Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nua Khai is a festival of all communities

Nuakhai--the biggest socio-cultural festival of western part of the state is normally considered as a Hindu festival but it has got equal importance among the people of Christian and Muslim communities. When Hindus offer the new milky rice to their presiding deity, people of other community offer to their respecting gods. People of the region observed Nuakhai on Monday with gaiety and fanfare.

“Since it is an agrarian festival, farmers of the region offer their produce to their respective god and goddess. The festival is observed across the region in respective of caste, creed and religion. It is a thank-giving occasion as the farmer expresses his gratitude to the all-mighty for a good harvesting’, eminent personality of the region Karunakar Supakar told.

Sources said, people of western part of the region have observed Nua Khai on Monday with much gaiety and fanfare. However the colour of the festival was seen faded this year in rural part of the region because of the draught like situation due the poor rain fall and heavy destruction of standing crop by ledapoka (army worms). But the situation gives no impact on several social and cultural associations that organized ‘Bhet Ghat’ to enjoy the occasion in a special way. “We have organized ‘Bhet Ghat’ inside the premise of Samaleswari temple on Monday evening to observe the occasion, several eminent personalities including minister and political leaders have attended and offered their Nua Khai greeting that followed with cultural programme”, the chairman of the Samaleswari trust board Sadashib Mahapatra told. Similar programmes were also organized by the Orissa Sanskrutik Samaj, Lions Club, Chetna Natya Anusthan and western Orissa Kalyan Samiti to mark this occasion.

On the other hand people of the Christian community have celebrated the festival in many parts of the region. Churches are decorated with flowers and colour paper and people gathered inside the church to observe the occasion. “Since it is a local festival we do observe the festival inside the church with mass prayer and feast. Many of our community belong to schedule tribe from Sundergarh and Bolangir district who observe the festival since a long time”, a church official Sujit Fernandez pf Burla informed.

“People of Christian community of several part of the region consider the festival as their own. They offer the new rice to the god on this occasion. People celebrate the occasion with fan fare and marry making while celebrating the occasion among their family members”, the PRO of Sambalpur disese of Catholic father Alfonse Topo told. According to him churches of the region observe Nua Khai after the harvesting of paddy is over. “We do celebrate the occasion of Nua khai but in some other day after the harvesting of the paddy. We offer the new rice to the god and pray for prosperity and wellbeing of every one”, father Topo added.

Even few Muslim family of the region observes the festival in a special way. They take pleasure while observing the festival. ’Nua Khai’ is a festival that gives us immense pleasure. We celebrate the festival in our house cooking many items and pitha, Md. Zamirulla of Remda village of Jharsuguda district told.

draught and caterpillar marred nua khai celeration

The draught-like situation coupled with heavy destruction of paddy due to Ledapoka (swarming caterpillar) has marred ‘Nua khai’ this year scheduled to be observed on coming Monday (24th Aug). Nua Khai, the biggest agrarian festival that celebrates by the farmers of the western Orissa paying gratitude to the presiding deity for a good harvesting. The festival is a thanksgiving ceremony. But this time farmers do not know how to celebrate the occasion when many of them have not even completed the farming due to delay in rain. The farmers of the irrigated areas though completed the farming, are also struggling hard because of the destruction caused by Ledapoka (swarming caterpillar).

“We have struggled hard because of the delay monsoon and Poor rainfall this year. But what ever little hope we have had, now ledapoka has ruined us completely and we do not how to continue our living’, Rabi Pradhan a farmer of worst affected Rengali block of the district said .

Sources said, Sambalpur district has alone 194,000 ha of cultivable land out of which paddy has been sown in more than 60,000 ha so far. While lack of rainfall have turned the paddy fields dry, swarming caterpillars have swarmed over thousands of hectares (ha) of land, completely eating away the green paddy leaves.

“The swarming caterpillar has a capacity to destroy hundreds of hectare overnight as the pest multiplies rapidly and can completely damage crop in a hector of land in one single day. Application of pesticide by farmers has not been able to eliminate the pests as they have already swarmed over a large chunk of areas. So unless government does not take immediate action to check the spreading of the pest, farmers will be left with no option than to commit suicide like Balaram Bhoi of Gulamal”, the farmers’ leader Ashok Pradhan told. It may be mentioned that Balaram Bhoi (42) a marginal farmer was kill-self on 10th this month after he found his paddy completely damaged by the caterpillar.

Sambalpur Deputy Director of Agriculture D.C. Pal said, the situation is under control as we have already started taking all type of preoccupation to check the swarming caterpillars. This is not new in agriculture, but normally it wash away in the rain. This time due to lack of rain, it becomes multiplied and created a havoc," Dhruba Charan Pal said. “We have taken the matter seriously and already spraying pesticide in affected field since 14th August. Already 2443 liters of insect killer liquid have been sprayed through 600 spraying machines, he added.

