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Daringbadi: Police behaviour is further Unlawful than Outlawed Naxals

 

Updated Wednesday July 06, 2016

Odisha, Kandhamal, Daringbadi, Naxal, Police  
 

Daringbadi of Kandhamal district in Odisha has lost its dinky, now it is dingy. Called as Kashmir of Odisha, the place has become a conflict ground with Police dickering with the life of Daringbadi while, at the same time, Naxals disarray the life of locals. The innocent soul of Daringbadi is dissimulated under issues that are divisive by objective and conflicting by nature. Dozy Daringbadi spends a drabness day and spends night with devilment. Sometimes police kill the innocent man inside jail in the name of Naxal informer and sometimes Naxals kill another inside the jungle in the name of police informer. For the modest lay man of Daringbadi, Police and Naxals have only become two draconian faces! Between bullets from the police and Naxals despondent Daringbadi survives in aversion.

 
Bibhuti Pati  
 

About 25 kilometers away from Daringbadi in Odisha's Kandhamal district is Kerubadi village. Surrounded by jungle, Keruabadi is habited by Kondh tribals, Dalits and Christians. Nirakanta Pradhan, a Christian villager, is a known Congress worker and organizer. A farmer by occupation, Nirakanta led a contented life till Bijaya Pradhan of the village informed him that the Naxals had summoned him.

The Naxals summoned Nirakanta, Indra Pradhan, Jerkay Pradhan and Binit to meet them in the jungle at night through a notice. Nirakanta along with the others set out from home after 7 p.m. and reached the jungle, not far from Kerubadi. After Nirakanta reached the jungle the Naxals tied him to a tree and beat him brutishly and heartlessly.

 

Nirakanta received multiple injuries on his leg, hips and backbone. He could not walk. His three other friends had carried Nirakanta to the village. He was bedridden for a month.

In the morning, Indra’s brother Prafulla informed Nirakanta’s family about the incident. As he was not able to walk back to his home, his family members brought him back from Indra’s house. “Nirakanta was unable to speak. Indra, Jerkay and Binit had also been beaten up. They were let off by the Naxals with the threat that if they told the police anything, they would be killed,” said Mulamati, Nirakanta’s wife as heard from her husband.

After recovering, Nirakanta gradually forgot the experience and resumed his farming activities and the organizational work of the Congress party. Along with his wife, two sons and three daughters, he engaged himself with his family activities. He was educating his eldest son Subodh as a degree engineer after availing a study loan. His younger son was a student of +2 1st year class. All were bright students who had a promising future. With the dream of giving his sons a good education and making them able human beings, Nirakanta worked round the clock.

But his resumed happiness and blissful life was again momentary.

Just as Nirakanta had recovered from the deadly assault of the Naxals and was determined to raise his children to become good human beings, the attack of the police rendered his life meaningless. The curtains over the dreams of Nirakanta’s life came down. The police turned him into a Naxalite.

That night Nirakanta had gone to sleep in comfort with his wife in order to save himself from the cold when the police took him away. Mulamati asked the Inspector about what the matter was. The police said that her husband was a Naxal. Before any more exchange of words Nirakanta had been taken away to the Daringbadi Police Station.

The next day Mulamati and her children went to the Daringbadi police Station; beat their heads before the officer-in-charge. They pleaded that Nirakanta was not a Naxal but no one heeded their cries.

Leaving his wife and children behind, Nirakanta went to the Baliguda sub-jail in a police vehicle. From Baliguda sub-jail Nirakanta was taken to Phulbani district jail where Nirakanta’s body which had endured brutal torture of the Naxals and the police, finally got separated from his soul. He breathed his last in the custody of the police.

Nirakanta was once abducted by the Naxals as a suspect police informer. With endless entreaty, Nirakanta survived the beatings of the Naxals. A few days later, after recovering, the police implicated him of being a Naxalite, imprisoned, tortured and killed him in the jail.

“The home fire is mostly unlit and we are starving. Subodh’s engineering studies were discontinued. The other children’s studies have also been wound up. Moneylenders and bank officials, after serving notices, have landed up at the door. On the basis of what proof did the police assume him to be a Naxal and can anyone explain how he died?” - questions Mulamati.

