OMFED WORKERS’ STRIKE STORMED INTO SILENCE

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

OMFED workers’ strike against unfair labor practices has been stormed into silence.

The workers union has filed an FIR with the Chandrasekharpur Police Station against the Chairman-cum-Managing Director Hrushikesh Panda IAS for having organized and executed a brutal attack on its members by hundreds of unknown hooligans posing as milk producers.

Panda’s purpose was to terrorize the striking workers and fizzle out their protest against unfair labor practice, the union has alleged.

Officers of Chandrasekharpur Police Station were present on the spot along with the police force and were eyewitness to the attack.

The FIR has been taken into cognizance and a case has been registered against Panda under sections 147 (for rioting), 148 (for rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 323 (for voluntarily causing hurt) and 324 (for voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means). The case number is 241/08.

Along with Panda, the case covers officials like marketing manager Basant Kumar Misra, general manager Swarup Ranjan Pattanaik and transport manager Subasis Satpathy.

Tirtol MLA Chiranjib Biswal and three others namely Jameswar Nayak, Jagat Ballav Mahapatra and Kanhu Charan Lenka are also covered by the case under the same charges.

The attack was so well planned and barbaric that the terror struck workers could not dare to stand any further on their basic demand for regularization of their employment and with six of them crying in pain amidst pools of blood, they acquiesced into Police Commissioner Lal’s intervening advice to call off the strike on recall of the order of transfer that the management had vindictively served on five of their leaders.

Panda brandishing a body language of personal victory declared on the spot that the milk producers (in the instant event, the attackers on the unarmed and nonviolent workers) would be paid all the money that OMFED should have paid to procure milk had the workers not resorted to strike.

Workers suspect that the money Panda has pledged to the milk producers sans any real supply of milk is nothing but a direct bribe given to the hooligans for wrecking havoc on their lives.

There is a nexus between milk producers and Panda and the money forming its crux exceeds several crores in Indian Rupees, they say.

OMFED is such a phenomenon where milk is purchased, milk is treated, milk is transformed into milk-products and milk and milk-products are packaged and marketed. When the procured milk is not directly marketed in its original form, there is ample opportunity to misappropriate any amount without fear of exposure, as loss in transit during phases of transformation is not meticulously estimable.

Over and above this inbuilt immunity, false records of payment of money against any quantity of milk shown in collection but not really collected is also a promising source of clandestine income if the concerned milk producer / supplier is ready to offer his / her cooperation in preparation of such false records. The money thus ill-gotten is supposed to be mutually shared and thus a nexus between public sector purchaser and the supplier grows. OMFED is a public sector firm.

To check such misappropriation in factory or office level, the post of Managing Director was created. To check such misappropriation in the level of Managing Director, the post of Chairman was created. But Hrushikesh Panda is the Managing Director as well as the Chairman. Who checks whom when misappropriation, if any, takes place? To check misappropriation at both these levels, there is the post of a Secretary in the administrative department. But Hrushikesh Panda is himself the Secretary! He being a senior IAS officer, and the idea behind retaining IAS officers being availability of their unbiased advice to State administration on intricate issues of public interest, he should have declined to be posted in these three top most posts of administering OMFED. But he is enjoying being three-in-one and the result is blood shedding to defeat a workers’ strike.

The bloody assault on the workers that gave a sense of victory to Panda was so ruthless that Chandrasekharpur Police station collected Binod Behera, Bipini Muduli, Surendra Pradhan, Sukanti Barik and two others namely Rashmi and Basanti, all workers who have been compelled to distress sale their labor all these days spanning decades, from their place of sit-in-strike in serious conditions and organized their medical treatment in the Capital Hospital.

Binod and Sukanti, severely injured in the skull, are slated for brain scanning, Police says.

The poor fellows, serving OMFED for decades, have been demanding job security. An IAS officer, who has grabbed all the three top most administrative posts of OMFED is denying them that security. These illiterate but innocent workers are being compelled to distress sale their efficiency to the public sector undertaking for decades. They need regularization of their job so that they can work under a recognized condition of service. But the said IAS officer, who has grabbed all the decision taking posts in the highest level, wants to keep them in sub-human condition and as they challenge, they have been brutally beaten up and have been forced to call off their strike at dragger point.

Is it not time for the Chief Minister to review the role of this IAS officer vis-à-vis the terror-struck workers’ precarious lives in OMFED?

Or is it his brand of administration that this IAS officer is just executing?

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