Fact-finding Report on “Brutal Attack on the Villagers of Dadhimachhagadia Sabar Sahi in the presence of the Police Force under Khurda district, Odisha”
On 21.3.16 , violent mob of around 500 people attacked Dadhimachhagadia Sabar Sahi at and ransacked the houses of the villagers, brutally tortured male people. Being frightened by the attack, both male and female members of the village fled the house. The attackers also looted the house and took all the household articles, paddy, vegetables, goats, utensils etc. After this incident, police force was deployed to provide security to the villagers and the administration also opened relief centre to provide food to the affected women members. This incident found prominent place in different news paper on 22.3.16. It was also highlighted that due to internal conflicts among different groups of the villages within Kaipada Gram Panchayat, this violent incident occurred. It was also reported that women and children are starving.
Visit of the Fact-finding Team
Having gone through the news, a four-member Fact-finding Team of Civil Society Groups ( Pradip Pradhan, State Convener, Right to Food Campaign, Odisha, Sri Ashok Mallik, State President, NACDOR, Odisha Chapter, Sri Bijay kumar Pradhan, President, Odisha Jana Adhikar Parishad and Sri Sudhir Mohanty, advocate ) had visited the village on 23.3.16 to ascertain the fact about incident and explore the possibility of helping the affected poor tribals. The Team reached at around and found police patrolling around the village. On the entry of the village, the women were being served food by the Govt. officials under banyan tree. Within few minutes, the Team also noticed the inspection of the village by the Collector and Superintendent of Police, Khurda. However, the Team members entered into the village and the atmosphere of the area found very calm and quiet. Not a single male villager was noticed in the village. Many of the houses are found ransacked, half-burnt and destroyed. Around 72 houses were torched into fire. Few women were founding very frightened and moving hither and thither. Some of them were coming to relief centre to take food.
The Team members met Kabir Pradhan, villager and Tuku Majhi, ward Member and interacted with them to know about the unfortunate incident occurred in their village on 21.3.16. Dadhimachhagadia Sabar Sahi is a tribal majority village. The village is having total no. of 132 Households. Though they are tribals, they are not considered as Scheduled Tribe by the Govt. for which they could not get any benefit under various Govt. schemes reserved for ST community. Most of the villagers are poor and eke out their livelihood from daily wage and small business. This incident is the result of series of inert and intra-conflict among the villagers of Dadhimachhagadia General Sahi ( a village of Upper Caste having dominance in the village and clout in the area) and Sabar Sahi. As recalled by the respondents, Six months back, there was violent conflict between Kalia Biswal, Crusher Manager and Lilu Pradhan of Sabar Sahi. Lilu Pradhan was severely beaten up by the opposite rivals. However, the dispute was resolved after intervention of the police.
Since then, Lilu Pradhan had left the village. On 19.3.16, there was again conflict and duel of war between two rivals i.e., Kalia Biswal and Lilu Pradhan. The bloody fight resulted in murder of Kalia Biswal which occurred on road just little meter distance from the village. His murder has created a lot of violent reaction of the Upper caste people against tribals of Sabar Sahi. After this murder, the district administration immediately deployed the police force in the area and the police started investigation. But the upper caste people did not take this incident easily and organized meeting among them to take the revenge of the murder of kailash Biswal.
They got organized and attacked Sabar Sahi on 21.3.16 at . Despite the police force being present on the spot, they could not resist the mob of more than 500 people who attacked with lethal weapons to the villagers of Sabar Sahi , looted everything. Both male and female smelling violent attack by
upper caste people fled the village to adjoining forest prior to attack. They attacked with petrol bomb and destroyed their houses. It was reported that the police has arrested 8 people. The whole area was found tense but under control with the presence of significant number of police. The team noticed presence of number of Govt. officials like police officers, Tahasildar, Block Development Officer, Block officials and many others. Though few women are found in the village, no male members have returned to the village yet. The Team members Sri Ashok Mallik and Sudhir Mohanty discussed with the police and officials about the incident but the response was not quite satisfactory. Many of the people whom the Team met did not hesitate to speak anything out of fear.
Analysis of the situation and Recommendation of the Team
The Team is of the view that age-old inter-village conflict, personal grudge and culture of dominance of Upper Caste against lower Caste has taken violent turn in the village. The horrifying situation has posed big threat to the life and livelihood of the tribals of Sabar Sahi. They have been terrified by the organized attack and fled the village to survive. Their life has been endangered. Their house has been ransacked and all the household articles have been destroyed. This incident can not be taken as mere law and order situation. The trust deficit between the two communities living in same village and locality has posed severe threat to co-existence. This violent incident has occurred in the presence of the police. It may be the presence of Small number of the police could not resist the violent mob. If more number of police had been deployed, this attack could have been avoided. Or it may be also the reason that nexus of the police with Upper Caste leaders backed by Ruling political party has triggered the attack in a planned causing huge loss to tribals.
So, keeping in view the situation, the Team makes the following recommendation to protect life and livelihood of the tribals of Sabar Sahi
1. The Team urged the Govt. to appoint a high-level inquiry into the occurrence of incident, politics behind mobilization of villagers of different villages, involvement of political leaders of Ruling class, involvement of mafias or owner of Crusher Unit etc. The inquiry should be conducted in time bound manner and action to be taken accordingly.
2. The State Govt. should try immediately to restore peace and sense of brotherhood by bringing together both the opposite parties to settle the disputes. The administration should be cautious to resolve the age-old dispute. So that the peaceful co-existence can be restored permanently. The Administration may form a peace committee involving the senior people of both the communities.
3. The administration should immediately identify the loss of each family and compensate them accordingly at the earliest.
4. The State administration should give priority to ensure food and livelihood on war footing way. So that the tribals will be confident to stay in the village and go for work.
5. The administration should immediately release fund under Biju Pucca Gruha Yojana to the villagers whose house has been gutted.
6. The administration should continue relief till the normal situation is restored in the village.
7. The police force should be there till law and order is restored in the village.
Pradip Pradhan, Sri Ashok Mallik,
State Convener, State President
Right to Food Campaign, Odisha NACDOR, Odisha Chapter
Sri Bijay kumar Pradhan, Sri Sudhir Mohanty
President, Odisha Jana Adhikar Parishad Advocate, Odisha High Court