On the other hand, the pre-nua khai market of various villages has experienced low transaction due to the draught-like situation. “It is a time when we make a good business in the rural weekly markets prior to Nua Khai but this year we do not see any enthusiasm among the farmers. This year we have experienced ever low business”, Binod Sahu, one cloth peddler who moves various rural markets said.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Senier IAS officer killed family and shot self

Senior IAS officer Jagadananda panda and four of his closed relations were found dead in a pool of blood in his native Deogoan village on the early hours of Friday. The village of senior bureaucrat locates on the Bhatli road under Bargarh district, 60 km from here, has experienced most horrible incident that rocked each and every one of the village. Police suspected Panda to have shot himself after he killed 4 of his family members including father Manuswi Panda (81) two sisters Bijaylaximi and Kishori and wife Surekha (50). All including Panda have bullet injuries on heads as he fired from a point close range. His son Swapnesh (sonu) who also sustain bullet injuries on his head how ever rescues and now battling for his survival in the Hospital.
The cold-blooded drama begins at 2 am night after every one went to sleep. It was his neighbour and mother Chandrakanti who was sleeping in the upstairs of the house rushed to the spot after hearing the bullet. But every thing was almost closed in a tragic scene. “When we heard the sound we came at once but the house was locked inside. Mother opened the door after we shouted. It was horrible inside. When we found both Panda and his son Sonu to be alive we took them to the hospital”, his neighbour Artatran Tripathy told
Police rushed to the spot soon after the incident Police sent the body for autopsy. The suicidal notes .33 revolver and other documents, seized by the police from the house were sufficient to know the evil plan of Panda that conceived in his mind since the day he arrived Bhubaneswar on 27th July. Police registered a case and investigation was begun involving forensic and ballistic experts.
Jagadananda Panda, 83 batch of IAS officer of Orissa cadre was presently posted as ‘protocol general of emigration’ in the overseas department of external affairs ministry, New Delhi while he was on deputation. He was the only IAS officer of the state who served as RDC of all three division of the state. He was holding several posts during his service career. But he was quite upset after CBI raided his official residence and office at Delhi a week ago. Though CBI did not disclose any thing of the cause of the raid, but such raid was sufficient for any self esteem officer to become upset. The suicidal notes revealed that he was quite upset after the raid as he things himself innocent and “falsely implicated” in a emigration scam presently CBI has taken up the probe.
Panda took such a decision after landing in Bhubaneswar as he went to one ‘Jena armory’ where he used to keep his revolver. He brought his revolver along with 40 rounds of ammunitions from the shop. He even went to jungle in the private car he hired from Sambalpur where he tested his revolver with 3 blank fire. Panda told to the driver of the taxi that he wanted to test the revolver to know whether it works properly or not. When the frightened driver asked why he need the revolver, Panda to him he needs the revolver as he wanted to hunting, Police said quoting the statement of the driver.
On the other hand the his son Sonu who was admitted in VSS medical college hospital with bullet injuries on his head had undergone several tests. He remained unconscious since the incident took place. “We did CT scan and MRI test. He is now under medical treatment and his condition has been stable”, a doctor of VSS medical College hospital told. Later with the decision of the government he was shifted to Bhubaneswar through a plane in the evening.
Sources said, in the suicidal note seized by police Panda has advocated his innocently but ultimately situation forces him to such an extreme step. He mentioned that he was upset after the CBI raid. ‘Though innocent I was dragged in a case because of false implication. So I took this extreme step” the suicidal note revealed.
“We have recovered the dead bodies of Panda and 4 other family members. We seized the .32 bore pistol from the house. We have also seized a suicidal note and other documents written by late panda before he took this extreme step we have also registered a case u/s 302 (murder), 309 (suicide) and 306 (attempt to kill) IPC and sent the bodies for autopsy’, Mr. Y B Khurania, IG of police (northern range), Sambalpur said.
According to him the preliminary investigation and circumstances point every thing towards Panda who killed one after another and finally killed himself. “Our preliminary investigation shows that Panda, himself has done every thing. He came to his home village with a plan and finally executed it. However, confirmation of the case will be proved only after forensic and ballistic reports. The forensic experts from Sambalpur have already reached to the spot and the ballistic teams are on their way from Bhubaneswar”, Mr. Khurania told.
It may be mentioned here that Panda came Bhubaneswar with his wife and son on 27th July after taking 3 months leave from the secretary. He was totally upset after the CBI raid on his house and office. As usual he went to Jena armory, where he uses to keep his licensed revolver. He brought the revolver and purchased 40 rounds of cartridges. On 28th he back to his house in a taxi along with his wife and son.
“He even went to a secluded place 7 km away form his village in a car on Thursday till give a final shape to his evil by testing the revolver with 3 round gun fire. He told the driver that he wanted to “hunt’ when driver puts quarry on the blank fire”, quoting the driver IG of police Mr. Khurania told.
The death of panda has left every one baffle as he was a gentle and polish behaved persons. While he was in Sambalpur as RDC few years back he started a campaign of clean Sambalpur when he went in bicycle along with others activists to create awareness. “I was totally shocked to hear the news I talked to him just on 27th July the day he came to Bhubaneswar. He never disclosed me that he was so upset. He was even planned for a feast during nua khai. I can not believe a person like him would involve in any scam or illegal act”, Bijay Pradhan, lecturer of Rengali college and one of his college friend. Panda graduated in GM College, Sambalpur and Post graduation in JNU, New Delhi. He joined IAS in 1983 and became the sub-collector of Dharmagarh (Kalahandi). He holds several key posts including the RDC of all three divisions and relief commissioner before he went to New Delhi on Deputation.