Blood on Many Hands: URGENT ALERT re Kalinganagar massacrePublished by MAC on 2006-01-05
Blood on Many Hands: URGENT ALERT re Kalinganagar massacre
5th January 2006
* Please sign on to the Open Letter below *
Last Monday, reports began emerging from the Indian state of Orissa that at least twelve - and possibly more - Indigenous women and men had been killed earlier that day by police at a place called Kalinganagar. The Adivasis ("tribals") had gathered to protest at the ceremonial opening of a boundary wall for a new steel plant to be operated by India's most powerful industrial conglomerate, Tata. They were met with tear gas, bullets, and other extreme violence.
While there are still conflicting estimates of the numbers of people shot dead, or wounded, there is no doubt that this is the most appalling "incident" of its kind to have blighted India for some years.
It overshadows the Maikanch murders of December 2000, when three young tribal men were shot dead by police as they demonstrated against the Utkal aluminium joint venture between Canada's Alcan, and India's Hindalco.
The Mines and Communities board (editors of this site) has consistently supported our Indian colleagues in exposing the impacts on India's aboriginal communities of escalating "development" aggression by mining companies and governments, both state and central. On the very day of the atrocities in Kalinganagar, MAC decried the "blatant disregard of tribal peoples' rights" deriving from this "minerals rush."
Although we could not predict exactly where, and against whom, the next axe would fall, sooner rather than later there was bound to be another deadly confrontation between land custodians and the authorities. It was most likely to occur in Orissa, but could also have struck communities fighting for their resources, or adequate compensation, in the nearby states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
In several statements of outrage issued over the past few days, the operations of Vedanta Resources plc have figured the most prominently as a precursor to this week's events. Just last month, the UK-based company announced plans for a huge US$2.1 billion aluminium complex, to smelt alumina from the refinery in Orissa's Lanjigarh district. Vedanta is now rushing to complete the refinery, in flagrant violation of demands that it desist, made last September by a committee of India's Supreme Court as well as local communities.
Other companies are also lurking in the wings behind Vedanta, no doubt awaiting the outcome of what has been a two-year battle between Khond Adivasis along with their supporters, and the company, backed by the state government. These foreign contenders for Orissa's spoils include BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Alcan, Mittal and Posco: respectively the world's two biggest mining companies, the second most important integrated aluminium producer, and the two leading steel firms.
It was no accident that the International Mining Caucus, held in mid-December to coincide with the World Trade Organisation's Hong Kong ministerial meeting, mounted a demonstration focussed specifically on the Maikanch killings in Orissa.
No-one has yet been brought to account for these unlawful deaths.
While the Indian government has presented itself as a "leader" of the third world in the so-called "Doha Round" of trade re-negotiations, it has actually capitulated to most of the key demands made by rich countries and their industries - at least when it comes to accessing resources and profiting from their import and export.
Tata itself is now a multinational in all but name: it has been training what it calls "WTO evangelists" (sic), in order to benefit from any future agreements on NAMA - the putative treaty for Non-Agricultural market access. It is also the most multinational of India's domestic companies, when it comes to acquiring resources, employing labour, and gaining profits overseas. The Tata-Tetley combine is now the biggest deliverer of tea to both the UK and India. Tata has bought into other natural resource companies and joint ventures in Bangladesh, Iran, Australia, Germany and elsewhere.
As recognised by the Hong Kong International Mining Caucus, the minerals industry did not need to loudly beat its drum at last month's WTO meeting. Apart from some further concessions sought under GATS (the General Agreement on Trade in Services), big mining companies already have most of what they want. They got their laisser-passers (if not laisser faires) from the World Bank in the early nineties, under the second phase of Structural Adjustment Programmes. That was when the three-legged beast - "globalisation" - slunk forth under the auspices of the world's most influential "development agency" in order to stalk mineral-rich economies in the generic South.
"Liberalisation" (opening the door to foreign investment); "privatisation" (sequestering state-owned mining assets); and "deregulation" (the evisceration of nominally self-protecting mining codes), hit some countries earlier and stronger than others. Initially the Indian government refused to incorporate wholesale the kind of legislation then foisted on Peru, Ghana, the Philippines and dozens of other states. But now, India's political elite has all but capitulated. Not least, this is due to the connivance of Britain's Department for International Development (DIFID), which has made a special play for Orissa and Andhra Pradesh; in the process, turning an unseeing eye to the rank corruptness that is partly an outcome of its largesse.
In a grotesque form of "trickle down", the destructive consequences of this warped globalising/de-nationaising" process are now impacting hardest at the village level. Here, we may witness the absolute subtraction of a community's land, water, clean air, minerals and forests, cultural cohesiveness and spiritual sanctuary - even while the corporate mantrists of "sustainable development" are vigorously arguing the opposite.
What (an often literally bloody) nonsense that argument is! If ever there were a compelling case for declaring a moratorum on all new large-scale minerals ventures, pending a nationwide and truly democratic assessment which is anchored in the constitutional rights of the poorest and most out-cast citizens, then it surely applies to India today.
[Comment by Nostromo Research, London, 4th January 2006]
Below, we publish various reports, and three Open Letters, relating to events at Kalinganagar and their immediate aftermath.
* The organisers of this OPEN LETTER welcome additional signatures from outside India.
4th January 2006
"Industrialisation through the barrel of a gun"
On January 4th a number of highly reputed Indian environmental and human rights campaigners sent an urgent Open Letter to the country's president, in an attempt to "bring out the issue and instances of corporate-sponsored, state-executed violence all across the country." The letter specifically cites police action against indigenous protestors against resource extractive projects in the "tribal" states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarch, as well as Orissa. UK-based Vedanta and Jindal are indicted along with Tata:
To: The Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister of India
Room No. 152, South Block,
New Delhi - 110 001
Tel: +91 11 23012312 / 23013149 / 23019545
Fax: +91 11 23016857
To send a message by e-mail, please copy, then paste the text below on:
It is with great distress that we are writing to you to protest the mindless oppression and killings of adivasis in the states of Orissa, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh in the name of industrialisation. We are aware that you are an ardent advocate of industrialisation, foreign investment and of World Bank prescriptions on liberalised environmental, labour and human rights regulations. But we believe that even you would balk at the pattern of state-sponsored violence against adivasis interested merely in protecting their way of life, their lands and their environment. How is it that the very people who are touted as the beneficiaries of industrialisation are shot and killed?
