Encounter: Odisha Police finally wakes up

Bhubaneswar: Finally, Odisha police appears to have woken up from a deep slumber. Rourkela police struck within 24-hours of the killing of a BJD leader near Rajgangpur to nab the alleged killers belonging to the People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI).  The PLFI’s brazen disregard for law was no longer a hidden secret. It was violating the law with impunity. It was striking at will especially in Sundargarh district and many pertinent questions agitated public minds about the efficacy of the men in khaki.

After the twin kidnappings involving the Italian tourists and Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka were resolved, it was expected that the uniformed personnel would respond resolutely to roll back the Red menace. But Odisha police preferred to remain in the barracks without bothering too much about the assault weapons gathering dust in the armouries. There were genuine apprehensions in the minds of the public whether the police in Odisha were disinclined to enter the forests to flush out the ultras because of sheer indifference or they lacked the fire in the belly to carry the battle into the Naxal camps. The actual reasons may be known to the top brass in the state police headquarters, but it was apparent that the force lacked motivation and leadership to counter the growing challenges.

The Sundargarh encounter is the first resolute action taken by the police in recent months. Actionable intelligence along with Rourkela SP Himansu Lal’s prompt decision to raid the hideout of the miscreants yielded the desired results within 24 hours. The expeditious police action resulted in the killing of a PLFI member. Police recovered huge cache of arms and ammunition from the suspected PLFI hideout to prove beyond doubt that the miscreants were engineering secret plans to unleash a reign of terror along the habitations bordering Sundargarh-Jharkhand border.  Rourkela police, which hogged limelight for the wrong reasons in 2011, seem to have salvaged its reputation by raiding the PLFI hideout.