The year was a mixed bag for Ganjam, Rayagada and Kandhamal districts in Southern Odisha. Ganjam saw development in the higher education sector in the form of a new cluster university.
While 2015 saw crime graph move northwards in the districts of Rayagada and Kandhamal, the year began on a high note for Ganjam Police with the surrender of Pramod Majhi, the second-in command top leader of Odisha Maobadi Party whose top leader Sabyasachi Panda was arrested in 2014. Pramod alias Sagar carried a reward of `three lakh on his head and was involved in over 50 cases of crime. While the spree of Maoist surrenders continued, police of these four districts seized arms and ammunitions in large quantity at regular intervals.
2 Kandhamal Crime Diary
The communally sensitive Kandhamal district was in news for alleged killing of a Christian Dalit couple by security forces on the suspicion that they were Maoists. On July 26, Duba Nayak, his wife Budi and three other couples of Pangalipadar village had gone to Ladima hills under Kotgarh block to talk to their son Rahul who works in Kerala over mobile phone. As they were unable to get network on their mobile phone, they decided to climb the hill to make the call. While the three other couples returned to Pangalipadar, the mutilated bodies of Duba and Budi were found next day. Villagers alleged that CRPF and SOG personnel had killed the couple, suspecting them to be Maoists.
The district again hit the headlines for death of 26 newborns at the Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) at the District Headquarters Hospital in Phulbani in June. Ten newborns had died on one day, as many within a gap of three days and six within two weeks in the SNCU.
Organ sale raised its ugly head when Kanhu Behera, a 20-year-old daily wager of Kandhamal, donated his kidney for `3.5 lakh and a job to 42-year-old Mahendra Patnaik, who runs a courier business and hails from Berhampur. The transplantation was done in Sri Lanka in March and subsequently, the Special Task Force of Crime Branch nabbed five persons in this connection.
In one of the biggest developments of the year for the district, the Justice AS Naidu Commission of Inquiry which probed into the 2008 riots in Kandhamal following the killing of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati submitted its report to the State Government in December. The Commission of Inquiry was set up on September 8, 2008 after communal riots broke out in Kandhamal district and other parts of the State following the killing of Swami. At least 38 people were killed in the riots which continued for nearly a month.
2 Sorcery Killings in Rayagada
Rayagada reported eight sorcery killings within six months. On August 19, Latara Pidika (52) and Appudu Meleka (56) of Nathama village under Rayagada police limits were beaten to death by co-villagers on the suspicion of practising sorcery. On July 14, one Jagabandhu Kalaka of Kana village under Bissamcuttack police limits of Rayagada district was burnt alive by 10 persons as they suspected him of practising sorcery. On July 24, a youth of Relipadar village under Chandili police limits, 27 km from Rayagada town, was severely assaulted by a group of villagers on the suspicion of practising sorcery.
The CBI began its inquiry into the Itishree Pradhan murder case and till now, has completed 11 phases of questioning.
2 Child Swapping in Ganjam
In March, the MKCGMCH was in news following a child swapping case. Sibaram Basantia and Sunita Basantia of Purusottampur block had lodged a police complaint alleging that they had been handed over a girl child by MKCG staff while hospital record stated that they gave birth to a boy. Similarly, Anil and Priyadarsini Biswasraya of Hinjilicut of Ganjam district also filed an FIR at BN Pur police station that their baby girl had been replaced with another baby who died due to premature delivery. A DNA report confirmed that the baby girl belonged to the Biswasraya couple.
The district got a Special Court to deal with chit fund cases, Khallikote Cluster University and the Central Government announced opening of IISER at Berhampur.