SUICIDE OR EMANCIPATION?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Suicide can be defined as the extreme form of passive revolt against unconquerable oppression. Therefore the ever-increasing numbers of farmers’ suicide suggest that they are under such oppression, which seems to them as unconquerable.

When an individual commits suicide it may be attributed to unconquerable oppression perpetrated upon him or her by another individual or group of individuals. But when a class of people commits suicide, the oppressor cannot but be the State.

State is a power that becomes the instrument of oppression only when it falls in the hands of persons who possess it not by virtue of self-less sacrifice for the people but by being the facilitators of private industry. State then runs by State terrorism.

As far as Orissa is concerned, the State-power lies in the hands of the Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh at the center and Chief Minister Navin Patnaik in the State.

None of these two has any record of sacrifice for the people. But both of them are facilitators of private industry even of foreign origin and foreign interest. No wonder, with them at the helms of affairs, the farmers have been committing suicide in ever-increasing numbers.

Instead of embracing suicidal death as the extreme form of passive revolt against oppression, whosoever oppose oppression actively, these two functionaries notwithstanding their difference in political attires, become one in condemning them as extremists, terrorists or Naxals and unleash State terrorism to push them into homicidal deaths.

The syndrome is so serious that a man like K.P.S.Gill who is known as an eager exterminator of extremists / insurgents in the country has in a recent interview to Tehelka disapproved “Operation Green Hunt” – the latest form of State terrorism – being unleashed against people that are considered active voice of the oppressed.

It is time, all of the Indians that are not exploiters, must get united to decide as to which method of revolt against oppression is desirable: passive revolt that leads to suicide or active revolt that ensures emancipation.

Emancipation is possible only when plutocracy that has replaced democracy is removed.

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CM NAVIN: BOTH THE ARCHITECT AND VICTIM, OBSERVES SAMPAD MOHAPATRA


Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Eminent Journalist Sampad Mohapatra, in a note has expressed deep dismay over the official attempt to kill the zeal of journalists to unveil maladministration in Orissa.

Visitors to these pages know, Laxman Choudhury, a rural reporter based at Mohana, has been a victim of police vengeance and framed up under charges of sedition.

The Court concerned has not paid expected judicial mind to see how acceptance of a closed packet of papers, allegedly ultra-left leaflets, could be read as an act of sedition. But the reporter, who received the packet as a routine act media activity, has been thrown into the jail as an under trial criminal!

Shocked over such ruthless oppression, the Bhubaneswar based journalists had in a delegation met the Chief Minister seeking withdrawal of the misconceived charges of sedition to save the rural reporter from the motivated police and its obliging elements in judiciary. The CM had also assured them of that. But the journalists had to soon experience how meretricious was Navin Patnaik

This being an instance of misuse of police power, the Home-cum-Chief Minister seen unwilling to encourage the Press to expose police malfeasances by standing with the illegally jailed journalist, the journalists from all streams of media had to offer a collective protest rally before the Governor House in order to attract attention of the Governor to the misrule that runs under his name. But the administrative environment has become so polluted that the same rally of scribes has gone inconsequential so far.

The extent to which the fourth estate has been harmed by the present regime is discernible in the very fact of cowering away of media owners and organizational bodies from protesting on records against the sinister steps of police against Chowdhury.

Mahapatra’s mail, meant for fellow journalists, has most speaking relevance for applied democracy. Hence I prefer to circulate it verbatim here below:

A month has passed since our Mohana-based fellow journalist Laxman Choudhury was arrested and jailed on fabricated charges that he was hand-in-gloves with the outlawed CPI Maoist party. The only evidence that the local police managed to gather was an envelope addressed to him that contained 8 Maoist leaflets issued on the occasion of the Foundation day celebrations of the outfit. The conductor of a private bus who carried that packet for Choudhury was also arrested and jailed.

Strangely Ghai Majhi, the man named in the FIR as the person who handed over the so-called “incriminating material” to the bus conductor and asked him to deliver it to Laxman Choudhury is still at large. Reports from the area suggest that Majhi, a para-teacher at Raipanka village ( Gajapati district ) acted as a collaborator of the local police which wanted to teach Laxman Choudhury a lesson for exposing their links with the ‘Ganja’ Mafia and flesh trade. The police has made no efforts to arrest Ghai Majhi… for obvious reasons.

On the 6th of October the Additional District Judge rejected Choudhury’s bail application on the ground that charges of sedition were still pending against him. Sources say that the judge went to the extent of asking the police why they had dropped charges of ‘waging war against the state” but never asked them what evidence they had collected against Choudhury. The same day – that is a week after our first meeting with chief minister Naveen Patnaik questioning him about the false charges against Choudhury – the local police managed to get one Mr Ruben Gamang on their side and recorded his statement against Choudhury under Sec164 accusing him of Maoist links.

