MAC: Mines and Communities

Indian villagers march against POSCO oppression

Published by MAC on 2012-01-10
Source: POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, Times News of India

Kalinganagar massacre anniversary also commemorated

As 2012 opened, 2000 villagers in the POSCO concession area of Orissa, protested against further repression against leaders of the local movement and pledged to halt the project.

Elsewhere in Orissa, more than 2,000 tribal people organised a rally marking the sixth anniversary of the Kalinganagar massacre, in which 14 tribals, including three women, were killed.

For previous MAC POSCO posting: India: Vicious attack against POSCO opponents triggers urgent demands

For Kalinga Nagar's previous MAC coverage see: Kalingnagar Update: Global Consensus On Project Oustees Ignored: Expert

Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiiti

4 January 2012

On the 2nd of January 2012, around 2000 villagers gathered at Balitikiri, Govindpur village boarder in protest against the illegal arrest of our leader Mr. Abhaya Sahoo, Mr. Narayan Reddy and Mr. Jayant Biswal. We demanded that all the false cases against our leaders should be immediately withdrawn. This protest was organized in view of the Prime minister's recent visit to Odisha on 3rd January 2012.

In gathering on 2nd January, the peaceful democratic protestors gathered to reiterate that our area is not meant for industry. This is fertile agricultural land with a self reliant economy that feeds urban India which cannot be put to any other use. Let the Prime Minister and Chief Minister come and see it for themselves.

The police have now virtually cordoned our area and are now hunting innocent people for the ‘crime' of democratic peaceful protest. Our people cannot even access the nearest market for the medical treatment. Our people are in dire need of doctors and medicines and we need your help as the health conditions in our area continue to deteriorate.

We earnestly request that all of our supporters consider arranging to send medical teams to the area through donations or direct assistance of medical personnel, equipment, supplies and medicine.

We repeat, we will continue to fight against the forceful usurpation of our land and livelihood.

Attached herewith is the resolution of the all party meeting held on 30th Of December 2011 at Lohia Academy, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

We shall inform you the ongoing development here. Looking forward to your kind support.

In solidarity,

Prashant Paikary

Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti

Mobile no - 09437571547

Resolution of the People's Convention at Lohia Academy, Bhubaneswar, Odisha on 30th December 2011

On behalf of the POSCO Pratirodh Co-Ordination Committee, a people's convention was organised at Lohia Academy in Bhubaneswar, The leaders and representatives of different political parties and civil societies made following resolutions in the convention.

For the last six years the state government under the aegis of Navin Pattnaik, has been carrying out repression and atrocities on the people of the region. Government repression has been compounded by the anti-people policies. This convention condemns these illegitimate practices of the government. In the supposed name of national interest the POSCO project will cause destruction of the regions flora, fauna and will eliminate community resources shared by the inhabitants of this area for millennia.

It is a shame to sabotage the peaceful democratic resistance of the people to protect their livihood. In this process the government machinery is working hand in glove with corporate actors and using violent means to thwart the democratic process.

The most recent condemnable violent incident on 14/12/2011- a peaceful demonstration against the construction of the coastal road, was marred by violence perpetuated by government sponsored private militia. The anti-posco protesters were attacked with arms and bombs. As a result of this incident, one person was killed. The irony of this murder is that instead of charging the goons and lumpen and militia, government officials have framed charges against the innocent villagers and their leaders. In the same incident, Narayan Reddy and Jayanta Biswal have been arrested and charged with false cases of instigating violence. This convention strongly resents this move of the government and demands for the immediate release of the detainees.

This convention also demands that the government will take immediate action against the real culprits who staged the violence on 14th of December 2011 and the withdrawal of all false charges framed on the villagers of the region.

In the six years of the peoples struggle to save their own homeland and culture, the region has seen every violation of human rights by the state and the corporate actors. Thus the convention has made a call to everyone who stands in solidarity with the people of the region to work collectively.

The committee has also taken a strong resolve to organise ‘peoples conventions' across the state of Odisha, to build the peoples collective consciousness on the issues and bring out a collective voice.

The convention also demands for the immediate release of Abhay Sahoo the PPSS leader who has been put in detention with false charges.

The convention also demands a detailed enquiry into all past and present cases under the supervision of the Director General (DG) of Police. All political crimes surrounding the POSCO project under the superintendent of police (SP) of the Jagatsinghpur district should be transferred to the supervision of the Director General (DG) of Police.

The committee has also decided to meet the Home secretary and the DG of Police at the earliest.

Represented by,

Abani Boral

Gobardhan Pujari

Panchanan Kanango

Bijay Nayak

Rabi Das

Pradyumna Satpathy

Prafulla Smathray

Suribandhu Kar

Statement from representatives of various organizations on the violent attack on anti-POSCO protestors on 14th December 2011 and its aftermath

24 December 2011

We, the undersigned, visited Gobindpur, Dhinkia and Patna villages of Jagatsinhpur district of Orissa, on 22nd December, where the villagers are peacefully resisting the proposed POSCO steel plant for the last six years in order to protect their lands and livelihoods from complete destruction. Our visit was in the aftermath of the incidents of 14th December 2011, during which the peaceful protest against the construction of the coastal road connecting Paradip port to the proposed site of the POSCO steel plant, was viciously and unexpectedly attacked with country-made bombs by hired goons of the local contractor Bapi Circle, who is a known criminal with many pending cases in Odisha. In the process, many protesting villagers, including elderly women, were badly injured.