On 2 January, 2006, the Orissa state police opened fire and killed at least 12 adivasis who had gathered to oppose the Bhumi Pooja being conducted by TISCO (Tata Iron and Steel Co.) at the site of its proposed steel plant in Kalinganagar, Orissa. Initial visits by civil society fact finding teams indicate that the incidence was precipitated deliberately by the state and district administration, to crush the consistent resistance by displaced adivasis of Kalinganagar against setting up of industries on their lands.
The firing comes less than 15 days after the adivasis of Kashipur, Orissa, observed Martyr's Day on 17 December to mark the fifth anniversary of the killing of three youths from Kocheipadar by police during a peacable demonstration against the Utkal Alumina Plant proposed to be set up over their lands and sacred sites without their consent.
The adivasis were constrained to observe Martyr's Day under heavy police presence and those interested in visiting Kashipur to join the adivasis in solidarity had to slip through police lines like common criminals. The leaders of Independent India have denied us even the right to mourn our dead with dignity.
It is shameful that we, as citizens, and you as the chief executive of the country and the heads of State Governments across the country are unable to stop this industry-driven genocide. Your Government, which glibly sets up committees to enquire into one state-sponsored violence or the other, does not have the courage to challenge criminal corporations like Vedanta Alumina that have illegally built entire factory complexes on forest land in Lanjigarh and Chattisgarh, or like Jindal in Chattisgarh that has diverted an entire river and built a dam across it without permission.
At a time when corporate CEOs such as Bill Gates and Lakshmi Mittal are treated as visiting royalties, and attended upon by Union Ministers and Chief Ministers of State, is it unreasonable for common people to assume that the loyalties of the state no longer lie with the common person?
Chief Minister Nabin Pattanaik is reported to have stated that he will not allow anybody to come in the way of industrialisation in Orissa. The Secretary to the Ministry of Environment has stated that environmental regulations are being modified upon the instructions of the World Bank. These modifications are geared to expedite investments and limit public participation.
Clearly, the killings in Orissa are not an isolated incident but a pattern of corporate-sponsored, state-executed violence upon the people of India. On 15 December, 2005, three people were gunned down and 33 indigenous people, including children, were injured when the Indian Army opened fire on a crowd gathered at the site of Khuga Multipurpose Dam Project in Manipur to demand compensation for the lands taken forcibly from them by the Indian Government.
All this flies in the face of claims to good governance that your Government is making in international fora. Rest assured that as long as industrialisation has to flow through the barrel of a gun as it seems to in Central and Northeast India, investors will increasingly run shy of India because we, its people, will protest and fight the proposals at every turn and will increase the risks to an extent that will render the investments unviable.
Adivasis across India and the indigenous peoples of the Northeast have consistently opposed the industrialisation and corporate-led development proposed by elite politicians like yourself and Shri Nabin Pattanaik.
The incidents in Orissa and other states not only violate the basic human and democratic rights of adivasies as citizens of the country, but also the constitutional protection provided to tribals in Schedule V and VI. As the history of this country will attest, bullets are not likely to stop the resentment of the millions who do not share your vision of development.
We are one with our brothers and sisters, and the courageous adivasis and indigenous people of India, in denouncing the pro-rich politics practiced by you and our other politicians. In the current instance of killings in Jajpur, we demand:
a) Immediate dismissal of the district level officials responsible for the criminal killing of adibasies at Kalinganagar and initiation of criminal proceedings against them.
b) Criminal proceedings against the officials of TATA Steel responsible for the Bhumi Pujan
c) Immediate moratorium on all land acquisition which affects tribals, specially in the scheduled areas.
d) Scrapping of the Land acquisition Act, 1894, and its replacement by a democratic and humane law which incorporates "consent" for land acquisition.
e) An independent and time-bound judicial probe led by a sitting judge of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, including into aspects relating to whether or not due process and public consultation has been followed by Tatas in Kalinganagar.
1. Dr. PR Arun, Environmental Justice Initiative, Mumbai
2. Nityanand Jayaraman, Corporate Accountability Desk, Chennai
3. Dharmesh, We Feel Responsible (Youth Initiative), Chennai
4. Shweta Narayan, Community Environmental Monitoring, Chennai
5. Madhumita Dutta, The Other Media, New Delhi
6. Ramesh Agrawal, Jan Chetana, Raigarh
7. Kanchi Kohli, Kalpavriksh, New Delhi
8. Neera Singh, Vasundhara, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa
9. Leo Saldanha, Environment Support Group, Bangalore
10. Achyut Das and Vidhya Das, Agragamee, Kashipur, Rayagada, Orissa
INSAF condemns the massacre of adivasis in Orissa
2nd January 2006
Please fax/email your protests to the Prime Minister of India and the Orissa Chief Minister (CM):
Shri Navin Patnaik
Chief Minister of Orissa
Office Phone 0674-2531100, 2535100, 2531500
Office Fax +91-674-2590833
The Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister of India
Room No. 152, South Block,
New Delhi - 110 001
Tel: +91 11 23012312 / 23013149 / 23019545
Fax: +91 11 23016857
Memo sent by INSAF (Indian Social Action Forum)
3rd January 2006
The Chief Executive Officer
Government of Orissa
Subject: Police Firing in Kalinganagar, Jajpur.
We the undersigned are deeply shocked at the highhanded and brutal manner in which your administration has cracked down upon the citizens killing dozen of innocent people near Duburi, Kalinganagar on January 2, 2006.
This act of your administration not only makes the mockery of the fundamental right to 'association' and 'expression' guaranteed by the constitution of India but also a serious blow to the spirit of democracy of which right to dissent is an integral part.
Ever since you have taken charge of the affairs of Orissa, the violation of people's fundamental right 'to life with dignity' appears to have become routine and the administration is shamelessly made subservient to the corporate interests. In order to realise your obsession with industrialisation of Orissa you cannot play havoc with the lives of common citizens and infringe upon constitutional and democratic boundaries.