We have no doubts in our mind that the diktat of chief minister Naveen Patnaik does not carry much weight in the state. He is both the architect and victim of a system that simply does not mean what it says.

On 9 October 2009, that is the last time we met with the chief minister Naveen Patnaik on this issue we showed him hard evidence of how similar Maoist leaflets were sent to other journalists and were delivered by none other than the Postal department. The point we wanted to make is how the police were trying to using their powers to target media persons who ‘dared’ to expose their misdeeds and corruption as well as others who had little to do with Maoist activities. We also told him how the inefficient and ill-managed state police had defied his earlier instructions to drop charges against Choudhury, which he himself called “ridiculous” and were in fact behaving as an extra-constitutional authority with scant regard for basic human rights.

A cynical view could be that chief minister Naveen Patnaik was perhaps trying to take all of us for a ride with his ‘histrionic talents’ but during our meeting with him he “appeared disturbed” by the fact that the police had defied his instructions and promised immediate withdrawal of the charges of sedition slapped against Choudhury. He asked his Principal Secretary Mr Bijay Patnaik in our presence to take immediate steps to ensure the sedition charges were dropped against Choudhury.

But the sedition charges are still pending against our friend.

We soon found out that the state police headquarters was playing a double game. One group of senior officials were willing to concede that the charges leveled against Choudhury were outrageous and should be withdrawn immediately. At the same time another group ‘senior officers’ who occupy positions of authority wanted to give vent to their ‘frustrations’ by doing everything possible to provoke a media vs state government confrontation. This has little to do with Laxman Choudhury’s case and much much more to do with the sagging importance of these officers as also their personal rivalry with other senior police officials.

Once cheated, we did not take Naveen Patnaik’s assurances seriously. That is why 3 days later on the 12th of October 2009, a large number of journalists staged a protest dharna in front of the Raj Bhawan in Bhubaneswar demanding Choudhury’s unconditional release and condemning the high-handed and revengeful act by the state police No journalist association in the state nor the so-called defenders of civil and human rights barring a few came forward to support the protest action. Some media big bosses went to the extent of opposing our protest and said journalists accused of aiding the Maoists need to be hanged! Not a single newspaper in the state condemned the atrocious charges against Laxman. Some newspapers chose not to cover the protest at all. And some who covered the event with photographs stopped short of mentioning what had led so many scribes to protest !

That is the ugly truth about the Orissa media and their ‘powerful’ owners. Thankfully, despite all this negativism, journalists who took part in the protest volunteered to help Laxman’s case and donated Rs 10,000.00 on the spot.

However, journalists and lawyers in Parlakhemundi, headquarters of Gajapati district where Mohana is located, chose to take the matter to the High Court and decided to appoint senior and widely respected lawyer, Jagannath Patnaik as the counsel for Laxman Choudhury. We had little say in the matter but we thought it was a good decision.

We are told that Mr Jagannath Patnaik has taken a personal interest in Laxman’s bail petition and that the hearing will take place at the earliest and also that the weak evidence gathered by the prosecution will help his release from the jail.

Let me tell you, we have been accused of playing to the tune of the powers that be and ignoring the agony and pain of a fellow journalist who has been in jail for the last four weeks by some people people we respect but who unfortunately have chosen to keep silent so far. Surely, we are not guided or influenced by individuals who have personal agendas and axes to grind. At the same time we can not afford to ignore the fact that we have indeed been paying lip service to Laxman Choudhury’s case.

It’s time we take the battle to its logical conclusions. And also time for us to realize the police under Chidambaram’s regime are all set to terrorize the media into silence before they undertake a bloody war against Maoists- a set of people they are yet to define or describe with any degree of confidence. Call it quixotic or hilarious, the point we need to underscore is: it’s real.

Let’s get back to our original concern: Laxman Choudhury’s release.

Going by the system, one has to wait for the highest judiciary in the state to act as the defender of civil and human rights and order the release of Choudhury. If that does not happen, we need to worry about the manner in which our so-called democracy operates today and regulates the way we respond to the realities around us as members of the so-called Fourth Estate.

Let me know how you respond to the challenge.

FARMERS ON THE WAR PATH: STATE TERRORISM CANNOT BE THE REMEDY

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Single-minded steering of State administration by Chief Minister Navin Patnaik into the service of industry at the cost of agriculture has ruined the principal avocation of the people of Orissa to such tragic instability that the farming community of the State is being forced to witness how its devastated members are committing suicide one after one under loads of loan.

