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In Odisha’s Conflict Zone: Evils use Police and Naxals, Innocents Suffer

 

Updated Wednesday July 06, 2016

Odisha, Conflict, Police, Naxal, Tribal  
 

The growing conflict between Police and Naxals in Odisha's Kandhamal district has opened up an opportunity for some undesired elements. Political rivalry, dispute over land and skirmish between villagers are used as a ruse by some evil persons to incite the police to send innocent people to prison by terming them as Naxals. Similarly, some are informing the Naxals about the names of their rivals by calling them police informers to settle personal scores. Either way, the peace loving tribal becomes the target of the reds or the Khakis.

 
Bibhuti Pati  
 

While one travels by road to Sikarma, in Daringbadi Block of Odisha’s Kandhamal district, there is a village Gaheju in the Hatimunda panchayat. Gaheju is still inaccessible and one has to trek 8 kilometers by foot through the jungle to reach the village. Surrounded by hills and dense forest, Gaheju – a tribal hamlet is at the base of a hill.

Barsu Mallick, one of the many inhabitants of this village, was a happy man with his family comprising his old parents, wife Purbamayee, five children, younger brother Sanathan and his wife. Purbamayee’s world was smiling then.

However, eclipse entered into Purbamayee’s smile when the police stepped in to sow the seeds of iniquity in her earth.

 

Barsu, the tribal man yielding mustard and 'ragi' to make his livelihood, was accused by the police of being a Naxal and sent to jail.

Barsu’s 70 year old parents went to the Daringbadi Police station, wept and begged before the police and CRPF jawans, but it was all in vein. The heartless police did not allow Purbamayee to meet her husband. Purbamayee spent two days lying on the veranda of the police station and, finally, went back home.

While leaving, however, Purbamayee warned that she would give a fitting reply to this illegal confinement of her husband.

Purbamayee filed a suit of defamation against the police for their unjust actions. Local lawyer Manoj Panda handled the case and filed a case of defamation and sought compensation of Rs. 2 lakhs. Purbamayee also appealed for Barsu’s release. Finally, truth, justice and righteousness prevailed. Purbamayee got a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh and Barsu was released on bail.

Remembering those hard days, Purbamayee says “I used to labour for 30 days to save enough money to visit Barsu. I mortgaged a plot of land to meet the expenses related to the case. Me and my five children sustained ourselves on gruel water or even went hungry. When we don’t get enough food for ourselves throughout the year, how could we give rice and ragi to the Naxals? On the basis of such lies, the police arrested my husband.”

Purbamayee’s charges are further grave when she says, “The police know the sarpanchs and the contractors who give money and rice to Naxals, then why are they spared? My brother-in-law Sanathan and Ghasiram confiscated the rice of the Gadapur Sarpanch. Where was this rice going? When this question was asked, the police staged a fake encounter to gun them down. We are being tortured between the police and the Naxals.”

In the battle between the police and Naxals, the happiness and joy of many innocent men are being eclipsed, just as the case of Barsu and Jagannath. Powerful persons and the police are using laws unlawfully and misusing their powers to put na´ve villagers in jails.

A big challenge before the police is to identify and trace the Naxals, to differentiate, confront and isolate them from the ordinary villagers.

To counter these successfully, the police have not been able to form any definite plan and programme. They conduct flag marches only during day time and put villagers in police stations on charge of being Naxals and torture them. By doing this they only enrage the villagers and the problem gets compounded.

Many a time, owing to prejudice, even many well-known persons of the villages are sent to jail. A member of the ruling party, Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the former Chairman Junesh Pradhan has been sent to jail only to be released on bail. The twice-elected Sarpanch, Pradip, of the Congress party was sent to jail on the assumption of being a Naxal. At certain places, the corrupt local police have sent poor people to jail accusing them of being Naxals.

Political rivalry, dispute over land and skirmish between villagers are used as a ruse by some evil persons to incite the police to send innocent people to prison by terming them as Naxals. Similarly, some are informing the Naxals about the names of their rivals by calling them police informers to settle personal scores. Either way, the peace loving tribal becomes the target of the reds or the Khakis. These things need to be sorted out. The reign of terror unleashed by the CRPF jawans and the police are not the solutions to the problem, says social activist Kailash Dandapath, as well as some Christian priests, under conditions of anonymity.

[Bibhuti Pati is an Investigative Journalist from Odisha.]

Other articles in the series are:

Daringbadi: Police behaviour is further Unlawful than Outlawed Naxals

Conflict in Odisha: Innocents suffer between Naxals and predator Police

 
 

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