We, vociferously condemn the heinous acts of state violence enacted by your administration in the name of 'development' against its own people and demand:
1. Unconditional public apology from the Government of Orissa
2. Immediate and exemplary action against the officials guilty for the ghastly massacre of 2nd January 2006.
3. Moratorium on land acquisition without the consent of the potentially affected communities.
Anil Chaudhary, President
Wilfred D'Costa, General Secretary
& others, including
Dr John Dayal
Member, National Integration Council
President, All India catholic Union
Secretary General, All India Christian Council
Two tribals shot in back, two in head
5th January 2006
Two of the 12 tribals killed in a clash with the police in Kalinganagar on Monday were shot in the back by the police and two others were shot in the forehead from point-blank range, an on-the-spot inquiry by this newspaper revealed. This correspondent saw the bodies, which the tribals had placed on National Highway 5A in Kalinganagar, in Orissa's Jajpur district, while blocking the highway in protest on Tuesday.
It appears the two people shot in the back had been retreating following the police lathicharge. Gobinda Laguri, a 12-year-old boy from Gobarghati village, was hit in the back, just below the left shoulder, while another bullet pierced the right side of his neck. Jinga Jarika, a 28-year-old woman form Bamiagotha village, was hit in the back just below the right shoulder.
According to Sonia Jarika, the husband of Jinga, his wife was shot dead while retreating from Champakoila, where the tribals had clashed with the police.
Two others, Diugi Tiria and Sudam Barla, were shot in the forehead from point-blank range. "I saw the policemen dragging Diugi Tiria and Suram Barla by the hair and then shooting them in their forehead," claimed one Bhagaban Tiria.
The district authorities had claimed that the police opened fire only after the angry tribals had hacked a policeman to death. However, some of the tribals said that when the police shot their friends from point-blank range, it angered the others who then retaliated by killing police havaldar G.P. Mohanty on the spot.
Former BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) Lok Sabha (Upper House) member Anadi Sahu, who is also a retired Indian Police Service officer and is part of a BJP fact-finding team, said they found many of the victims were shot while retreating after the initial police lathicharge. "We found that some bodies have bullet injuries on the backs and forehead," Mr Sahu said.
Mass funeral held; tribals vow to continue fight
5th January 2006
Upendra Panda / Kalinga Nagar (Jajpur)
Amid wailing of family members and relatives, a mass funeral of the 12 slain tribals was performed on Wednesday at Jaipal Sing Club Ground near Ambagadia. Thousands of people from the locality gathered at the funeral.The funeral was attended by the local Congress leader and former minister Sarat Kumar Rout. The convener of the Kalinga Nagar Surakhya Manch Sadasiv Deo, along with his thousands of supporters, gathered at the funeral. The bodies were kept in a row and were cremated.
The grief-stricken tribals, including women and children, chanted slogans against the Government and warned of such violence in future, in case of 'harsh industrialisation'. Political leaders continued to pour in to express their sympathy. Besides the local Congress leader Sarat Rout, State Congress party leaders Nalinikanta Mohanty, Srikanta Jena , Umesh Swain, Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra, Dhananjaya Siddhu, veteran SUCI leader and MLA Sambhu Nath Nayak joined the funeral and expressed their grief over the situation.
Congress leader Chandan Baghchi and JMM chief Sibu Soren will come here on Thursday to take stock of the situation. Among others who joined the funeral were former MLA Radha Kanta Sethi of Pattamundai and Santosh Sing Saluja. The tribals, who have declared that they would continue with the road blockade until the Government fulfils their demand, held a dharna near Madhuban Chhak.
A monument will be constructed at the funeral site in memory of the slain tribals, leaders assembled at the funeral said. However, they reiterated that the protest will continue in Kalinga Nagar and they would continue to fight till they get their rights over the land and jungles.
Govt. orders judicial probe into Kalinga Nagar firing
5th January 2006
Bhubaneswar: The Government on Tuesday ordered a judicial inquiry by a sitting judge of Odisha High Court into the Monday's violent clash between the police and tribals at Kalinga Nagar industrial Complex in Jajpur district in which 13 persons were kiled.
The judicial inquiry would be conducted under the Commission of Inquiry Act and the Odisha High Court would be approached to nominate a sitting judge to head the inquiry, an official press release issued here said.
As many as 12 tribals were killed in police firing, while one police havildar was hacked to death during a bloody clash between the police and the armed tribals at Kalinga Nagar, where Tata Steel had commenced the construction work of its proposed six million tonne capacity steel plant.
The trouble started when the armed tribals protested the construction of the boundary wall of the proposed steel plant, demanding more compensation and job to the members of the displaced family.
The order to hold judicial inquiry into the incident announced after a joint report by the Jajpur collector and the SP submitted to the Government as directed by Chief Minister (CM) Naveen Patnaik.
The Chief Minister on Tuesday paid a visit to the injured tribals and police, admitted in the SCB Medical College and Hospital at Katak. He had already announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in the clash and free medical treatment to the injured people.
Meanwhile, protest demonstrations were organised in various places of Jajpur district against Monday's police firing. At several places the demonstrators blocked the road by burning the tyres.
The agitated tribals, who had kept four bodies with them since Monday and blocked the State highways, finally handed over the bodies to the district authority for conducting the post-mortem.
IG (Inspector General, law and order) B.B. Mishra said that bodies of all the 12 tribals, killed in police firing, were handed over to their relatives for the final rites after post-mortem.
He said the road blockades by the tribals at Dubri, Tomka and Jajpur were lifted by the agitators on the request of the district administration.
In the State capital the CPI-ML (Comunist Party of India, Marxist-Leninist) and the Congressparty took out protest rallies condemning the police action on the innocent tribals and demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
The Congress activists also burnt the effigy of the Chief Minister, holding his responsible for the police firing that claimed lives of 12 tribals.
Tribal MLAs take on BJP
Statesman News Service
4th January 2005
BHUBANESWAR - The state BJP leadership faced an embarrassing situation today when its tribal MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assdembly) severely criticised the state government over the Kalinga Nagar police firing. These tribal MLAs also wanted their leaders to discuss withdrawal of support to the government with BJP central leadership.
Trouble erupted at a closed-door meeting of BJP leaders in which BJP ministers faced the wrath of tribal MLAs. Why should we remain part of the government when our people are being killed, they reportedly asked their own party members. The enraged MLAs wanted ministers Mr BB Harichandan and Mr Manmohan Samal to take up the issue with all sincerity and talk to the central leadership.
