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
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
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
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