Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa is under the climate of crime.

Chief Minister Navin Patnaik has dragged this splendid and traditionally peaceful land into the hot lap of capitalism and all the crimes that capitalism generates and instigates have now engulfed the State.

Administration has gone such astray that the people of Orissa are being compelled to pay for officers who under official orders are exempted from rendering any service!

This was earlier done in cases of noted miscreants Ramesh Behera and Santosh Mishra of Indian Administrative Service as well as Sisir Acharya and Amaresh Jaiswal of Indian Forest Service. Now it is Priyabrata Pattnaik of IAS.

But the Chief Minister protecting Priyabrata from Law is not new.

In 2000, his conduct in context of a youth congregation styled Dreamfest at the Bhubaneswar Club was so sexually offensive and crude that the Government had been compelled to appoint a single judge judicial enquiry headed by District Judge Mahendra Patnaik. His report was submitted to Chief Minister Navin Patnaik. It has been suppressed and no action has been taken as yet.

His conduct in respect of the most valuable Kandadhara mines needed special investigation when people of Orissa were sharpening their protest against POSCO.

The foreign firm was so eager to grab Khandadhar mines and was so apprehensive of not getting it in view of public protests that it was suspected to have tried to succeed in its design using the Bhubaneswar club headed by Priyabrata as a mask. The secret deal could have been unveiled had the modus operandi of Bhubaneswar Club applying for Khandahara on lease been investigated into and Priyabrata’s clandestine connection, if any, with POSCO in violation of the Code of Conduct of Government Servants could have come to light. This could not happen as the Chief Minister’s chair was occupied by Navin Patnaik.

Going into the history of such misdemeanor is not relevant at the moment. What is relevant is the conduct of Chief Minister in protecting him despite he having admitted that Priyabrata’s conduct was not becoming of an officer.

The order he has passed for posting of Priyabrata as Officer without portfolio confirms that the Government has lost confidence in the officer. To the Government he is not trustworthy.

But by posting him as Officer without portfolio, Navin has ensured that he shall continue enjoying his rank and receiving his salary sans any work and the peoples shall go on bearing compulsorily the burden of his high pay package without obtaining any service from him.

This is sufficient evidence of how the Chief Minister has supported a man whose nexus with the underworld has hit the police hard emanating directly from the lips of a contract killer who by profession is a hit man, in course of interrogation in the matter of cold-blooded murder of Judo coach Biranchi Das.

Murder of Biranchi yet unsolved and suspected assassins yet at large; it does not look correct to deal with that subject.

In our view, police should be kept off pressure so that investigation would proceed systematically. Media activism should be least encouraged in crime investigation. The media in Orissa has no criminologist on employment and no media organization has ever imparted in-service training in criminology to any journalist reporting crime. So, as we have watched, Orissa media having no education or expertise in criminology, has overwhelmed the process of investigation with uncalled for suggestions, unqualified suspicions and immature innuendoes and like mud water suits the crab, the confusion created by media has suited the assassinator of the Judo coach so far.

Therefore without any prejudice to how the prosecutors are proceeding in the instant case, we shall limit our focus on the climate of crime the CM has allowed to engulf Orissa in Priyabrata context.

This blue-eyed boy of POSCO-Navin nexus, after Acharya’s close colleague Chagala alleged that the hit men including himself were engaged by Priyabrata, had wanted to keep on records in a press conference that he neither had known nor had ever seen gangster Raja Acharya, the suspected killer of Biranchi. But in course of a mild interrogation he confessed before the police that he had met Raja a couple of days before Biranchi was murdered.

Whether or not he had hired the hit men is a matter for the State to reveal. But the people do not wait for the State to see how the needle of suspicion is sharply rushing towards him.

By posting him as an officer without portfolio, Navin Patnaik has ensured that he can freely and in opportune moments contact any functionary anywhere in the citadel of power.

In the climate of crime that Navin Patnaik has ushered into Orissa, what better method could have been invented to help an untrustworthy officer escape Law?

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