They thought it was high time to withdraw support to the government. Mr Samal, however, denied any such threat. He maintained that some of the party MLAs expressed concern and denounced the firing. Nobody said anything regarding withdrawal of support, he added.
At one point of time Mr Harichandan was irked by the adamant stand of the tribal MLAs. A remark that the ministers wanted to protect their ministerial berth irked the ministers present.
As though this was not enough, a delegation of the tribal MLAs belonging to the BJP including Mr Mohan Majhi, Mr Brundaban Majhi, Mr A Naik and others got further angry when they failed to meet chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik.
After the meeting at the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) party office, these BJP MLAs had gone to meet the state Chief Mininister (CM) but could not get to see him. Fuming at the inaccessibility of the CM, they marched out of the secretariat sending CMO in a tizzy. The CMO was reportedly desperate to assuage the feelings of the MLAs and had arranged a meeting with the CM later in the evening.
Officially, the BJP organised a press conference today to denounce the police action. It was "uncontrolled police-firing, some have been shot from behind and there was at least one case where the victim had been shot in the head from point-blank range," said former MP Mr Anadi Sahu.
Mr Sahu was questioned by reporters when he tried to blame the district administration and absolve the state government of all wrong-doings. He failed to provide any convincing answer to the volley of questions from the newsmen. Mr Sahu demanded better compensation package, proper rehabilitation and transfer of Jajpur DM and SP.
Victims' kin cry within
Statesman News Service
4th January 2006
JAJPUR - "My brother Gobinda, an 8th standard student, had gone to Dangadi market for buying a pen. He got off the bus at Nuagoan chhak along the Jajpur-Duburi road and was walking back home when the police gunned him down," says Hari Laguri, elder brother of one of the victims of the police firing at Kalinga Nagar. He was weeping beside the body of his brother that was kept along the Paradeep- Daitari Express Highway near Ambagadia where agitated tribals had staged a road blockade yesterday.
Upin Jamuda, an old man of the Chandia village, has the same tale to tell. His elder son Ati Jamuda (32) had been to the spot with fellow villagers to resist the ground leveling work of the steel company when he was hit by the bullet. Upin's younger son, a government servant, had died in a road accident two years ago. After the death of Ati, the only bread earner of the family, Upin has lost all hope and is staring at the bleak future. Upin has to take care of his bed-ridden wife and two daughters-in-laws - who lost their husbands, and four grand children. "How can I maintain the family at the age of 70," he asked.
Sania Tiria, the husband of Duigi Tiria - a middle-aged woman of Champakoila village who was also killed in the police firing - says that his three children were starving since Monday morning. Sania, a land less tribal, says that his wife was Laxmi for the family. "After my marriage to Duigi she was maintaining the family without depending on my financial support. How can I bring up my children without Duigi," he asked shedding tears recounting the memories of his wife, sitting beside her body.
People have many horrifying stories to narrate to the visiting reporters. The relatives of many in the village were either killed or injured in the police firing. While 29 tribals of eight villages are undergoing treatment at the SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack, eight persons of Gadhapur, Bamiagotha, Gobarghati, Champakoila and Chandia villages are still missing.
Nati Angarei, an eyewitness, recounted there were about 1000 people - including women and children - from eighteen villages of three grampanchyats. ''When we resisted the ground leveling work carried out by Tata Steel, the police beat up the woman with lathis and opened fire on us."
BJD team (*) avoids Kalinga Nagar
Statesman News Service
4th January 2006
JAJPUR - Kalinga Nagar continued to be tense as enraged tribals blocked several roads while their brethren conducted the mass funeral of 12 persons who were killed in the police firing on Monday.
A BJD ministerial delegation comprising finance minister Mr Prafulla Ghadei, agriculture minister Mr SN Nayak, ministers - Mr Balabhadra Majhi and Ms Pramilla Mallik, who had ventured out to get a first hand information two days after the ghastly incident confined themselves to the Kalinga Nagar police station after they were reportedly advised by the district administration not to visit the villages as the situation was tense.
Finance minister Mr Ghadei while condemning the incident said that they were on a peace mission to the villages. He criticized the Opposition for trying to politicise the issue at the cost of tribals. Mr Ghadei also floated the theory of Maoists instigating the tribals to take up arms and attack the police.
While the ruling BJD delegation was at the police station, the Opposition leaders and several others including noted tribal leader Padmashree Tulasi Munda were with the tribals and local people assuaging their feelings and consoling them. The mass funeral held at Madhuban-Gobarghati Birsa Munda ground on 4.45 pm went off
peacefully. The tribals wanted the government to dole out Rs 10 lakh as ex-gratia to the next of kin of those killed by the police.
Adivasi Mahasabha has called upon people to wear "black badges" and hoist "black flags" in front of their houses for a week in protest against Monday's Kalinga Nagar incident in which 13 persons were killed, according to PTI.
[* The BJD (Biju Janata Dal) is the coalition partner to the BJP in Orissa]
Punish the guilty, demands PUCL
Statesman News Service
4th January 2006
BHUBANESWAR - The Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), has demanded institution of criminal cases against the police and district officials responsible for the police firing at Kalinga Nagar killing at least 16 tribals on 2 January.
Condemning the firing incident, the PUCL Bhubaneswar unit president, Mr Biswapriya Kanungo, alleged that the government had mishandled the situation by deploying a huge contingent of armed police force and opening fire at innocent tribals.
"We fail to understand as to why the government did not take the local displaced people into confidence and instead resorted to deployment of a huge contingent of armed police force to ensure construction of a boundary wall of a private company leading to such a tragic incident," said Mr Kanungo.
"We are also at a loss as to why they did not postpone the work seeing the strong resistance of the affected people," observed the civil rights activist. The PUCL demanded that the terms of references of judicial probe should include the concerns and grievances of the protesting tribals. The PUCL also demanded to stall work on the TISCO project. - SNS
"Agents of industry"
Statesman News Service
4th January 2006
KEONJHAR/PARALAKHEMUNDI - The voice of protest against the Kalinga Nagar police firing killing 12 tribals had its reverberation in the tribal-populated Keonjhar and Gajapati districts [of Orissa]. Condemning the Kalinga Nagar firing incident, the Kendujhar Suraksha Parishad announced its support to the Orissa bandh (strike) call on 7 January.
