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‘Ghenua’ proves irksome to police

Sib Kumar Das

BERHAMPUR: ‘Ghenua’, a character in the famous short story ‘Shikar’, written by Bhagabati Charan Panigrahi, has become a headache for the police in Narayanpatna block of Koraput district in south Orissa.

Activists of the ‘Ghenua Bahini’, the frontal militant organisation of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) allegedly fired at the policemen involved in combing operation at Podapadar village of Narayanpatna block on Wednesday.

According to the Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) of Laxmipur, Y. Jagannath Rao, around ten rounds were fired from country guns at the police force. Police retaliated by lobbing teargas shells. No one was injured.

Twenty activists of CMAS and ‘Ghenua Bahini’ were arrested. It increased the total number of arrests following the incidents that led to police firing and killing of two CMAs activists at Narayanpatna on Friday last to 57. Mr. Rao said the members of ‘Ghenua Bahini’ had similarly fired from country guns at the police near Narikhelua village on Monday.

Main protagonist

Mrinal Sen had transformed the short story ‘Shikar’ into a critically acclaimed movie ‘Mrigaya’. The story portrayed the relationship between the British colonialists and native villagers, and their exploitation by Indian landlords in 1920s India. Ghenua, the main protagonist of the story was a poor peasant who chops off his exploitive landlord’s head and reports to the police hoping to be rewarded for his ‘noble deed’. Its writer Bhagabati Charan Panigrahi is said to be the founder of Marxist leftist movement in Orissa. He had used this story as a metaphor for tribal uprising against exploitation. Panigrahi is said to have taken the name ‘Ghenua’ from a tribal myth of Orissa. As per this myth, militant tribals named ‘Ghenua’ had helped Lord Ram Chandra in his fight against demons during his stay in Dandakaranya.

The CMAS had preferred to use the ‘Ghenua’ metaphor to build up its alleged militant wing ‘Ghenua Bahini’. Wadeka Singanna, who was among the two persons killed in police firing on Friday last, headed this wing. This wing had its uniform in the form of red shirt, red shorts and red bandanna.

According to police officials, the members of this wing had received arms and drill training. “We suspect Maoists may have got involved in the training process,” said Mr. Rao. This wing played a major role in the attacks on non-tribals for the take over of agricultural land by CMAS in Narayanpatna block.

They served as protective cover around the leaders of the CMAS and provided intelligence about police movement in the area. The members of the ‘Ghenua Bahini’ claimed to be maintainer of law and order in the rule of CMAS in Narayanpatna block, police officials alleged.

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