Akhand is an Independent grass-root rural Journalist and Human Rights Defender from India. He is the one of the founding members of India Media Centre (IMC), which works for the upliftment of the marginalised sections of the society and protection of their human rights. He leads a cultural movement for peace and national integration and a campaign to stop violence against women (i.e. Campaign Jyoti) in India’s eastern coastal state of Odisha. Akhand has been providing direct free legal assistance to the victim or his/her family members in case of Human Rights Violation through direct intervention. He approaches National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights commission on behalf of the victim or his/her family. He also fights for Human rights violation in various other forms where public is directly or indirectly affected. Till now more than 7000 persons have benefitted directly by the intervention of Akhand and more than millions of people are the beneficiaries in view of policy making after the judgment of Apex rights panel i.e. National Human Rigths Commission (NHRC).
Akhand was born in a higher caste Hindu Brahmin family, to Banamali Mishra and Bidulata Mihra, on June 17, 1978. He did his bachelor’s course in Science from S.C.S.college, a reputed college of the Odisha under Utkal University in 1998. Then he opted for Journalism and completed Post Graduate Diploma from Indira Gandhi National Open University(IGNOU) in 2000. He also have a master Degree in Rural Development from Same University. Akhand is also a Law Graduate.
Akhand married Kalpana Mishra, a teacher, on 12 March 2006 and has a 5 year old son, Astik Aviyan.
He started working for mainstream media in 2000, after completing Post Graduate Diploma from IGNOU in Journalism. Right from the start, he concentrated on socio-political issues and on the margins of society. When reporting on issues such as Rural Development , poverty and Womens role in Panchayat Raj, he found that questions of political responsibility and gender-related discrimination became increasingly important to him. As a result he became active with the “Odisha Union of Journalists”.
Death Threat and hiding for his work
In 2005, Akhand founded the India Media Centre (IMC) in 2005, along with his brother, Advocate Nishikanta Mishra and Sanskrit scholar and Social engineer Dr. Sadanada Diskhita. He started human rights campaign in media and writing various articles against crime and corruption. But he had been threatened, defamed and harassed because of his work defending human rights. In 2007, he was forced to hiding after death threat of Local tented politician and his supporters . They threatened to kill him because of his journalistic work. The problems began when he investigated the alleged involvement of a senior politician in criminal activities, including murder and corruption, for regional newspaper. On July 9 and July 10 supporters of the politician apparently threatened over phone to kill him, following the publication of the article. He was concerned about the plight of his 27-year old wife and his son of just two months , whom he was “forced” to leave behind in his village, just outside Orissa’s capital Bhubaneswar. But Police had not taken any action to arrest the culprit. Human rights defenders and rights organisations in the country believe he would have been killed but for the national outcry. That time also he uncovered several cases of persecution of Christian believers and others in the state of Orissa. He played for instance a key role in coverage surrounding the murder of Australian missionary Graham Steines and his two young sons, who were killed by an angry mob in the state of Orissa. He was writing in his original name Satya Sundar Mishra. After this incident he uses and identified with his shadow name Akhand for all purposes.
Cultural Movement for peace and national integration
In 2005, Akhand started a cultural festival Daya Mahotsava for peace and national integration through India Media Centre in his community, Pipili, which experienced a lot of political violence and communal tension those days. It named after river DAYA (Near Dhauligiri Hills), where historical Kalinga war was fought. Kalinga is the best known in ancient history for its brave resistance against the invasion of Mauryan King Ashoka in the 3rd century B.C., who ultimately conquered it. Emperor Ashoka became ‘Dharmasoka’ from ‘Chandasoka’ and preached non-violence . The river ‘DAYA’ witnessed all these history. On the Dhauligiri Hills a very modern monument of World peace, the Viswa Shanti Stupa was built. So this festival was a unique way to establish peace in the community. Now this festival successfully completed seven years of its journey and represents traditional knowledge in a grassroots way. It means that the decisions made, while planning the festival ideally reflect the views of many individuals within local community who are intimately connected with the traditions on display. We are producing festivals with due attention to Regional groups of different sects and religions. State Government and other organization also support this cause for peace.
Attempt to kill him for his works
Akhand was brutally attacked by a ruling political party member, because he had brought into the open the latter’s illicit timber trade in a regional TV news channel and other media, especially when a highly valuable and ancient tree fell prey to his avarice. The accused attempted to murder Akhand on June 9, 2010, but the police has been sleeping over the FIR filed by Akhand. On the contrary, officials in the police station intentionally gave an opportunity to the accused to escape. Then Akhand filed a petition in the Odisha High Court against police inaction. The High Court in turn ordered the police to arrest the culprit. But by then, the accused had got bail and has been moving about freely.