The parishad leaders alleged that the Naveen Patnaik government and its officials were acting as the agents of big industrial houses and multinationals. The firing incident could have been avoided by holding dialogue with the displaced people. This government has surpassed the Britishers in repressive measures against the peaceful protestors, they remarked.
At Paralakhemundi in Gajapati district, Janapratirodh Manch, an outfit fighting for the cause of the poor and oppressed, has condemned the police firing and the killing of tribals at Kalinga Nagar.
Addressing a press meet, state president of the manch, Mr D Venkat Rao lambasted the chief minister, Mr Naveen Patnaik, for his "anti-people and undemocratic" policy. "On one hand the government is evicting the tribals living in the forest and on the other hand is displacing the tribals in the urban areas in the name of industrialisation. So where will this poor people go," he asked. A prominent BJP leader of this district and the block chairman of Rayagada, Mr Antrayami Gamanga, has also condemned the firing episode.
The district Congress committee leader, Mr Dasrathi Gamanga, Paralakhemundi MLA Mr Trinath Sahu, former Paralakhemundi Municipality chairman Mr Nursingha Patnaik, Adivasi Harijana Mahasnagha president Mr James Raika and others lambasted the BJD-BJP government for the tribal killings.
Orissa tribals vow to fight back
Sandeep Mishra / TIMES NEWS NETWORK
4th January 2006
DUBURI (JAJPUR): "Kukuda munda, ama munda samman lo (Our lives are at par with a chicken)," blurts out a tribal youth, while consoling a weeping female relative of one of the 12 persons who fell prey to police bullets at Kalinga Nagar industrial complex here on Monday.
Twenty-four hours after the dance of death shook this mineral-rich region, furious tribals blocked the national highway connecting Daitari and Paradeep and vowed to teach the administration a lesson.
"We were trying to protect our livelihood, but ended up losing our lives. There is no way we will give our land even if they eliminate all of us," said Nitima Banora of Majakhia village.
"Not even an inch," butted in Nagi, adding, "They killed my brother. What was his fault? They are not paying us proper compensation and when we protest, the police showers bullets on us.
They started it by killing our people and the villagers will fight back." A choked Nagi could not continue any longer and broke down, staring at the body of his brother lying with three others in the middle of the NH at Madhuban Chhak.
Independent Media Update
4th January 2006
The tragic events in Kalinganagar are unprecedented. Many of us were forecasting possibilities of such an event, given the rising level of resentment against indiscriminate industrialization in tribal areas of Orissa and its impact on the tribals. These updates are to inform a wider audience of the real ground situation.
This is time for all of us to express solidarity with the people who have been killed and injured and join in the fight against injustice and inhumanity. The current update includes the following:
Nachiketa, Independent Media, Orissa
PEOPLE'S VERSION OF KALINGANAGAR FIRING
by Independent Media
2nd January 2006
Based on discussions with the people of Kalinganagar and representatives of Visthapit Virodhi Janamanch, following version of events at Kalinganagar on 2 nd January, 2006 have emerged :
The District Administration has been trying to take over the land for TATA steel for the last few months after an attempt to start construction on 9 th May, 2005 was foiled by resistance by the local adivasis, who claimed that they will not vacate the land till their demands are met. From 23rd December, 2005, rumors started flying the district administration and the company may try to take over the land soon. The message was again conveyed to the administration that such a move will lead to do or die resistance.
During their annual get together at Chandiya on Jan 1st, which they have started 5 years back, the people came to know through a leak in the administration that they would initiate Boundary wall construction for the TATAs on the 2nd January, 2006 without taking the consent of the people. The tribals decided to oppose this attempt as they have opposed other attempts earlier.
On 2nd January, 2006 morning, the district administration including the Collector(DC) and the SP (Superintendt of Police) and TATA Steel (Tisco) officials reached the site with bulldozers, and started construction of the boundary wall. The team was escorted by 12 platoons of armed police armed with sophisticated weapons.
On seeing the beginning of the work, the tribal people started gathering, and a four member delegation was formed to go and talk to the district officials present at the spot. People say that the four member delegation went to meet the district administration, and many of the tribals assembled there staretdd following them at a distance. When this group of tribals reached the ditch dug to erect the boundary wall, and were about to cross it, they heard the police sound a whistle, and saw a policeman pull a rope. The people say that after this there were large explosions in the ditch and two persons fell down dead and many were injured. There had been no warning and no indications from the police before this happened.
Simultaneously tear gas, rubber bullet firing and actual firing started. Chaos ensued, with people running helter and skelter. Even the unarmed local policemen panicked at the firing and the explosions, and people say that in this panic one or two policemen fell into the boundary wall ditch and were injured by the tribals in the heat of the moment. On hearing the sound of explosions and firing, more tribals from the nearby settlements rushed to the site and started stone pelting and firing arrows inspite of the continuos firing by the police.
The firing was indiscriminate and in all directions, and continued for over an hour. Even people who were 200-300 meters away were injured. Many people who were trying to escape have bullet injuries in the back, whereas others, who stood and tried to fight back, have been injured in neck and torso in front. Jangi Jarika, a tribal woman who died was outside her house and was struck by a bullet. As per our information six people (including one policeman) died on the spot, and another seven died of the injuries.
Most shockingly, the representatives of Visthapan Virodhi Janamanch have alleged that six adivasis who were lightly injured and couldn't run away were picked up by the police, and their hands were chopped off by the police. The bodies have been received by the people and all the six bodies have their hands chopped off. Their names are Mukta Bankara (a woman), Landu Jarika, Bhagwan Sai, jinga jarika, Ramu Gagare and Arti Jamuda. As per information, Photographs have been taken and will be presented as soon as possible. We are trying to confirm the same.
The armed police were armed with sophisticated weapons and the tribals claim that people as far as 400 meters were felled by bullets. It is also claimed that at least 20 persons are still missing.
1. Why did the administration and Tata Steel decide to carry out boundary wall construction in spite of being well aware of the tremendous resentment of the local tribals, and in spite of being warned time and again that they should not try to takeover the land without meeting the demands of the tribals? And if they still went ahead, what was the purpose of having 12 platoons of armed police headed by the Collector and the SP at the site? Since when Collectors and SPs start attending boundary wall constructions? The clear inference is that this was to deliberately provoke the tribals and to use the opportunity to teach them a lesson.
