Odisha Dalit-Adivasis Protest Before Assembly, Seek Justice For Activists Killed in Fake Maoist Encounter

On November 18, a mass protest was organised at Bhubaneswar before the Odisha Legislative Assembly to demand justice for the brutal murders of five tribal and dalits by the security forces at Bhaliaguda forest, seven years ago.


Hundreds of tribal and dalits from Kandhamal, Ganjam and Gajapti districts gathered before the State Assembly of Odisha for a public demonstration against the lack of action taken against the brutal murders of five tribal/dalit activists by police forces committed under the garb of a Maoist encounter.

All victims were social activists from the Kandhamal district that worked on issues related to forest rights, the MGNREGA scheme, the Right To Information. Among the deceased, Aiba Pradra, Syamson Majhi and Ghasiram Bagsingh were well known for their social activities. Ghasiram Bagsingh was the Samiti Sabhya-elect of his village Saramuli.  

They were slain for raising their voice against the then-Sarpanch and her ex-husband for illegally transporting rice meant for the persons belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL).

The Protest

The Protest was organised by Narendra Mohanty, the State Convener of Campaign Against Fabricated Cases (CAFC) and Balabhadra Mallick from Banabasi Surakshya Parisada. CAFC and Banabasi Surakhya Parisada, Kandhamal have been campaigning against the travesty on both legal and democratic levels for the last seven years.

It was facilitated by Laxmi Bagsingh (widow of Ghasiram Bagsing), Debaranjan (Ganantrik Adhilkar Surakya Sangathan), Pramodini Pradhan (PUCL), Radhakanta Sethi (CPI(M.L) Liberation), Sankar Sahu (CPI(M.L)-Red Star), Narayan Dalua (Forward Blok), Manas Pradhan (AIPF), among others.

The Complaint

On August 19, 2012 under the leadership of Ghasiram and Syamson Majhi, a group of people gathered at the Brahmanigam police station, Kandhala to lodge an FIR against the then Sarapanch of Saramuli Gram Panchayat Kamala Patamajhi, her husband and former Sarpanch Karma Patamajhi and their family members for the illegal transport of the BPL rice. 

A case was registered at the Brahmanigam Police Station in this connection, and the police seized rice from an out-going truck and arrested the driver.

On October 10, 2012, Kamala Patamajhi was arrested and sent to jail whereas her husband was granted anticipatory bail from the Odisha High Court. But Ghasiram and Syamson staged a dharana in front of the Daringbadi Block Office on October 11, 2012 with more than hundred people, demanding that all of the involved family members be immediately arrested.

Aiba Padra, who played a vital role in the implementation of MGNREGA and the Forest Right Act in Gadapur and Hatimunda, also supported the people’s movement against illegal sale of BPL rice.

Apprehending the danger they were bringing in their lives by speaking up, these persons had lodged on FIR to Brahmanigam Police Station under Kandhamal. 

The Murders

On November 18, 2012, in the Bhaliaguda forest bordering Kandhamal-Ganjam and Gajapati District, the five activists were killed by security forces—not for Maoist activities, but for protesting against corruption. Narendra Mohantey of CAFC narrated this story:

“Aiba Pradra, Syamson Majhi and Ghasiram Bagsingh were summoned by the Maoists to Bhaliaguda to face the ‘Praja Court’ (People’s Court). Presumably from a “source” sent by the Sarpanch Karma Patamajhi, they had received false information that these three persons were collecting donations by claiming it’s for some Maoist cause. Out of fear of the Maoists, these three persons went to the Maoist camp to give their reply. On their way back, they were shot by security forces, who then claimed that the deceased were Maoists they found during a combing operation.

Sanatan Mallik and Lakshmikanta Nayak, two Dalit-Adivasis of the working class had gone with Aiba, Syamson and Ghasiram to the site of the incident as well. They were also shot dead during the supposed combing operation.

Lakshmikanta had come to invite the community members to celebrate the birth of his daughter. He was killed the same day for just being present at the site with these guys.”

It is worth noting that the Patamajhis were stood defeated in the 2012 Samiti Sabhya election of the Gadapur Gram Panchayat. They were beaten by Luko Sunamajhi, Aiba Padra’s uncle G.P. Karma Patamajhi and her family members now threaten to kill them for bringing attention to their BPL rice scam among other political differences. 

Since the Murders

Several democratic organisations and civil rights groups have since visited the area to independently investigate into the matter, including CAFC, “Adivasi Manch, Kandhamal”, “Banabasi Surakshya Parishad, Kandhamal”, “Sarvodaya Samaj, Odisha”, “Co-ordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO)”, and “Human Rights Front.” All of these groups concluded that the victims had no weapons on their person, that there was no crossfire between them and the police forces, and that they were trapped and killed in cold blood.

In an attempt to garner public attention, this collective has organised a protest every year since 2013. They have knocked the doors of various State Administration officials in the hope of finally getting justice, such as the Chief Minister of Odisha, the Ex-Governor of Odisha and the Collector of Kandhamal, but to no avail.

The widows of four of the deceased—Laxmi Bagsingh, Mamita Pradhan, Ranjita Patamajhi and Sikaalu Majhi—along with Narendra Mohanty of CAFC have submitted a memorandum to these officials detailing their plight and the bare minimum that they seek.

Their Demands

The surviving family members and other people under the banner of Campaign Against Fabricated Cases (CAFC), Odisha put forth the following demands when they gathered before the Odisha Legislative Assembly on November 18, 2019, seven years after the incident.

  1. An independent and impartial inquiry into this Bhaliaguda Fake Encounter incident. 
  2. An FIR lodged against the police officials under section IPC 302.
  3. A stop to the atrocities committed by the police against villagers in the name of combing operations.
  4. A monetary compensation of Rs. 50 lakh for each family surviving the deceased.



Tougher Than Steel: Odisha Community Rally Against Transfer of Their Land, Again

“Help all without discrimination”: Mamata to officials distributing cyclone aid

Police claim to foil communal clash in Muslim youth’s assault: Rourkela






Related Articles