Friday, May 01, 2009

Villagers caught up in trouble, post-Naxal attack

Statesman News Service
KORAPUT, April 30: The Naxal attack on the Nalco mine area earlier this month has drawn attention to villages like Talameting which were otherwise invisible as far as the state was concerned.
The lone school in Talameting has not opened for 12 years - needless to say no child of the village has ever gone to school. If that speaks volumes against the much hyped 'universalisation' of education and the Sarva Sikshya Abhiyan, here is another shocking fact – the lone tube well in the village has never functioned since the day it was installed. Villagers trek to the nearest natural source of water.
Located on the foothills of the Nalco mines, Talameting would never have drawn attention, had it not been caught up in the recent Naxalite attacks.
The villagers - 32 households in total - were suddenly in the thick of trouble. The Naxal strike on 12 April at the Nalco mines came as a major jolt for these villagers. They had learned to live with poverty and deprivation, they were reconciled to the fact that they did not exist in the eyes of government agencies. Post-12 April, however, they have been faced with a new threat – policemen.
"The villagers are scared," said Mr Nihar Ranjan Patnaik, who had led a fact finding team to the village. Mr Patnaik is president of the Bar Association, Koraput.
The team was constituted to ascertain the veracity of alleged police excesses and indiscriminate firing in the village on 13 April when combing operations were launched.
"The team had recovered a bullet that was stuck in the mud wall of a hut and taken pictures of numerous scars on other walls in the village caused by bullets," said Mr Patnaik.
It was at this village that one Katru Huika was killed by police forces. Villagers complained to the team that at least 20 jawans had entered the village and fired indiscriminately. Huika had no links with any Left wing outfit, and was returning home when he was shot dead, they alleged. The villagers also charged that four youths of the village have been missing since the fateful day.
The team has indicted the police and district administration as well as Nalco authorities in its report to the National Human Rights Commission.
The committee has demanded a judicial probe by a sitting High Court Judge into the entire police operation carried out in the area in the wake of the Naxal attack on the Nalco mine

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