2. In spite of the provocation, the tribal people sent a delegation of four persons to meet and reason out with district administration on the site. Instead of talking to them, the administration precipitated the situation through the explosions in the ditch and through firing at the tribals? This again illustrates that the massacre was pre-planned.
3. What were the explosions in the ditch for the boundary wall? Local people say that these were landmines which were apparently activated by policemen pulling on a rope? If that is true, this is an unprecedented level of barbarity where landmines have been used to kill own citizens. This must be enquired into at the highest level and the truth brought out?
4. The explosions in the ditch precipitated the situation and firing on tribals followed immediately. No warning was given to the tribals. This is unprecedented and unlawful.
5. Why has government not come out with the figures of the number of rounds fired? This is a normal practice, and we apprehend that the government is trying to hide the number of rounds fired to suppress the scale of firing.
6. Why were policemen armed with sophisticated weapons with high range including automatic weaponry deputed to the site?
7. What has led to the current situation where strong resentment and anger is present amongst the displaced tribals? Why was no ameliorative action taken to meet their just demands earlier?
9. Why was Saswat Mishra, the infamous Collector who was involved in Vednata case and who is known for his pro-industry and anti-tribal stance deputed as Collector in the extremely sensitive Jajpur district? Why was he present on the site when the firing took place?
The whole massacre seems pre-planned and organized, with certain key persons in the Government and bureaucracy collaborating with TATA Steel to crush the tribal resistance to industrialization and displacement. It seems that a clear signal was to be sent to the opponents of the forced "industrialization" through private capital that no obstacles shall be tolerated.
Resistance Continues Despite Tragedy
On the second day of the tragedy that took lives of 12 tribals and one policeman, Kalinga Nagar witnessed visits by leaders of ruling BJP, opposition parties, on going people's movements and solidarity fronts. The medical Superintendent of SCB medical college has said it in his TV interview that conditions of three tribals who have been operated upon and bullets recovered from their belly continue to be critical. The Independent Media special reporter who visited SCB Medical College Hospital this evening confirms that three of the nine people admitted in to the hospital are critical. The agitating and aggrieved tribals in Kaling Nagar have decided to continue their protest till the State government accepts their demands. Their demands include:
i. A complete halt to the eviction drive and immediate withdrawal of all projects in Kalinga Nagar
ii. A complete fullstop to the aggressive industrialization initiated in Kalinganagar
iii Dismissal of the Collector and SP from service and initiation of criminal proceedings against them for the crimes committed by them on 2 nd January causing death of 12 tribals and critically injuring several others
iii. Criminal proceedings against all officials party to the crime
iv. Rs 20,00,000 as compensation to the next kin of the dead And Rs 10,00,000 to the injured persons
The people have handed over all the dead bodies for postmortem and the mass cremation will take place on 4th January 2006 at Chandigaon. The NDTV team met the family members of one of the dead women, Jangi Jarika who has left behind a six months old baby and three more children. Jangi was not in the spot but fell victim to indiscriminate firing. It is also alleged that the second dead woman, was killed by the police by chopping off her hands.
The firing incidence has doubly strengthened the determination of the tribal to fight back and to continue their resistance. They don't trust the opposition parties because of obvious reasons. The leadership of the movement is entirely in the hands of the tribals. Those who visit there from outside are treated as solidarity groups if they agree to accept the demands of the tribals. The mainstream media, middle class and ruling elites are not able to digest this simple fact. Therefore, there is deliberate attempt to brand the tribals as Maoists both by the bureaucrats and media.
THE LAND OF JAGANNATH WHERE BLOOD RUNS CHEAP
by Bhagabat Rath
"We shall take away your livelihood, we shall destroy your communities. But be good boys. Development is a demanding deity. You have to be sacrificed for the welfare of the state. After all we are civilized people. We are asking you how you want to die. We live in a democracy. We must honor your choice. In a dictatorship, people are not so lucky. Nobody asks them sweetly about their choice, regarding the manner of death," the leader harangues.
Corporate power has triumphed again. The state has bared its poisonous iron fangs. The police have killed the real people, the salt of the earth. From Kashipore to Paradeep to Kalinganagar. It is the same blood soaked tale. Rituals follow. Regrets by top dignitaries, drum-beating by the opposition who have also merrily sold their Faustian souls. A few statements, some news in the press, a few lacs distributed as compensation; in hard-pressed circumstances, the declaration of a judicial enquiry. Calm will be restored soon. The elite will heave a sigh of relief. Orissa must develop with so much resource, why should Orissa not become another America or at least a South Korea? A few sighs and Ahas. A few voices of sympathy. Then the usual course of coarse life takes over.
The corporate dragon devours Iron, Bauxite, Manganese, Chromium and many other metals and foodstuff from which blood drips. Its ill-gotten gold oils the election machine of powerful political parties. The people of the soil must pay with their lives. Who asked them to choose lands where metals abound? They are under a curse, the curse of corporate greed gleaming doom and devastation.
The true curse of Orissa is its indifferent elite, for whom opening their mouths in the cause of justice is an odious ordeal. So Togadia can cheerfully distribute tridents in Jagannath land and young women and children are sold for a song. We mourn our lost manhood, the illusion haunted youth of India, the indifferent media and our word-wizard hawking culture.
Cry, Orissa, cry for your thirteen courageous sons of Kalingnagar, who traded their lives for the honor, life and bread of their community.
Did an entire generation follow Mohandas karamchand Gandhi the man of the millennium? The power elite laughs and points to its weeping statues, which it had nonchalantly garlanded. Did such a man once live in India? The saffron, corporate and many other brain barricaded historians will vindicate Einstein's prophecy.
(Bhagabat Prasad Rath is a Gandhian Professor who has come out openly in support of the victimized tribals of Kashipur movement against the UAIL project)
An Appeal From Academicians
We are shocked at the recent incident at Kalinga Nagar (Jajpur Road) involving the killing of many locals and the death of a policeman.
The State must take the responsibility for death on both sides; no amount of compensation, however, can ever make up for the loss of these lives. It is saddening to see that "industrialization", which is supposed to lead to the welfare of people (especially local people), is displacing them against their will. We wonder whether the government machineries, which thrive on the taxpayers' money, are actually guarding taxpayers' interest.