Orissa’s unique eco-system has been openly butchered in Navin regime by the mining mafias in all the parts of the State that were from time immemorial covered under Mother Nature’s impregnable green blessings, enlivened with flora and fauna, with perennial streams and water falls, with medicinal plants and fertile lands. Yesterday’s Orissa is no more in existence.

Domineered by avaricious industry, its climate has changed. Rains are not regular when farming needs regular supply of water. Irrigation has suffered the worst negligence during the entire decade under Navin’s incumbency. Agriculture department has lost its primacy. Even its officers are no more nearer to farmers. Farmers are left at the disposal of destiny.

Erratic but spontaneous protests of farmers against shifting of priority of water supply from cultivation to industries having willfully ignored by administration, mass wrath has metamorphosed to pasting of black paint on the face of a Deputy Director of agriculture as a token of treatment the people are now eager to give to this government.

The Government has appointed a fact finding committee, which the Opposition suspects to be, in reality, an exonerating committee meant to jumble up scenarios and to contrive administrative jargons to protect the real culprit under whose stewardship the primacy of agriculture has suffered the setback.

But in doing this the government has inadvertently admitted that the administrative department of agriculture has forfeited its credibility in the eyes of the people. Otherwise a joint probe could not have been required and another department, i.e. the revenue department should not have been put in charge of probing into the affairs of agriculture. Now in this joint probe, the officers of agriculture shall have to submit to queries from officials of revenue department. If this is not embarrassing what else is to officers that man the agriculture department?

Shifting of State priority from agriculture to industry has led to this forfeiture of credibility of the agriculture department.

Should the revenue department dance to the tune of the agriculture department to help it retrieve the lost credibility and cooperate in production of a report that would exonerate the agriculture department of all the derelictions that have derailed cultivation in Orissa or shall stick to impassionate probing principles and help people know the hidden culprit is a matter to be watched.

When suicide of farmers can be termed as extreme form of demonstration of their protests, the agro community’s collective wrath expressed in road blockades and demonstrations portend that the time is not far away when the persons on suicide mode would think afresh as to how should they deal with whosoever has or have dragged them to this nasty cul-de-sac.

Call that stage a stage of terrorism, but be sure, state terrorism will never be the remedy.

KALI POOJA OR DIWALI?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Diwali practically is a festival of profit and profit is dependent on the art of fetching. I am averse to this art. Hence I fail to understand how to respond to the Diwali greetings I am getting.

Kali Pooja is different. Oriyas pay fire salutes to their ancestors, specifically to their beloved Gurudev Buddha, invoked as Badabadua, in front of Sri Mandira at Puri, abode of Sri Jagannatha, who Buddha is known as, and when unable to offer the salute at Puri, in their respective homes with bundles of Kaunria Kathi in blaze.

Habitually it is being done, though in the past it was purposeful.

I recommend my essay of October 28, 2008 on this subject as I feel it is necessary even today for new comers to know why the fire salute is given to Badabadua in front of Sri Mandira and in traditional Oriya homes.

Here is the link.

PM MUST NOT ACT MMS; SO NAVIN MUST RESOLUTELY PROCEED

Subhas Chandra Pattanyak

The Prime Minister of India is not expected to act as Dr. Man Mohan Singh. But Dr. Man Mohan Singh is refusing to act as the Prime Minister. This is the severest danger that democracy of India has been subjected to in this regime.

It is true, Dr. Singh belongs to the Congress party and heads a Congress led Government. But he has not been able as yet to convince us that he adheres to the principle that a man after becoming the PM of a multi-party-democracy like India should never act as a leader only of his party, but should rise above party timidity and act as the leader of the country.

Orissa run by a non-Congress Government has the bitterest experience of his partiality.

The National Institute of Science, earmarked for establishment in Orissa as per UGC framework, was, through clumsy conspiracy cooked up by him, changed to IISER and shifted to Kolkatta to suite his allies in West Bengal during the phase of his dependence on the Communists for survival in power. Had the Oriya intellectuals not registered their protests against the foul play and had the Oriya netizens not refused to remain silent, as several reports in these pages would show, the National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER) could never have come to Orissa.

