Tribals protest harassment by forces

Resentment is brewing among hapless tribals in this part of the State against security personnel. Facing arrest after being branded as Maoists, these tribals are now raising voice against the alleged excesses.

This became evident earlier this week when hundreds of tribals in the periphery of Sunabeda wildlife sanctuary gheraoed the Collectorate demanding relocation.

The tribals said despite the emotional attachment, they were prepared to sever ties with their roots to escape ‘harassment’ by security forces.

Last year, a similar matter was reported when the Chakutia Bhunjia tribals, who inhabit the villages in Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary, raised voice against the security personnel.

The security personnel had swooped down on their villages in Bhaosil under Soseng panchayat in Komna block on January 29 looking for Maoists and walked in and out of their kitchens, referred to as ‘Lal Bangla’. The Bhunjia tribals had cried hoarse as they believed that ‘Lal Bangla’, abode of ‘Duma Debta’, lost its sanctity after the security personnel entered the area. They had then set afire all the kitchens, usually located in front of their houses, and constructed new ones.

This is not the only incident. The agitating tribals alleged that innocent villagers have been detained several times and arrested on false charges of supporting the Maoists.

Recently, 21 persons, including a woman, were acquitted by additional district sessions judge here after being jailed on charges of helping Maoists.

On November 14 last, Sambalpur Police took away Upendra Mirdha and his cousin Sriram Mirdha (45) of Banjaritikra village under Jujumura police limits and branded them as Maoists. Ironically, two members of the Mirdha family had been killed by the Maoists on June 26, 2005.

On November 19 last, Rohita Chura alias Mithun (19), who worked in the mobile tower near his village, was arrested by the police.

His sister Santoshini Chura said Maoists had just asked him for direction and he was too afraid to refuse them.

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