Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
“Free, fair and bold comments against injustice and crime are essentially required to stop them and as such, greatest service to people”, thus declares Sri Narayana Patra, a pensioner of Orissa Government in the cover of his unique serial work captioned “criticism”. Categorizing his work as “intellectual’s Digest”, Sri Patra claims that it deals only with big issues of life and liberty. He spends about half of the money he gets as monthly pension on this work. On a bi-cycle and seldom on a moped unworthy of road, he moves from place to place, meets person after persons to circulate Xeroxed copies of ‘Criticism’ that he compiles and publishes every month. He doesn’t charge any price for the service; but he insists that contents thereof be read and cogitated.
Sri Patra has been serializing the “issues” raised by him. Issue No.275 may be taken as an instance of how fearlessly he raises a point that perniciously affects our system but perilously accommodated by the society. There are two marble plates on two different places of the building that houses the Court of the sub-ordinate Judge and Assistant Sessions Judge at Talcher. The first plate depicts that the “Court” was “inaugurated” by Sri Ranganath Mishra, Chief Justice of Orissa High Court (as he then was) on 30day of September, 1982; and the 2nd plate depicts that the “Court building” was “opened” by the same Sri Mishra when he was Chief Justice of India on the 25day of December, 1990. No body in the State has ever bothered over these two plates depicting the two events. But, for Patra, this is a point to be cogitated. “For the inauguration of the Court, the visit of the Chief Justice of a State High Court may be understandable, but was it so much necessary that the Chief Justice of India was to travel on huge government expenses to his home State to open the court building of a sub-ordinate judge?” he questions.
He wants the society to dig out the details of the engagements of the CJI on the 2day or the phase of his tour covering that day so that it could be determined as to whether or not the Talcher event was used as a fetcher of official T.A. and D.A. even as he was transacting his private works. “If the Judges/ Chief Justice of the Supreme Court visit home State to attend private works by arranging official engagements, should people be blamed for raising accusing fingers to the integrity and honesty of such judges?” he wonders. To him, even though in the judicial sector, extravagant and avoidable expenditure is a crime against the country that is reeling under neck-deep debts.
When a junior member of the State Secretariat staff, Sri Patra was marked for his courage to criticize promulgation of emergency in the Country and had exhausted all his savings from salary in authoring and publishing highly documented materials against the dark design under the nickname of ‘Furufura’. Under this nickname, he had authored earlier in 1970 and 1972 respectively two revealing books on the threat to Indian democracy from the pseudo socialists, the first titled ‘Samajvad Orof Ekachhatravad’ and the second, ‘Samajvad Hin Ekachhatravad’. Much before Sri Jayaprakash Narain thought of leading his famous movement against the central misrule, Patra was the only one in whole of the country who had come up with a clarion call to save democracy from the evil design of the sycophants of Mrs.Indira Gandhi.
His book, ‘Ganatantra Banchao’ (save democracy), published on the 1st October 1973, was the best available documented material from which the later opponents of emergency had derived sufficient intellectual support. Born to a lower middle class family, Patra, working as a low-paid government servant as he was, preferred to work incognito and hence, the pro-democracy and anti-emergency activists could not know who really was ‘Furufura’, author of the aforesaid books. The post-emergency political climate gave birth and berth to innumerable idiots in the political arena of the country but, Patra, the real father of conscious battle against the forces of emergency remained beyond every body’s knowledge and continued as a low-paid government servant in the Secretariat. After his retirement on superannuation, he is now writing in his own name: Narayan Patra.
Age has written its mandate on his body. But his mind has remained ever sharp against injustice. Frail but fearless, he personifies the consciousness of his soil. Whoever is able to peruse ‘Criticism’, is able to know as to what extent a man can burn himself in order to light up the road to a true democracy.
We strongly recommend him to the patriots of our land.