We had exposed in these pages the political prejudices of Dr. Singh against Orissa when his Government had played the tricks in tackling the 2008 devastative deluge that had equally affected Orissa and Bihar. When Bihar, the province of the then Congress ally Lalu Prasad Jadav was immediately visited by Dr. Singh and supported with central aid amounting a thousand crores of Rupees, Orissa was ignored and only when criticism from the global community embarrassed his government, light feathers were asked to make a lackluster review of the flood of Orissa after the deluge was receded and a sum of only Rs. 98 crores was advanced as central assistance against an announced amount of Rs.500 crores. But, out of this 98 crores assistance, Singh’s government, after Orissa rejected the Congress in the general elections, insisted upon refund of 80 crores!

Commenting upon the scenario on July 12, 2009, we had mentioned,

“Orissa was discriminated against last year by Man Mohan Singh Government in the matter of central assistance to tackle the catastrophic damages wrecked by rivers in full spate. Even as Orissa damage was no less severe than that in Bihar, Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh and UPA Chief Sonia, then dependant on Lalu Pr. Jadav of Bihar for survival of their Government, rushed there and announced an instant assistance of Rs.1000 crores over and above the flood of funds Lalu was pumping from the Railways into that State as flood assistance. The Center deliberately delayed in having a survey of the spate in Orissa and when, much after the deluge had receded, the Union Home Minister made a reluctant visit to evade world criticism for negligence to Orissa on political grounds, he had announced central assistance worth only Rs. 500 crores in a face-saving attempt. But that the Union Minister’s announcement was a mere joke was unveiled as in reality the Union granted only Rs.98 crores.

It is shocking and surprising that out of this amount, the Union Government now wants refund of Rs.80 crores when on records in the Loksabha it has stated not to withdraw any fund from Bihar.

Orissa is undoubtedly discriminated against in absence of a legal guideline.”

It is a shame for our democracy that Dr. Singh’s Government has not yet released the promised amount of Rs.500 crores even as it has still been demanding refund of Rs.80 crores from the meager amount of Rs.98 crores remitted by NCCF. On the other hand, responding to recent flood in Andhra Pradesh and Karnatak, Singh has granted Rs.1000 crores each to these two States.

We do never want to say that these two States do not deserve more than what the central government has granted. But we certainly want to say, that Orissa should be treated with equal devotion.

Chief minister Navin Patnaik in his latest memorandum to Government of India has demanded that Rs 2687 crores be immediately sanctioned for resurrection of the State devastated by flood, one after one, since 2006.

This is a justified demand.

Orissa’s suffering is gradually increasing because of her inability to perfectly repair the damaged embankments and infrastructures due to rabid non-cooperation of the Central government. Had the announced assistance been released in reality, the State might have made solid reconstructions at specific points, which, in a way, might have stymied further decays. But by mischievously withholding the assured assistance, Singh’s government has played havoc with Orissa.

People of Orissa have refused to be hoodwinked by the agents of the American nuclear business and so, they have rejected the candidates of Singh’s party and the Congress has conceded defeat in Orissa.

With manipulators of EVMs available both to Navin and Singh, BJD victory over Congress is sure proof of people’s rejection to Congress.

This is democracy.

Instead of appreciating democracy, Singh has been playing the nasty game of discrimination against Orissa.

This nasty game shall have to be stopped. Dr. Man Mohan Singh must be made to know that he has the legitimacy to act as the Prime Minister. But the Prime Minister must be made to know that in a democracy like ours, he has no legitimacy to act as Dr. Man Mohan Singh.

On this premise, we the people of Orissa wholeheartedly appreciate Navin Patnaik’s role as our Chief Minister in protesting against discrimination and in pressing for flood related assistance that is Orissa’s due with retrospective effect as an equal partner in Indian Union.

We call upon Navin to resolutely proceed for complete stoppage of discrimination of one State against another by the political animals in power at the center.

In our comment cited supra we have stressed upon the need of formulation of a national guideline to regulate central assistance in case of natural calamities. We reiterate that this is the only way to stop the foul play. Hence, Navin should proceed for formulation of such a guideline in order to obliterate every possible scope of discrimination in future too.

If he feels, let him call for a mass movement against the Central discrimination and we are sure, in greater interest of Indian democracy, people of Orissa, except the shameless slaves of Sonia Gandhi, will gladly join the movement.

If he fails to develop such a just movement, it will be because of his lack of sincerity, not because of reluctance of the general public.

So, instead of stopping at the posting of his memorandum, he should, on principle, resolutely proceed to force Dr. Singh’s Government to stop discriminating against Orissa.

HIS WRIT DOES NOT RUN IN THE STATE, SAYS THE PRESS TO CHIEF MINISTER NAVIN PATNAIK

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Who runs the State? You, the Chief Minister? Or the bureaucrats or the police or mafias? This was the question today from the Press to Navin Patnaik, in a protest congregation before the Raj Bhawan.

