Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
These pages carry eminent journalist Prasanta Patnaik’s exclusive report on brutal killing of four poor persons of Lodha community by a mob in Mayurbhanj on speculative suspicion of theft.
As the Police seem to have taken the matter lightly, Patnaik, along with human rights activist, Advocate Biswapriya Kanungo, has, in a petition before the State Human Rights Commission, attracted attention to:
(1). The brutal murder of four young and innocent tribal Lodhas without
any free, fair and public trial by a illegal mob;
(2). The casual approach of Senior Police Officer in regard to this serious heinous crime committed by the mob and failure of the police to apprehend any of the assailants;
(3).Utter failure of Lodha Development Agency for all-round improvement of conditions of Lodhas;
(4). Utter failure of Employment Guarantee Programmes and other poverty alleviation schemes for improvement of the economic condition of the Lodha community, generally landless and uneducated;
(5). Improper inquiry of cases of theft and robbery in the jurisdiction of Baripada Sadar Police Station and Kuliana Police Station and
(6).Lack of proper rehabilitation of Lodha primitive tribes to live with human dignity.
After the petition hit headlines, the Police have arrested six suspected killers. And, Orissa knows how criminals are escaping law because of lacunae in post-arrest prosecution.
The points raised by Patnaik and Kanungo go beyond mere arrest of suspected killers. Besides pointing at the “casual approach” of Police to this heinous crime, they have raised the issue of the failure of Lodha Development Agency (LDA) in bringing out their welfare. This particular Agency was created in recognition of Human Rights of the Lodhas, who collectively had raised a severe armed revolution against the British invaders and therefore had been declared as a Criminal Tribe in 1871 after Orissa was annexed and the foreigners had well settled their hegemony. They were dispossessed and every possible step was taken to keep them demoralized. After independence, the official notification branding them as a criminal tribe was withdrawn in 1956 and eventually LDA was created with funds for their all round development. Utter failure of this Agency is equal to brutal contempt against human rights of the Lodhas. These two and other issues raised by Patnaik and Kanungo before the Human Rights Commission are of very national concern.
We hope, the Human Rights Commission would take up these issues in right earnest and on review of the activities of LDA, shall set it on right rails so that human rights of the primitive tribe of Lodhas are safeguarded sans delay. It should take to task the Chief Minister in person for having reduced administration to a non-functioning machine in protecting human rights, specifically on matters enumerated by Patnaik and Kanungo.
Arrest of the suspected killers is not enough in a climate of ever increasing nexus between police and the criminals and of prosecution left in incompetent novice hands. The state must ask the police to punish them fast, failing which the police officers /prosecutors must be personally subjected to exemplary punishment.
It is time to appreciate that people of Orissa have lost their faith in administration as a result of which they are instantly taking law to their own hands. Killing of the Ladhas by a mob under Sadar Police Station of Baripada is an instance only. Had police ever been able to stop frequent theft in the locality, the people would never have run after speculating about who might be the thief and on the basis of their speculation, howsoever wrong it be, they would never have killed human beings.
Let there be curb on police inaction by fixation of responsibility on area boss of the police wherever any suspected criminal is killed by a mob, accepting such mob action as unfailing evidence of police collaboration with the continuous crime in that locality, which maddens the common man to take law to his own hand under common wrath.
The Human Right Commission should take up this point effectively while acting on the petition filed by Patnaik and Kanungo in the instant case, if intention would be not to make its outcome a farce.