Rayagada: Vehicular traffic came to a grinding halt and streets wore a deserted look with government and private establishments shutting down as the District Adivasi Mahasangha and members of BJP began their 12-hour bandh over the alleged murder of a physically challenged tribal warden in Odisha’s Rayagada district here today.
Seeking justice against torture and murder of tribal people, the agitators demanded a CBI probe into not just the case of the warden but two other alleged murders of tribal leaders which took place in the district.
On December 21, the semi-nude body of Laxmi Majhi was recovered from hospital premises. Majhi, a resident of Naketiguda village in Tikiri panchayat of Kashipur block, had been working as a warden at Maa Gruha in Chandrapur for the last five years. On the fateful day, she had left Maa Gruha at around 4 pm. Hours later, her fellow workers found her half charred body and informed Majhi’s family who alleged that she had been murdered. Prior to that, tribal youth leaders Bhagirathi Mandangi and Purushottam Gamango were allegedly killed in December 2010 and December 2019, respectively.
Following Majhi’s death, the Zilla Adivasi Mahasangh and later the BJP Mahila Morcha had staged protests alleging police inaction and announced a bandh on January 5. “Its been 16 days since Chandrapur warden Laxmi Majhi was found dead but police and Crimbe Branch have not yet nabbed the accused. This is not an isolated case. First BJD leader Bhagirathi Mandangi, then Purushottam Gamango and now Majhi. There has been no headway in their death investigations.We want justice for these people and demand a CBI probe into the three murders,” the protestors had stated
The outfit, which announced the bandh on December 30, also warned that they will intensify their agitation if the families of the deceased do not get justice and will hold the district administration responsible for any untoward incidents in future.
On December 29, the Odisha Crime Branch initiated its inquiry at the ‘Maa Gruha,’ where Laxmi Majhi served as a warden. The team, led by DSP Narendra Behera had questioned four colleagues and the organisation’s director Nrusinghanath Mohapatra apart from some neighbours.
Initial findings had indicated that Majhi, who was allegedly killed on December 21, might have been murdered elsewhere before her body was set on fire near Maa Gruha, potentially to erase crucial evidence.