Jhina Hikaka, the BJD MLA who was abducted by Maoists in 2012 and kept in captivity for a month before being released, may not have visited his constituency Laxmipur since then but the locals bat for him nevertheless.
BJD MLA from Laxmipur and now Koraput Lok Sabha contestant Jhina Hikaka minutes after his release from 33 days of Maoist captivity on April 26, 2012. (HT file photo/Priya Ranjan Sahu)
“We are with Hikaka because for the first time someone from Laxmipur is fighting for Koraput seat,” said Chitrasen Bisoi, a youth working for a local NGO.
Support for Hikaka, a 39-year-old law graduate, is more visible in his native village Dumuripadar, a few kilometers away, though people admit he has neglected the village.
The road to Dumuripadar is half constructed and full of pot holes. “Water problem is acute as only two of the six hand pumps work.
The residential school building for tribal girls is in a dilapidated condition,” said Nakula Bisoi, another local.
Hikaka, however, asserts what Congress could not do in 60 years he has achieved in five years. “I could not visit my area due to security reasons, but my party workers have done everything on my behalf,” Hikaka told HT. A majority of 400 families of his village, most being Hikaka’s clansmen, seem to give him the benefit of doubt saying he could not do a lot of things due to Maoist threat.
A group of Maoists abducted him on March 24, 2012 from Tayaput near his village, about 600km southwest of Bhubaneswar. They kept him in captivity for 33 days, but released him after he gave “word” to a rebel kangaroo court that he would resign as MLA.
Hikaka did not, but fearing reprisal from Maoists relocated to a Bhubaneswar.