Thursday, February 24, 2011

[HumJanenge] Police barbarism has no end in Orissa

Police barbarism has no end in Orissa



Dear friends,


All of us are quite aware that maiost influence is rising day and day across the state. Often officials and police informer are being murdered by Maoists. The state also witnessed a number of causalities due to Maoist violence  like death of innocent tribals, destruction of Govt. road and buildings and police stations etc. To curb maoist challenge, the State Govt. has sought both financial and para-military support from Central Govt.    . The State Govt. has also appointed SOG jawans in naxal-influenced areas to counter  maoist attacks. In these areas, the police stations have been well-equipped with arms and ammunitions, modern devices and a good number of paramilitary personnel to counter naxal attacks. The district administration is also conducting Jana Sampark Abhijan  with a view to restore faith of the common people in administration and sensitizing the people about development programmes and anti-poverty schemes etc. Despite these measures, naxal violence has not been checked in our state. Naxals also got massive  support from the common people mostly the tribal communities. Naxals are seen  as demi-gods  or messiahs  before the people.


Why it happens so?. As we see to-day, the police has the same colonial tendency to suppress the common people, torture them, misbehave, manhandle and above all charge them with false cases. Once upon a time, Justice Mulla had said that the Police is the organized hooligans in the hands of the Govt. The police has the history of misusing power and misbehaving and manhandling not only the common people but also the civil society members in the name of protecting law and order. The cases of police barbarism and atrocity have been heavily criticized by the mass media, human rights groups and also the civil society organisations in the country. The police highhandedness has created  a sense of hatred and ill-will among the common people  against the police system. Anti-police mindset of the people is quite visible in the state, as the  people extend their support  to the naxals or remain silent when the naxals attack  and even burn a police station.  Keeping in view the mindset of the common people, the police administration is taking various measures to win over the confidence of the people. The police has been given ample power  to counter maoist movement in the state.


On other hand, it has also been reported that there is widespread complaint that in the name of curbing Maoism, the police arrests the innocent people and social activists  and put them in jail. The police has been using the excuse of containing Maoism as a tool  to  take action against the people who protest against the corrupt practices of the system. Though the higher authorities of the police administration speak of reform of the police set-up, the reform does not reach at all to the lower level.  Rather, by using the very force which  has been given to the police  to counter  Maoists, the police has been playing  the game of terrorizing the common people. If some one  raises his voice against their  highhandedness and corrupt  practices he is threatened with dire consequences. As it has been noticed the police continue to harbour the old colonial mindset to dictate to the people as per its whims and fancies and take action against  them  if anybody ever registers a protest.


Let me share an event that I experienced while visiting Thakurmunda Police Station  in Mayurbhanj, a tribal majority district fully covered under the Scheduled Areas in Orissa. I was there in the capacity of a resource person for a training programme on RTI Act.


On 14.2.2011, a group of local  people  visited Thakurmunda Police Station to seek some information, which are supposed to have been proactively disclosed and kept ready for public inspection with effect from the 12th October 2005 as mandated under Section 4 of Right to Information Act 2005. They went straight to meet Mr. Bhagawan  Jena, OIC and appraised him about the purpose of their  visit i.e.,  to get  some suo motu information under Section 4 of the RTI Act. The OIC suddenly got irritated and shouted at them  saying that no information was available in his office and asked them  to get out. They returned back from there in silence and empty handed.


When they were on the way back, a police jeep carrying SOG Jawans reached at them   and asked them to  visit the police station again. The said jeep carried them  to the police station and the Jawans put the them before the OIC, who immediately started hurling abusive words at them. When they enquired to know about the reason of his misbehavior, Mr. Jena suddenly became furious and scolded them in an aggressive manner saying "bloody nonsense, you are bloody Maoists, I will teach you a lesson" and the like. Then he used these very words like "sala besi dekhei hauchha, netagiri dekhauchha". For one hour at a stretch he continued his unruly and abusive gestures and utterances against them. They  were not allowed  even to open their mouth to speak a word. They  also could not understand why he dealt with them  so savagely.


When the OIC was at the peak of his infuriated rage against the group of RTI users I along with two social activists reached the Police Station.  When I  was about to sit on a vacant chair lysing in front of the OIC Mr. Jena, the latter started abusing me with vulgar language. His words  were "You are a bloody nonsense; Who are you  to sit here? Is it proper to sit before a police officer without permission? What is your academic qualification? How dare you to sit before me like this? When I started explaining him about the purpose of the visit  and asked him to know about the arrangements made in the Police Station to provide the information under RTI Act, the OIC who was at the peak of his irritation at that moment retorted, 'Why shall we provide the information? It is SP office, which should provide the information? Who are you to ask for information? And so on and so forth. The OIC also meted out similar kind of unruly misbehavour to other fellow activist friends Jyotiram Dash and Brahmanand Swain using abusive words and scolding them. The OIC also called the SOG Jawans to heckle Jyotiram Dash, but Mr.Dash vehemently protested against it. Still one of the SOG Jawans physically assaulted Jyotiram. After scolding and threatening the RTI activists for abut an hour to his fill, Mr.Jena the OIC asked us to leave the Police Station.


This is one of a series of cases where the police not only misbehaved but manhandled  the common people and even conscious citizens in the state. Such attitude and behavior  discourage the people from  supporting  the police. As I understand, unless the police changes  its attitude  and behavior towards the people,  fighting the naxal challenge with armed forces but without the support of  common people and  civil society will end up in big zero.




Pradip Pradhan


Date- 24.2.2010


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