement."

 

HNF Correspondent

 
 

When the Odisha police is claiming huge credit for its success in combating Maoist menace by killing five persons allegedly associated with the Maoist movement, there have been strong objections raised by civil society bodies and human rights organizations like the Kandhamal based Banabasi Surakhya Parisad, Odisha Adivasi Mancha and Campaign Against Fabricated Cases, Odisha to what the police claims about the encounter. Briefing the press, on November 17, 2012, in the south Odishan city of Brahmapur, about their disagreement in this regard, members of the aforesaid organisations said that the death of 5 persons in police encounter on 14 November 2012 at Bhaliaguda forest area in the border of Gajapati and Kandhamal was another instance of killing of innocent Tribal and Dalit people in the name of encountering Maoists.

 

In a statement issued by the representatives of the said organizations, it is stated that three of the deceased Ayub Pradra of Bujuli Village, Syamson Majhi of Bhinguruiguda and Ghasiram Bagsingh of Mardipanka village under Brahmanigam Police Station, shot dead by police gun, were rather known for social activism and taking the whistleblower role to stop malpractices by some elected PRI members.

Deceased were Whistleblowers

As explained in the release, deceased Ghasiram Bagsingh was a PRI (PanchayatiRaj Institution that facilitates local self governance through political representation in India) member elected as Samiti Sabhya (Society Member) of Saramuli Gram Panchayat (GP) in the last PRI election. He along with Syamson Majhi and a group of local people raised voice against the malpractices by Sarpanch of the same Gram Panchayat (GP), Smt. Kamala Patmajhi, her husband Karma Patmajhi, Ex. Sarapanch, and their family members who were involved in illegally deporting the rice supplied by the government for distribution among BPL (Below Poverty Line) category people of the GP. They lodged an FIR at Brahmanigam police station in this regard. Basing upon the FIR, a case was registered, police seized the rice and, on October 10, 2012, Sarpanch Kamala Patmajhi was arrested and sent to jail. However, her husband was granted anticipatory bail from the High Court.

The other deceased Ayub Padra worked for true implementation of NREGA and Forest Right Act in Godapur and Hatimunda GPs. He also supported Saramuli people’s movement against illegal deportation and sale of BPL rice by the Sarapanch and her family. It is to note that Karma Patmajhi, husband of Sarapanch Kamala Patmajhi, had some personal grudge on Ayub because the former was defeated by Ayub’s uncle Luko Sunamajhi while fighting as a Samiti Sabhya (Society Member) candidate in the 2012 GP elections for Godapur GP.

Was it all a Revenge Game?

As alleged in the release issued by the aforesaid human rights organisations, Karma Patmajhi and his family members threatened to kill the whistleblowers, who fell victim to the recent Police encounter, for disclosing the BPL rice scandal and other political differences. It’s also said that the deceased members had lodged an FIR in this regard, expressing the possible dangers to their lives, at the Brahmanigaon Police Station.

In the release, the representatives of the said organisations expressed their suspicion about a connection of the Sarapanch and her family members while saying that “the Sarpanch and her family members had alleged falsely before the Odisha Maoist Party against the deceased persons as they were collecting rice from them every month.”

Quoting to have known from some reliable sources, the release said that the deceased persons were directed, through letter and phone call, by the Odisha Maoist Party leaders to attend the Maoist camp for a trial. Accordingly the said three persons went to the Maoist camp passing Mohana and were shot dead by the SOG and Police forces while returning after clarifying the Maoist leaders about the whole affairs.

Judicial probe demanded

While condemning the whole episode of police action of November 14 as a fake encounter, members of the rights organisations demand a judicial probe by a sitting judge of Odisha High Court. Such a demand has also been made by Dandapani Mohanty, one of the interlocutors nominated by Maoists to participate in the negotiation for release of abducted Italian citizens.

Demanding to consider the incident as a case of murder by police, members of the tribal and human right organisations also asked for compensation of Rs.10 lakh to each of the deceased family.

 
 

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