Monday, December 31, 2007

Tough time for Orissa Police

Monday December 31 2007 11:19 IST

Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: The year 2007 is something Orissa Police would like to erase the memories of. A bloody trail of Naxal strikes, sensational robberies, two high-profile IPS officers found on the wrong side of the law....The list just refuses to end.

Though the Government can take heart from the fact that Left wing extremists are not as belligerent in Orissa as in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, the radicals made their intentions pretty clear: They just can’t be taken for granted.

At the fag end of January, Maoists struck at Dhenkanal’s Kankadahada forests brutally killing three forest staff. In May, a forester was targeted in Mayurbhanj, with the gory end.

Deogarh, where security personnel had pushed the extremists on the backfoot last year by striking successfully, again saw a chilling bloodbath.

In June, the extremists killed three villagers of Ranigola within hours sending a wave of panic.

Down south in Malkangiri, a former naib sarpanch was killed after a ‘Praja Court’ of the Maoists. A police sub-inspector also met the same fate a few days later.

But police tasted success when a joint team of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh did blow the lid off a gun-manufacturing unit near Rourkela. Top cadres like James, believed to have killed at least 62 cops and Ganesh Mirdha, found themselves in police net.

If Naxals were not a handful, robbers were. The cops were openly challenged. And how. During the year, at least a dozen bank robberies saw a whopping Rs 4 crore looted, the biggest being Rs 2.21 crore at Barbil in Keonjhar.

Criminals were not alone cops had to worry about. DG-ranked officer B.B. Mahanti, father of rape convict Bitti Hotra, and IG Sanjiv Marik made it to the headlines for wrong reasons.

Accused of aiding his son jump parole and evading police arrest, Mahanti saw the long hand of law catching up with him.

After a Rajasthan court issued a warrant, he was placed under suspension and became untraceable soon after.

Then there was Marik who found himself in the eye of a storm after allegedly ‘helping’ a group of criminals meet the accused of a bank dacoity and murder in Bhadrak district during February.

Once Krushna Chandra Sahoo, the man whom Marik allegedly sent as an escort with the criminals, spilled the beans, an inquiry was initiated and the IG was suspended.

The success stories of police included the unearthing of a massive fake drug racket in Balangir and similar cases of adulterated food in Sambalpur.

However, two incidents of gangrape - in Konark and Bhubaneswar - left a huge question mark on policing in general though culprits were booked later.

Biranchi Das, coach of boy wonder Budhia Singh, was arrested soon after his protege accused him of physical torture and abuse.

Besides, there was Nayagarh which shot to headlines over a spate of foeticide reports.The police found themselves entrusted with a different job - keeping a tab on the erring government doctors. The Crime Branch is now probing the issue.

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