Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

An era of political killing has commenced in Orissa under the BJD-BJP coalition government, alleged independent member Shambunath Nayak in the Orissa Legislative Assembly on 17 Feb.2006 criticizing Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for his refusal to arrest Rajat Kumar Rai, Officer-In-Charge of Charmal Police Station even though he is the kingpin behind the ghastly murder of Harekrushna Pradhan, leader of Congress Party and Chairman of Rairakhol Panchayat Samiti of Sambalpur.

In a written reply to an adjournment motion moved by Narasinga Mishra, MLA from Loisinga and others on the subject of this murder by the local police and the alarming Law and Order situation in the State, the CM told the house that on basis of the allegation of the son of the deceased and taking intensive public stir over the issue into account, “Sub-Inspector Rajat Kumar Rai, OIC, Charmal P.S., Constable Sheshadev Pradhan, Constable Gunanidhi Behera, Constable M.R.Podha and Constable S.K.Behera have been placed under suspension and inquiry has been ordered into the incident by Revenue Divisional Commissioner, Sambalpur”.

The CM told the House that a person from Charmal P.S. area was killed by a wild bear on 14 Feb.2006. “The bear was moving near the dead body and was attacking anyone approaching the dead body”. Even though “the local forest staff, OIC of Charmal P.S., Sarapanch of Bharatpur G.P. along with around 500 villagers reached the spot to retrieve the dead body and the forest staff exploded crackers to scare away the wild bear, it did not yield results. Rather another person was injured by the bear”, the CM informed. According to him, “on 15 Feb.06 at about 7.30 A.M., OIC of Charmal P.S. with his staff and APR force accompanied by Sri Hrushikesh Pradhan, Chairman, Rairakhol Panchayat Samiti and some other villagers had been to the spot in village Vatra to retrieve the dead body. The violent bear which was hiding behind a bush suddenly attacked them. Sri Hrushikesh Pradhan fell down and the bear pounced on him. In order to save the life of Sri Pradhan and deter the violent bear from further attacks, the APR force fired 8 rounds from a .303 rifle. The bear was killed and Sri Pradhan sustained injuries. While Sri Pradhan was shifted to Rairakhol Sub-Divisioal Hospital for treatment in a police vehicle, he expired and was received dead at the Hospital”.

The Opposition refused to accept this story. The behavior of the bear narrated by the CM never tallies with reality. Bears do not keep guard on the carcasses of their victims for days and do not dare mobs and crackers. The CM is trying to escape with concocted explanations, members alleged. Even treasury bench heavyweight Pradeep Maharathi expressed doubts. Asking the CM to enlighten the House on what pattern of behavior is peculiar to a bear while attacking, to see if that matches the instant case, Maharathi said, “We political leaders are like NMR workers. The real government is controlled by bureaucrats, who want us to believe whatever is their version”.

The MLA of Rairakhol Sanatan Bisi supported the official version even as his colleagues M/s Kalpataru Das, Raghunath Mohanty, Debi Mishra of ruling BJD and Bimbadhar Kuanra of BJP stood with the CM.

Sitakanta Mohapatra of Congress wondered how the police can save the people when its armed constabulary is unable to hit the target and kills a man instead, if the statement of the CM has any iota of credibility. Mahes Sahoo pointed out that Law and Order situation has so severely deteriorated that people won’t dare to have nuptial nights without invoking police protection, but the ability of the police as depicted in Rairakhol firing would pose as a deterrent!

Jayadev Jena of Congress termed the death of Pradhan as an instance of political killing and Arun De of OGP asked the Government to stop the drama of an enquiry by its own apparatus. He demanded an enquiry by the CBI sans any dilly dally.

Reacting to the CM’s clarification that police OIC Rai is not being protected inasmuch as a case has been registered under section 302 that provides for prosecution for murder, Dr. Nrusingh Sahu of Congress said, the Government has nothing to claim credit for that. Sec.302 has been invoked on the basis of the FIR filed by the son of the deceased leader, not by the initiative of the Prosecution wing.

Castigating the government for its attempts to hush up the crime, Deputy Leader of Opposition Nrusingh Mishra had set the tone of attack on Government by rejecting an enquiry by the RDC as not dependable. It is a crime committed through the Police. The Police has executed a conspiracy to kill Sri Pradhan. It had lifted him from his residence under the guise of visiting the spot where the wild bear had killed a man and somewhere on the way had committed the cold-blooded murder. Three bullets had pierced the body of the Congress leader, one on the temple, one on torso and the other on the buttock, but there was no trace of piercing in the shirt he had worn. It clearly indicates that Sri Pradhan was denuded of his dresses before being shot at, Mishra, who had visited the bereaved family immediately after the news had shaken up Bhubaneswar, said. The bear episode is being used as a ploy to hoodwink the public, he emphasized. Why the Police killed him and/or at whose behest the Police killed him must be found out and for this, RDC is not adequate. He has no experience or expertise in crime investigation. An enquiry by the CBI is the only way to deal with the matter, he had stressed. Even, ruling party member Sanatan Bisi had opined that the suspended Police officer should have been arrested before absconding.

But it had no impact on the CM. Nobody can be arrested before guilt is established, he said, sticking to his decision for an administrative enquiry by the RDC.

People have manifested their irk by burning down the Charmal Police Station and demonstrating their protests in the largest congregation of general public ever having expressed their collective condemnation of Government in the usually peaceful forest land: Rairakhol.

But watching the Government at Bhubaneswar one is inclined to feel that the people at the helm of affairs have no efficiency in reading the writings on the wall.

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