Odisha News Insight

CRPF Rayagada’s 4th Battalion distributes items in Naxal affected villages

3Rayagada, Feb 15: CRPF Rayagada’s 4th Battalion recently distributed several items like radio sets, blankets, mosquito nets, polythene sheets in Naxal affected villages like Sana Raising, Ranaguda, Seiskhal villages in Jemadeipentha Gram Panchayat under Seiskhal police limit. Several sets of badminton bats with nets & corks, While the police at the higher echelons of the states like Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh, which are affected with Left Wing Extremism(LWE),carom boards, crickets bats, etc were also distributed in the schools of the aforesaid villages in the presence of local Sarpanch Smt Dwarika Nilamma, Sana Raising’s Ward Member Smt Champa sabara, Village Head Sri E.Shaankar Rao of Sana Raising and Inspector Sri Rama Oraon Company Commander of D/4 Bn, CRPF, Seskhal, Sh. Gyanender Sahu, IIC Seskhal and Sri T.R.Mishra, PRO, CRPF 4th Battalion, Rayagada. The programme was launched with the objective of combating LWE and bridging the gap between villagers and security personnel through wining their hearts & minds,  are striving hard for a coordinated effort to combat violation by ultra left groups, their own wing at the ground level seems to lack a coordinated effort amongst various stakeholders.

As a part of its public relation programme,  a press release by CRPF 4th Battalion said.Mr. Patnaik, who received the sports materials like a badminton set from the CRPF personnel, agreed that there was no space near the school for the badminton court and he was also not aware of the measurement of the badminton court and the height at which the net should be hung. We also noticed that the size of the badminton bats, the height at which the net should be tied( 5 ft) did not commensurate with the heights of the tiny tots. Hence, all the sports materials did have no relevance as far as the tiny students are concerned. He said that he was never consulted before the distribution. He was called on the spot and was given the sports materials. The District Education Officer(DEO) was also not aware about distribution of sports materials by CRPF. The need assessment was never done with the education deptt, concerned headmaster of the school and School Management Committee.

A reality check by a team of scribes revealed that there was hardly any coordinated effort among the stakeholders like CRPF personnel, state police staff at the ground, PRI representatives, Sana Raising village, which is hardly 14 kms from the district headquarters has a dilapidated primary school building having only one Teacher named Sri Santosh Pattanaik and only six students: one boy and one girl each for class-I, II & IV. Sri Pattanaik regularly commutes from his house in Rayagada and was readying for Saraswati Puja the next day. This school has received a carom board and a set of badminton bat, a net and pack of corks. In the two roomed school building, one door is broken and the room is not used for long and several abandoned materials are dumped. The other room is clean and almirahs, chairs, tables, sports materials, etc are kept over the cracked floor at many places. The teacher rings the bell but no student is seen coming to school.Village Committees, School Management Development Committees, Teachers of the Schools, State Govt administration like Panchayat Executive Officer, Sports Officer, etc.

4A detailed discussion with the villagers revealed that each of the household has received a radio having brand name Santosh. Some the families have pucca buildings who have also got radio sets. Upon inquiry, we came to know that the village has ten TV sets which run through satellite antennas. The rest of sixteen households share viewing the TVs as neighbours.

The radio set is of extremely low quality without price tag. As those were available free, they took those though many of the villagers felt that the radio bore less importance as the people prefer to TV. Few agreed that they connect to Visakhapatnam AIR through this radio set as almost all villagers speak Telugu. The blankets were distributed to old persons and not enough for all the needy. Same was the case with mosquito nets.

A few families were supplied with cut-pieces of tarpaulin measuring 2 X 6 metres each. The gaze of the polythene was extremely thin and it could cover only part of the thatched house. Here also there was no need assessment done in the village. Neither a joint planning was done with the panchayat nor with block officials who also distributed blankets,Last but not the least, Mr Pattanaik says that the school will be closed from the next session as a non-optimal school and may be merged with the school in Jemadeipentha which is around two kms away from Sana Raising village.

Whether the tiny tots will traverse through jungle and undulated terrain on their own to go to Jemadeipentha is altogether another issue. tarpaulins during hudhud. Nor the health department was consulted about the distribution of mosquito nets which were usually done from time to time by the concerned PHC. All the villagers, who were queried, denied that their village was Naxal affected.

“It is disheartening to note that the CRPF, which has a commitment to serve the country with utmost transparency, quality and accuracy, also manipulates the poverty of the local tribals by distributing cheap materials without proper need assessment and consultation with PRI members and state government officials and even the state police.

At the Seiskhal police station, in the absence of the Inspector-in-Charge Sri Gyanendra Sahu, the ASI Sri AMN Rao clarified that though he was not the authority to respond to the issue of coordination of state police with the CRPF personnel, agreed that he was not aware of any such coordination or planning meeting about the distribution done by CRPF.

As the materials for distribution came from above, they were supposed to be distributed.The procedures of bulk purchase of materials for distribution to poor people by this para military force need to be examined and time has come to question about this to put the authorities in right track”, said Sri Kedar Panda, Senior Advocate and a prominent member of Rayagada Citizens Committee.