Bhubaneswar: Villagers of Trilochanpur panchayat in Kalahandi district are a worried lot as there is no news about fellow villager Bakka Majhi who was taken away from his home by uniformed men May 10.
Majhi (45) was a member of the Niyamgiri Surkya Samiti (NSS), an organisation of Kalahandi tribals that has been resisting the entry of Vedanta and mining into Niyamgiri forests.
Around 40 uniformed policemen had broken into their house at 3 am May 10, said Bunhari, the wife of Bakka Majhi. “They all had weapons in their hands and asked ‘Where is your leader?’. They took him that night,” Bunhari said.
Bunhari also alleged that the uniformed men threatened to kill her when she had tried to stop them from whisking away Bakka.
Lingaraj Azad, an NSS leader, said so far the Kalahandi police have feigned ignorance about the arrest of Bakka Majhi. “The local Lanjigarh police deny having arrested Bakka. Kalahandi SP had a similar answer when we met them,” Azad said.
Recently, a five-member team of human rights activists also visited the Kalahandi SP Brijesh Rai.
Rai said Bakka was arrested at night by Rayagada police and the local
police merely assisted them. “We handed over Bakka to them the same night,”
SP said. Rai, though, did not specify the case in which Bakka was arrested. Rayagada SP KS Subramani neither denied arrest of Bakka by Rayagada police nor revealed in what case Bakka was arrested.
According to Supreme Court order, the family members of a suspect should be informed within 24 hours of his or her arrest by the police. The accused shall also be provided a counsel within the same period. Azad said NSS members are often arrested by the police and security forces such as CRPF or SOG on charges of being involved in Maoists activities. “It’s a general strategy of the police to weaken tribal’s resistance,” Azad said.
Bunhari said the uniformed men had also left behind a bag containing olive green uniform, a water bottle, a towel.
In Feb 27 this year, another villager Manda Kadraka (20) was allegedly killed in a fake encounter with the security forces in Niyamgiri forests. Kadraka’s family had come to know about his killing after seeing his picture in newspaper after a week. Orissa Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has already ordered a probe into Kadraka’s alleged killing.