We do not espouse any violence by anyone. But, it is the State that must show maximum restraint. It must be sensitive to the sentiments of the local people and avoid embarking upon "reckless" industrialization.
Industrialization is a complex issue in general and for a poor State like Orissa in particular. Numerous researches have shown that large-scale industries may hurt Orissa more than they help, if at all. But, what is important is that these issues should be debated, taking the potentially affected stakeholders into the process and confidence, instead of imposing some beliefs and models as "fait accompli" on these hapless citizens.
What bothers us more is that, in the wake of globalization, almost all political parties have become enamored with myths of the so-called advantages of LPG (liberalization, privatization, and globalization). What happened at Kalinga Nagar is not reflective of only the government machinery in the State or the party in power. Unfortunately – and horrifyingly – it is the current political mindset in the whole country. Unless this mindset is reversed, what happened at Kalinga Nagar may not remain an exception, but become a commonplace occurrence.
We urge upon the State to review its aggressive policy of industrialization, which is increasingly perceived as detrimental to the interest of the local people and, in the long run, the State at large. We also urge business houses like the Tatas not to throw their Corporate Social Responsibility to the wind and refuse to be a party to reckless industrialization that culminates in the death of citizens. We also appeal to the local people and authorities to refrain from resorting to any form of violence. Peace be to all!
Prof. Banikant Mishra. Prof. Prhalad Mishra, Professor D.P.Dash, Prof. Francois George Joseph
Prof. M.N.Tripathy. Prof.P.P.Patra
(All working at Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar; their initiative has nothing to do with their institution)
A LETTER BY DUNU ROY TO THE CHIEF MINISTER ,ORISSA
Mr. Navin Pattnaik,
Dear Navin Pattnaik,
I have had occassion to write to you before on the subject of the completely misplaced rapid industrialisation of Orissa using brute force. But, fittingly enough, you have chosen to ignore my letters.
I say "fittingly" because you are not alone in this matter. The same fanatic belief in "growth" is visible in other organs of the state apparatus including the Honorable President (who poses as a scientist, although many of his pronouncements are as far from science as one can get), the Honorable Justices who preside over the Courts and the Human Rights Commissions (and have forgotten the cardinal principles of natural justice), the Honorable Prime Minister (ably assisted by his Honorable Finance Minister and Honorable Planning Commission Vice-Chairman - all of whom have at one time or the other been in the service of the World Bank), and most of what passes for political leadership in this country today.
Clearly this "leadership" can only see markets, not people. If at all it reconises human beings, it is in the shape of consumers. That is why, I suppose, the "tribal" is regarded as a non-human, almost a non-existent entity, to be brushed aside so that "development" may take place.
And what is this "development"? To take the latest case in your State, it is the establishment of a giant steel plant at Durburi, Kalinganagar. And what will this plant do? Make steel obviously. And how will this steel "develop" the nation? Well, for one thing it will go into construction of multi-storied buildings, large dams, heavy machinery, tanks and armour, steel rails, and prisons. For another, it will put a lot of money into the pockets of Tatas and their shareholders. And, of course, by exporting the finished steel there will be a lot of foregin exchange to be earned.
But how will all this 'development' benefit the villages who will be evicted to make way for the steel plant? How will it give them the money to feed their families, send their children to school, obtain better health? How may of them will convert to pulling rickshaws in your capital? How many of them will become slaves out of poverty to liquor and construction contractors and all the other evils that infest that capital? And how may of them will die - some facing the bullets that will be fired out of the rifles made of steel that your policemen will wield against them (at least 12 unfortunates at Durburi, as the new year dawned and your modern consumers danced away at Bhubaneswar), and some out of sheer hunger and dperivation? Or does this lingering death not form part of your dream of development?
Dreams have a way of becoming nightmares. Asoka learnt that the hard way many centuries ago on the same battlefields of Kalinga. But will you?
First there was Kashipur, then Lanjigarh, now Kalinganagar. How many deaths will it take to be known that too many people have died. That song was part of the struggle that unseated the mightiest empire the world has known to date. Do you think that you (and those others who worked for Washington) are mightier than that empire and the man who presided over it?
And you might remember in passing that the Vietnamese who sent the Americans home were little puny people, without tanks and artillery, without rockets and IT, but with a spirit so fragile that they had nothing to lose but their chains.
History was never your strong subject. I dont think Bush paid much attention to it either. But history will come calling at your door sooner than you think...
Once again, in caution,
[Dunu Roy heads the Hazard Centre in Delhi and for three decades has worked on rural development in India]
Visit Report by Vidhya Das
(This mail by Vidya Das, based on her visit to Kalinganagar, was first circulated on the Forestrights listserve)
She is my sister, and these are my nieces, he says, as we stand by the dead of the Kalinganagar massacare. The trauma is still etched on his face. My companion takes out her camera and clicks several shots. The people standing by helpfully draw back the cloth from the faces of the dead. The first woman looks like she is sleeping, not, so the second woman. The bullet has shattered her nose and upper jaw. The cloth on her face is stained black. How long did she struggle for their life, I wonder. The other two dead are men. "We do not know how many bodies the police dragged into their jeep, and disposed off on the way they say, but, we know for sure 13 people are dead." Reports from the medical hospital, we visited indicate that two more people have died, one person on the way, and another person in the hospital.
We are on the road taking us into Kalinganagar industrial area, the people have barricaded the road, and let us pass on to this spot, only after verifying our bonafides. We cannot talk to the people manning the barricades. 'only the committee can speak to you, they tell us pointing further down the road. Can we go there we ask. Yes, since you are press it is alright they say. Ravi who is with us is an activist, and has been to the area several times, people recognise him, and so, our identity is not questioned, though we do not carry press cards. Several vehicles of various opposition parties pass us by as we go on. On the way, we pass several young men carrying sticks.
Tell Naveen Patnaik, if he kills the police who shot our people we will give him one lakh they shout, as we pass by. We eventually come on a large gathering of people. A lot of speech making is going on. Further on, on four beds, the dead have been layed out. How were the women killed I ask; they opened fire suddenly, and shot into the crowd they say, these women were in front. It does seem as if people had not really begun to organise into a march or rally. Hearing reports of work starting, they had begun to gather at the spot, with an intention of stopping the dozers.'
