Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 14:
Senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik has come out strongly in support of party MP Pradeep Majhi who has launched a hunger strike in front of the Raj Bhawan today, demanding the police to produce the innocent adivasis picked up by them during anti-Naxal operations in Malkangiri district.
In a letter to chief minister Naveen Patnaik today, the senior leader sought his immediate intervention to end the hunger protest by the Nabrangpur MP Majhi and “deal with the situation with greater sensitivity.”
In his letter Patnaik said ,” The issue of false detention, arrest and lodging of people in jail without any charge is serious not merely because of the human rights issues are involved, but also because it is necessary to maintain the credibility of any fight against extremist forces. ”
Patnaik further said, “A large number of Central and State forces have been deployed in these areas without adequate command, control and supervision mechanism and often people are being picked up at random to show results for the consumption of senior officers and the Government. ”
“During my visit to Malkangiri and contacts with public representatives from this area I have been made aware of the indiscriminate manner in which detention and arrests are being made. There seems to be a dictum that any adivasi arrested by the security forces in Malkangiri is to be presumed to be a Naxalite till he is cleared of the charges and this presumption is purely based on what some lower level police officials say”, Patnaik said.
Terming the Naxal problem as a complex and multi-faceted one, Patnaik said the governance and development deficits are not being addressed by the state government with any amount of sincerity, thus ” escalating the perception that people of these areas have been left at the mercy of security forces and to fend for themselves. I request the state government to show greater sensitivity to prevent further deepening of the sense of frustration and alienation that adivasis in these areas feel.”
“I request you to write to the Hon’ble M.P. addressing his concerns and advise your officers to carry out a review. Unfortunately when democratically elected leaders make these requests for review peacefully, the State Government is unwilling to talk. But, when Naxals take people hostage and negotiate at the point of a gun, the government is willing to walk the extra mile,” Patnaik said in his letter.