Legal assistance to thousands of people
Akhand has been providing direct free legal assistance to the victim or his/her family members in case of Human Rights Violation through direct intervention. He approaches National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights commission on behalf of the victim or his/her family. He also fights for Human rights violation in various other forms where public is directly or indirectly affected. Till now more than 7000 persons have benefitted directly by the intervention of Akhand and more than millions of people are the beneficiaries in view of policy making after the judgment of Apex rights panel i.e. National Human Rigths Commission (NHRC).
Fight for Dignity to vulnerable tribal groups :
In January, 2012, Akhand complained before NHRC against Tour Operators offering Human Safari concept to foreign as well as domestic tourists. Pursuant to the directions of the Commission, the Principal Secretary to the Government of Odisha, Tourism & Culture Department, has sent his report dated 04.10.2012. The State Government had issued guidelines restricting entry of foreign tourists in the areas inhabited by primitive tribes (now named as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups), including Bonda tribals of undivided Koraput District, as far as back in the year 1987. All the Collectors and SPs had been asked to take action in letter and spirit. However, the inquiry report dated 31.01.2012 of Smt. Usha Padhee, Additional Secretary to the Government of Odisha, Panchayati Raj Department, who was deputed by the State Government to conduct an inquiry, shows that the practice is still in vogue. The district officials have done nothing to stop the menace except issuing office orders. Smt. Padhee has suggested some short-term as well as long-term measures and says at the and as follows : “However, a comprehensive approach may be prepared in consultation with all concerned Departments at the State level to formulate the strategies for a fast track development in this PVTC area on priority”. The Commission has carefully gone through the report of the Principal Secretary, Tourism & Culture Department, and annexure to the report. Rules and orders are already in place to check the nefarious activities of the greedy Tour Operators. What is needed is their strict implementation. Any district official found guilty of the dereliction of duty in this regard should be dealt with promptly and adequately. It is the duty of the State Government to see that all the laws and rules protecting the tribals of their dignity are used to their fullest extent. The Commission ordered to the Chief Secretary to the Government of Odisha, to take adequate steps to stem the rot and also devise and implement developmental programmes for the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups.
Massive awareness and signature campaign
Recently in this year (2013), Akhand has initiated a unique massive awareness and signature program in state of odisha to stop crime against women. Awareness medium like leaflet, posters etc. are used for a strong impact on public mind. They are swearing in never to commit, never to involve, never to excuse, and never to remain silent, about Violence against women, Female feoticide, Gender inequality, Domestic Violence and Harassment at workplace and put their signature in the specific form. This Campaign is being organized in school/colleges, cities and villages. Various rights organization, students and youth leaders, Social activists and women activist are supporting this campaign. Inauguration Function of this campaign was organized at state capital city Bhubaneswar on 7th March, 2013 (day before International women day). More than 500 people of different sections attended this conference and participated in swearing ceremony to fight against women violence. Local MP, Mayor and other intellectuals and women leaders are present and spoke on this occasion. Now this Campaign is being organized in different parts of the state.
New Policy for women in national capital Delhi
A twenty-three-year old woman was brutally gang-raped in a moving bus in Indian Capital City New Delhi on December 16, 2012 and died later. First, Akhand filled a petition before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). However, the Commission also took suo-motu cognizance in this case. Order of this case has made a drastic change in policy making for women in the Capital city. After the intervention of NHRC, police arrested all the accused persons and after completion of investigation, charge-sheet has been filed before the concerned Court. To prevent crime against women, the following measures had been taken. i. The Delhi Police has issued orders directing the BPOs, Corporate and Media Houses for taking certain steps for the safety and security of women employees like ensuring that they do not travel alone in the cab and are dropped right at their door steps. ii. Women Help Desks have been established in each Police Stations to ensure that distressed women can comfortably share their complaint with women officers deployed at such help desks. iii. Safety of women in Railways and Metros has been intensified. iv. Legal awareness programmes have been organized for police personnel in association with reputed NGOs to create a “Gender friendly Environment” in police stations. v. Civic agencies have been informed about poor street lighting of dysfunctional lamp posts. Routes taken by women returning from work at late night are being covered by ERVs & PCR vehicles as well as police patrol motorcycle. All PCR vans have been directed to help stranded women during night hours. vi. Delhi Police has initiated several initiatives such as “Yuva” to engage young adults in positive activities and self defence courses for women through “Swayam”. vii. Standing guidelines for investigation of women related cases has been issued. All women related cases would be investigated by women police officers. DNA profiling in gang rape cases has been made mandatory. viii. Dedicated telephones are being provided to all the Police Stations for Women Help Desk. ix. Special Commissioner of Police level nodal officer is appointed for monitoring the complaints by women and interaction with women NGOs on last Friday of every month.
Prize from Neheru Yuva Kendra,Puri for his writings in various topics.
Utkal Samaja Award for Science Writing on social happiness.
Dibakar Mansingh Memorial prize for literary works.
Sarojini Naidu Prize for Development Reporting on Women’s Role in Panchayati Raj System in Indian(2008)
Kalinga Book Fair Writer Award for his book political love (2011)