One of the men hired by Bapi Circle was also killed by being accidentally hit with a bomb thrown by his own associates. After this heinous incident, the state government has slapped false charges of murder (Sec 302 of the Indian Penal Code) against 11 key activists of the Posco Protirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), including some who were not even present at the time of the attack. Charges have also been brought against "150 other" unnamed villagers. Since our visit, Narayan Reddy from CPI who has been supporting the struggle has been arrested on 23rd December under false charges.

This is in continuation with the atrocious practice of slapping false cases against PPSS activists and supporters that has been going on for the last six years, and which now number in the thousands. Fearing arrests, people are unable to leave the villages and access much required medical care and engage in regular economic activities which has taken a terrible toll on their lives and livelihoods.

It should be mentioned in this context that the building of the coastal road was initiated in a completely illegal manner, with no MoU currently existing between POSCO and the Odisha government; irregularities in awarding the benami contract to Paradip Paribahan, which is allegedly controlled by Bapi Circle, is widely known.

It is shocking that the contractor could go ahead with building the coastal road and engineer the attack by hired goons, allegedly with active government support, when these illegalities are well known. This is again in line with the entire trajectory of the POSCO project, which has been mired in all sorts of illegal actions over the past six years. Three separate government-appointed committees that investigated various aspects of the POSCO project found that the state and central governments are robbing people's land in violation of the Forest Rights Act; an official enquiry found that the environmental clearance process was 'farcical'; and independent economists have established that there is no benefit from this project to the State or the Indian economy.

We, on our visit, witnessed the direct effects of the state's high-handedness and its complicity in the physical and economic violence being perpetrated against the legitimate struggle of the people against the POSCO project. We demand:

- An immediate judicial enquiry into the attacks on 14th December 2011.

- Withdrawal of the all newly-filed and previous false cases against villagers and PPSS activists.

Signed by:

Madhumita Dutta, Asit Das, POSCO Protirodh Solidarity

Partho Sarothi Ray, Sudipto Muhuri, Siddhartha Mitra, Sanhati

Sirisha Naidu, Mining Zone Peoples Solidarity Group

Lakshmi Premkumar, Delhi Forum

Pramodini Pradhan, Peoples' Union for Civil Liberties-Odisha

2000 tribals rally in Kalinga Nagar

Times News of India

3 January 2012

KENDRAPADA: Over 2,000 tribals took out a rally at Kalinga Nagar on Monday to mark the sixth anniversary of police firing in which 14 tribals, including three women, were killed. Six years ago, police fired at tribals protesting against forcible occupation of land and their consequent displacement. The immediate provocation then was construction of a boundary wall by Tata Steel for its six million tonnes steel plant.

On Monday, the anti-industry groups under the banner of Bisthapan Birodhi Janamanch (BBJM) took out a rally from 'martyrs column' in Champakoila village to Veerbhumi at Ambagadia, where the tribals had been killed and vowed not to spare an inch of land for the steel plant. Family members and relatives of firing victims offered rituals at Ambagadia also.

Prafulla Samantray, an anti-land acquisition leader and president of Lokshakti Abhijan, accused chief minister Naveen Patnaik of working for private industrial houses at the cost of the masses, who voted him to power. He said Naveen is least interested in the development of tribals. "He has not bothered to visit Kalinga Nagar even after six years of the firing speaks volumes of his mindset," he said.

"Odisha has about 97 per cent chromite, 71 per cent bauxite, 33 per cent iron ore and 32 per cent manganese resources of India. As commodity prices soar, international companies are eyeing this mineral bounty, much of which is in tribal territory," said Mahendra Parida, a leader of CPIML (Liberation).

The anti-industry leaders vowed not to allow industries. "We won't tolerate torture of innocent tribals. There shouldn't be any industry at the cost of tribals and their livelihood. Our fight against industrialisation will continue till the government changes its decision to set up industries on farm land. Fourteen of our fellowmen sacrificed their lives for the cause of tribals. We are ready to die but will not spare an inch of land for industry," said Rabindra Jarika, secretary of BBJM.

On the other hand, about 800 people led by Visthapita Parivar Unnayan Parishad, a pro-industry outfit participated in a rally at Tata's rehabilitation colony at Gobarahat village. They were led by president Dhaneswar Soi and secretary Biren Jamuda.

Though the two parallel meetings were held at a short distance of each other, there was no clash between the rival groups. "The rally and meetings passed off peacefully. We deployed six platoons of police force to check any untoward incident," said K C Mund, the police officer of Kalinganagar police station.

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