In such a situation, the
ongoing tribal people’s movement that, at times, appeared like armed
uprising looked more obvious and relevant than those motivated by any
other force or intent.
Situated on the borders of Odisha and
Andhra Pradesh, Narayanpatna remained a centre of tribal movement and
leftwing extremist activities as well. The place turned a major news
point when MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly), elected from Laxmipur
assembly constituency, was abducted by leftwing extremists in the year
2012. The abductors alleged that the state and, particularly, the MLA
grossly failed in performing upto expectations of people and in keeping
the promises he made before people.
It’s to be noted that abducted on March
24, 2012, MLA Jhina Hikaka was in captivity of leftwing extremists for
32 days till he was released on April 26, 2012.
If the police sources are to be believed,
the forces are alerted about some sort of extremist activities in
southern and western Odisha that go to polls on April 10, 2014. After
such inputs, the state police and the Central para-military forces have
intensified combing operations in forest areas of south Odisha that
continue to remain Maoist strongholds.
While leftwing extremist activities are
certainly a concern, the other concern is police terror. Termed by
police as Maoist cadres or Maoist supporters, many tribal youth have
left their villages and hide in the forests fearing attack or arrest by
Dinu Sirka of Jhodipadar village and Jira
kendruka of Dumsil village are two such cases. Both are now hiding in a
remote forest village as they are in police target. When asked how many
tribals live hiding in the forest, they said, “Hundreds like us are
living in the forests and remote villages to escape police action. We
are all innocents but police terms us Maoists!”
Initially, the tribal people raised their
voice against such acts of the police saying they were all wrong and
oppressive. But they didn’t get any support from anybody in the police
or, even, the administration. On the other hand, tribal people were
taken to camps, put to torture, jailed and had to face trials for years.
So, the tribal voice got suppressed and a courageous tribal community
had to live in fear to escape illegal and immoral police action that the
system sees as lawful.
As the realities look like, conflict keeps
growing in the forests and tribal hinterlands of Narayanpatna. Innocent
tribals, who just want to live peacefully but with dignity by depending
upon the forests and the forest lands, are being sandwiched between the
forces that are parties in the conflict.
In such a situation, expecting a free,
fair and peaceful election in the place of conflict sounds to be quite
unreal because police terror added with administrative apathy has
alienated the ordinary people from the whole system of governance.
Now the question is, how can people be
involved in the electoral process and voting by ordinary people and,
particularly, these indigenous people be ensured, which is vital in any
Perhaps the only answer to
ensure people’s participation in the electoral process is to adopt an
inclusive approach than a suppressive one. Huge force deployment would
only frighten the voters. Instead, allowing free convergence between
people and political leadership would help getting people into the
electoral process and politics.