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Violent retaliation by Odisha Police becomes frequent

 

Monday June 09, 2014

Odisha, Police, Lathicharge, Democracy, India  
 

"Incidents of excess police action on agitating people in Odisha and other parts of the country makes one think if the state Police and armed forces and their nexus with power hungry leadership and corrupt bureaucracy threatens the democratic rights of common people to raise their voice against injustice and pose a bigger threat to Indian democracy than anybody else."

 
Basudev Mahapatra  
 

The act of Lathicharge by Odisha Police on agitating teachers, on November 29, near the assembly house in Bhubaneswar has raised questions about the self control exercises of the state Police. This is not the first time that Odisha police resorted to be offensive on the agitators instead of managing the situation and avoid a law and order situation.

Very recently, on September 6, 2012, Odisha Police acted in a similar, or more violent, manner against the political workers of Congress party while they started marching towards the Assembly. Then there was a plea that drunken hooligans were brought in the rally to take an offending role. However, the main road leading to the Assembly became the field of rampage as both police and political workers were offensive to each other.

 

In 2011 also the police resorted to such lathicharge on agitating teachers while the assembly was in session. So, the violent retaliation by police against public agitations has been more frequent in the city of Bhubaneswar in last few years.

Provocation or lack of self control

While police justifies such retaliation as obvious consequence of provocation from the agitators side, social thinkers and civil society members points at lack of self control on part of the Police. “It seems that police take such retaliation on agitating public as an opportunity even in case of slightest provocation by the agitators,” said senior journalist and writer Prasanta Patnaik adding that “instead of taking adequate measures to prevent any law and order situation, as happened with the teachers’ agitation, the police is rather resorting to oppressive measures like lathicharge to cover up its failure.”

"There was also lack of self control at both sides. The teachers shouldn't have provoked the police and forced it to take a repressive stand. The same lack was there with Police as well. However, with such increasing police actions, the democratic movements need to find a non-provocative way," said Mr. Patnaik.

No learning from past experience

The situation that occurred on November 29 was almost a repetition of September 6 incident of clash between police and workers of a political party at the same place of the city of Bhubaneswar. In order to avoid a similar situation, police could have taken adequate measures to deal with the mob before it went out of control. And, the teachers had declared well in advance to hold the rally where over 10000 teachers were expected to participate. Why didn’t police make adequate arrangements to avoid a situation it encountered less than two months back?

Even the political leadership didn’t behave responsibly. Since the teachers had warned to come on the roads during the winter session of Odisha Assembly, the Minister of Mass Education could hold discussion with the teachers before the agitation. Unfortunately, the Minister did this only after the barbaric attack by the police and demonstration by teachers at his residence, the next day.

Threatening democracy and democratic rights

If some of the agitators behaved in a most inhuman manner in some of the recent cases, the action of police was no better as well. Be it the lathicharge on teachers last year or in the congress party rally in September this year or the most recent teachers’ rally in November 2012, the action by police in free India is probably worse than the colonial police of the British days! In no democratic nation, except some countries facing a situation of civil war or insurgency, people demanding justice are treated in such harsh manner by the state police as in India where such police action has become almost a regular phenomenon. Such incidents in Odisha and other parts of the country makes one think if the state Police and armed forces and their nexus with power hungry leadership and corrupt bureaucracy threatens the democratic rights of common people to raise their voice against injustice and pose a bigger threat to Indian democracy than anybody else.

 
 

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