Abducted by Maoists and released after 33 days, Odisha MLA Jhina Hikaka is now a prisoner of circumstances.
The fear of reprisal from Maoists for not resigning after giving his “word” — at a kangaroo court during captivity — has forced the tribal MLA to relocate from Koraput district in southern Odisha to a fortified house more than 600 km away in capital Bhubaneswar.The ruling BJD MLA from Laxmipur (Koraput) "would not like to comment" on the Maoist diktat having uprooted him from his rural moorings, but the state has ensured that his wife and two sons joined him in Bhubaneswar.
Hikaka has not gone home to Dumripadar village, considered a Maoist stronghold, in Laxmipur after meeting his mother on April 26, the day his captors released him.
“I will go to my constituency soon,” Hikaka told HT over phone from Bhubaneswar. He could not say when.
Asked if he was scared, the 37-year-old said, “What good will come out of being scared. We have to face whatever life has in store for us.”
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik has ruled out the possibility of Hikaka resigning and thrown a protective cordon around his MLA.
Hikaka has been moved from the MLA colony to an independent house, where the height of the boundary walls has been raised. Security personnel man strategically placed barricades and Hikaka has round-the-clock security.
His wife, Kausalya Majhi, who was a para teacher at a primary school in Laxmipur, has been transferred to an office in the capital, where their children now attend school.
Hikaka is the second Odisha legislator who has made Bhubaneswar home under Maoist pressure. Earlier, Arabinda Dhali, a former BJP MLA from Malkangiri — another Maoist bastion in southern Odisha — moved to the capital after rebels tried to kill him. Dhali is now a BJD MLA.