“The Naxals beat up my father and released him out of pity. They did not kill him. But what the police did as custodians of law? They termed a known Congress worker and a notable person of the village as a Naxalite and endlessly tortured him in jail! Are not the police and government responsible for the death of my father? The police are torturing the civilians. They are encountering the helpless villagers and then everything is dressed up to tag them as Naxalites,” laments Nirakanta’s son Subodh.

The case relating to the custody death of Nirakanta is now in court. The life of Mulamati and her children is about to decline amidst questions, arguments and the game of law. Tomorrow’s engineer Subodh’s mind is now aflame with the smouldering anger within him. Who can foretell Subodh’s actions in future? While Mulamati, now a labourer, is asked whether the memories of her husband return, her replies are painful further.

“The loan burden fades away the sweet memories of the past. There is no cessation to my anguish and mourning. I know, my husband won’t come back ever but the stigma of he being a Maoist would continue forever. A truly innocent person in life, he is now a Maoist after death. This has left our family isolated even though we are still in the village. Every day we have to face the strange and weird looks of our relatives and friends,” she says.

It's not an isolated story of Mulamati and her children only. There are many such victim families who narrate their story of brutal torture by the police. Death like pain of Purbamaye, Chandrika and Nimogini bears testimony to the miseries of conflict in Daringbadi.

Diagnosed with malaria, Indra was in hospital. Injections were discontinued and now he was given only capsules. Two days after returning from hospital, Indra was summoned by Naxals to meet them in the jungle. After being brutalized by the Naxals, Indra had lost his mental equilibrium for long. The physical conditions of the other two, Jerkay and Binit, also deteriorated. “When we reached the appointed place in the jungle in the evening we were asked as to why we were working for the police. Without waiting for our answers the brutal beating started. They tied us to trees and beat us with sticks and guns. We had some dispute with some villagers who informed the Naxals that we were working for the police, which led to the beating,” says Indra Pradhan.

The society recounts the stark cruelty of the Naxals. The religions mirror the primitive fire of violence. Amidst these stand the innocent inhabitants of a needy world, standing on a stack of gunpowder and weathering the assault both from the police and Naxals.

“A slight negligence costs life. The government elected by the same people has become its hunter,” says local inhabitant Surendra Sahu.

They do not know the red salute of the Naxals. They do not understand the meaning of Maoism. For whom is this Peoples’ War? Why do the police guns boom in the jungles? Why are the police and Naxals into this war?

While looking for answers to these questions the innocent man perishes in the cells of jails or gets a death sentence in the people’s court of Naxals. The innocent man, at times, takes to arms to save himself from police torture or is misunderstood by the Naxals. Evicted from his native hut he takes shelter in the city suburbs. The pitiful scenes of such anguished stories are evidenced in the villages of Daringbadi. “Torn between the Naxals' homicide and police atrocities in form of encounters, all the laws have become illegal for people like us,” says Junesh Pradhan in a plaintive voice, twice elected former Block chairman of the ruling BJD party spent over a year in jail for no reason.

Daringbadi is a Block in the Kandhamal district of Odisha. It is a repository of natural beauty, a view of sprawling landscape with ceaseless varieties of trees and shrubs and an unfathomable array of flowers. Its incomparable natural beauty, the nature integrated lifestyle of the Kondh tribals, the deities being worshipped in the caves of the mountains, the conjoining of tribal and Dalit tradition with Christianity and the churches built during the British era, all together cast a spell in the mind. Daringbadi is thus called “Kashmir or Missouri of Odisha”. Since the mid – 1990’s there has been a rapid erosion of nature yet it has not lost its attraction entirely.

The same Daringbadi has now become a different story. Today’s Daringbadi is more renowned in its present than the past. The raging battles in the verdant jungles, communal riots in churches and temples, the blood stains in the waterfalls, the reign of terror in beauty’s sacred land, poverty in the land of natural resources, starvation on a land filled with fruits and grains have created a unique identity for Daringibadi. Post 2000 Daringbadi is rather an unhappy story of man’s misery where man’s songs of life resounds as songs of agony.

[Bibhuti Pati is an investigative Journalist from Odisha.]

Other articles in the series are:

Conflict in Odisha: Innocents suffer between Naxals and predator Police

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

 
 

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