The Chief Minister had promised a media delegation that had met with him on September 22 that an RDC-level probe will be ordered into arrest of Journalist Laxman Choudhury, which seemingly was an act of vengeance on the part of corrupt police officials posted in Gajapati district who, when their link with Ganja underworld and human trafficking hub was unearthed, tried to terrorize him into silence.

He had assured that the journalist would be relieved from being harassed under mindless police action. But nothing tangible has taken shape as yet.

The scribes at Bhubaneswar feel that the Gajapati police are desperate to save their skin. They have been caught red-handed while playing foul. They have no evidence against Choudhury except a packet of leaflets allegedly sent to him by the Maoists.

On Friday, 9th of October 2009, a delegation of working journalists had shown the CM a similar packet addressed to a Bhubaneswar-based journalist that contained Maoist leaflets. It was the postal department, which delivered the packet! When in Choudhury’s case, the poor bus conductor who acted as the ‘courier’ has been arrested and is in jail, no action has been initiated against the city-based journalist or the courier, the postal department of the Govt of India !!!

It is not impossible that the packet was planted to implicate Choudhury in criminal cases under severe charges like sedition.

Laxman Choudhury had invited trouble for himself. He had the courage to inform the SP and the Collector of the district about the ganja mafia, which enjoyed a free run in Gajapati by bribing the police. He also wrote about the complicity of the local police in cases of trafficking in women.

That is why he incurred the wrath of the police, apprehends senior journalist Sampad Mohapatra.

To the scribes, the chief minister’s writ does not run in the state. The police officers have openly defied his instructions to drop the ‘ridiculous’ charges against Choudhury and that they manage to do without any sense of fear.

Who are the people resisting the CM’s decision to drop the atrocious charges against the journalist, especially when the police have clearly failed to stitch together any credible evidence of his so-called Maoist links?

IS IT NOT PROPER FOR THE SUPREME COURT TO EXTEND U.P. ORDERS TO ORISSA?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Taking the cue from the Supreme Court of India stance against statue setting spree of UP Chief Minister Mayavati, the High Court of Orissa or the SC itself should take steps to dismantle deification of Biju Patnaik that his son Navin, being in advantage as the State CM, has been relentlessly doing at the cost of the State Exchequer.

In the Apex Court yardstick applied in Mayavati’s case, commissioning of Biju’s statues in public places and naming of official institutes and projects in Biju’s name cannot be anything but Navin’s self and family glorification willfully crafted for political gain.

It is better for the Apex Court to appreciate that Navin Patnaik is heading a government run by a regional political party called Biju Janata Dal and therefore naming of official institutes and welfare projects after him like the Biju Patnaik University of Technology or Biju KBK Yojana, Biju Kandhamal Yojana, Biju Gajapati Yojana, Biju Gram Jyoti Yojana etc by forcing the State exchequer to cough up funds for the same cannot but be political misuse of the taxpayers’ money.

The Supreme Court verdicts / directives are accepted as laws enforceable everywhere in India. So the SC directives issued in Mayavati context are also enforceable in Orissa.

Is it not proper for the Supreme Court to stop derailment of democracy in Orissa that the incumbent CM has been doing by forcing the State Exchequer to bear the cost of glorification of his father after death though, in fact, when alive, he was refused by the majority of Orissa a fresh mandate?

Is it not proper for the Supreme Court to see that no official institution and / or project funded by the State Exchequer should be named after a man in whose name a ruling syndicate has formed a political party as thereby the beneficiaries of the government program may be misled by the nomencletural mischief into electoral traps laid by the said ruling syndicate in its own nefarious interest?

Is it not proper for the Supreme Court to appreciate that christening official institutes and programs in Orissa by the name of Biju by his son Navin is more dangerous to democracy than setting up of statues of Kansiram or herself by Mayavati in UP; because, in Orissa, the ruling party is named after Biju and hence naming of welfare projects after him would sure lead the gullible public to mistake them as contributions of the ruling party or more specifically of Biju’s son?

Is it therefore not proper for the Supreme Court to extend its UP order / directives to whole of India and specifically to Orissa and to dismantle deification of Biju Patnaik by his vested interest son Navin, which he has been doing all these days by misuse of the State Exchequer?

In various cases like the ‘unauthorized occupation of government quarters in different provinces’, the Supreme Court has extended its orders, pronounced in individual state matters, to whole of India, keeping in mind the necessity of administrative fairplay and discipline. So, it would be proper for the Supreme Court to extend its UP order to Orissa on the grounds noted supra.