BALASORE: The fracas over Sports and Tribal Welfare Minister Sudam Marndi’s ostracisation from community has taken a twist due to police trying to interfere in the matter.
Santhal community, which imposed the ‘diktat,’ is allegedly being pressurised by the local police to lift the same. However, the leaders of the community in the region refused to budge in spite of the police threat.
Sources said police had called Baidhar Marndi, president of ‘Bhanja Dishom Majhi Pargana’ (a body working for protection of tribal society), to Bangiriposhi police station on Monday and allegedly asked him to lift the ‘diktat’ imposed on the Minister and three villages. When Baidhar refused to take a decision on his own, he was threatened with legal action.
Baidhar said when he reached the police station, Subodha Marndi, brother of Sudam and chiefs of three villages (Majhi Hadams) were already present. There was a heated argument in the police station when Subodha questioned the legitimacy of the community’s decision. “The IIC then asked me to lift the diktat. When I expressed my inability citing that it is a community decision, I was threatened with legal action,” Baidhar said.
Several tribal leaders alleged though the residents of three villages have been banned from using public property following the ostracisation, a group of supporters of Sudam and some residents of three villages forcibly immersed the mortal remains of their relatives at Sasada and Simila ghats after the intervention of police on Monday.
Monday was the ‘Mahaprayan Divas’ of the tribals. On this day, tribals immerse the mortal remains of their relatives and perform other rituals at the ghats.
Members of other tribal communities also criticised the interference of police. Surendra Singh, a leader of Munda community, said, “As it is a community matter, police have no role to play and it will be dealt with properly by the community heads.”
Members of Adivasi Socio Educational and Cultural Association and Mayurbhanj Adivasi Students Association also expressed displeasure over police intervention. Former JMM MLA Ajen Murmu, who was also present at the police station, said the community would continue to boycott them socially.
However, IIC of Bangriposi police station Padmalaya Sahu refuted the allegations and said the community head was called for a discussion to the police station apprehending law and order problem at the ghat. “He was not threatened with any action by the police. Heads of the villages confronted him. The community members called a meeting on Wednesday to take a final call,” she added.
Sahu said ostracisation of any individual, family or village is not permitted as per law and people doing so are liable for punishment.
According to the Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas Act (PESA), 1996, neither the police nor the administration can interfere in a decision taken by a Scheduled Tribe community. It says the panchayats shall be in conformity with the customary law, social and religious practices. Gram Sabha will safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of people, their cultural identity, community resources and the customary mode of dispute resolution.