There must have been six or seven hundred police men, we were only about 200 they say. Indeed, this is a fair approximation. Fourteen platoons, according to the police themselves, 27 according to the local reports, had been brought into the construction area on the morning of January second. They had been stationed in the nearby police headquarters in Duburi for about a week. They surrounded the worksite. The firing appears to have been quite indiscriminate. People have been shot on the abdomen, on the face. Even little children have bullet wounds they tell us.
It is difficult to get a coherent story, the trauma is still too fresh in people's minds. But, the purpose and intent is clear, we shall not leave till the Tata Company withdraws and the Government lets us live in peace in our villages they say. People in other villages, 600 families, have been driven out of their land we are told. They eke their living from stone crushing. Stone crusher units are every where. The hills have been carved up for quarrying. these are being taken for the construction work. Leaves of the few trees left standing on the road side have turned grey.
The Visthapan Virodhi Manch is well organised. There is a group at the first barricade. They check ones bonafides, and then let them pass. We shall not let anybody from the Government come here they tell us. Further on, women and men listen to the speech making. Lunch is being cooked a half kilometre down the road, in a hut, with the help of Manch funds, and food is brought to the spot by volunteers. Young women and men move up and down with lathis, there is tension in the air, but, there is no sense of confusion and chaos. Volunteers have also accompanied the injured in Cuttack medical hospital, and they take turns to sit by the patients. Food has also been organised here. We did not have any problem of paying for the vehicle, that is being looked into by the Manch, we are told by the relatives of the sick in Cuttack medical hospital. If there is a law and order problem, it has been created by the government the previous day.
There are many young people carrying bows and arrows. We never used them, they tell us, we carry it for self defence. However, this carrying of traditional weapons only seems to be some kind of a moral booster. All of them agree that they cannot really defend themselves with these in case of a police attack, although they explain very proudly the ballistics of this ancient missile, with feathers twisted around the rear end. The actual site of the killings is completely deserted. The police have also gone, and the people along with the dead have moved onto the road. How long will they campaign on this spot, will the government which one must remember was elected by them, ever listen to them.
In Cuttack medical collecge, all the injured police, they are from the Gurkha Battallion, and some of the more critically injured patients are in the same ward. The police are in four beds, adjacent to each other, the injured people are scattered in different places, and we have to hunt around for them. The police are subdued, quiet, the villagers, are ready to talk, but, we can make little inroad, as TV cameras capture their attention. The injuries are quiet serious, and I wonder if some of them will be able to survive. One frail young man, has an oxygen mask, and is clearly in much discomfort. Medical care has been provided, the serious patients have been attended to at the earliest possible and there is a fair amount of after-care as interns, and nurses come in and enquire after them, and slips are provided for those injured who require blood. But, ones the media and public attention dies down, one wonders will this be sustained.
As we look on, TV cameras, followed by politicians of different hues come in, bend over various injured for photographs, and video clips, and move on. The injured and their relatives are left looking quite bewildered.
Kalinganagar Complex is a massive industrial park with an area of over 12000 acres set up by IDCO in Jajpur District where industries are being allocated land. IDCOL has already acquired the land in the area through the Land acquisition act. The land acquisition by IDCO has only provisions of providing compensation for patta land and 10 decimal of land for homesteads for the landless. However, the local tribal people have been mostly cultivating non-patta land due to faulty survey and settlements and non-regularization of land. Even though they are absolutely dependent on these lands for their livelihoods, they are neither being offered compensation or land in return for the land cultivated for them. Several other industrial units have come up there, including Neelachal Ispat Nigam, MESCO, Jindal, etc.
The threat of forced displacement without any alternative livelihoods and loss of ancestral lands have led to a strong resistance- as long back as in 1996, the local people has successfully stopped the establishment of a plant by Bhushan Steel at the same site. Another major protest was held on 15th May, 2005, where the tribals foiled the proposed Bhumi Poojan of Maharastra Seamless Steel limited.
There are several issues that need to be addressed here. The entire episode is being given various colours by different interest groups. Some say the protests are because of the poor compensation package given to earlier oustees, with the present demand being for improved compensation, on the basis that IDCO would sell the land acquired from the tribals communities at something like seven times the price; other news reports point fingers at Maoists as instigating the trouble. Some people proclaim that the very fact that women were in the forefront of the rally indicates that they have been used! Needless to say the loyalists, and the opportunists will make hay when they can.
This whole affair is an effort to de-fame Naveen Patnaik, claimed one more-loyal-than-the-king 'Human Rights Activist' on Orissa TV. The Indian Express, in its 4 th Jan Editorial states: 'This tragic incident should not de-rail the process of industrialisation. Nor should the opposition ….. call the Naveen Patnaik Government Trigger happy. Rather a solution should be sought through an all-party consensus for which the Chief Minister, must take the initiative.' In the hospital people tell us, we voted BJP, but, now, since last year, we have disassociated ourselves from all political parties, and all of us together formed the Visthapan Virodhi Manch.
On the ground, there is little evidence of instigation by outside agencies, or any doubt about what the people want. Everywhere, people were very very clear, specially the women that this was a fight for their land. On the highway, it was local people who spoke to us, pointed out their leaders, and described their experiences. These leaders were from the area, lived with the people, struggled and toiled with them, some tribals, others non-tribals. The organised and orderly conditions that prevailed when we went there, the determination, grim and firm on people's faces, in people's statements, indicated that they were the people in command. This was no instigation. This was a people fighting to live.
It is inevitable, that the government would be on the defensive now. But, I would also point out that now is the time for like minded groups to come together and really really raise the issue of rights of local people: be they tribal, be they dalits, or any ethnic, caste, religious group, a community of local people have a right to decide what they want to do with their land and other natural resources. A government cannot just sell away these to industrialists without a proper process of consultation. And if the consultation results in people saying no, then the Government must honour this decision.
A consultation and consent cannot be manufactured with guns and police force;
A police force cannot be used for protecting and promoting the interests of the Private Sector;
Well, there is no point just a few people articulating this, then it becomes rhetoric. And I am glad there are so many suggestions for having an open letter on the Kalinganagar case. But, even as the Kalinganagar killings are a continuum from Kashipur in Dec. 2000, from Mandrangbaju, Gajapati, 1999, from Raighar, Nawrangpur, 2001, we also need to realise that there has to be strong move from civil society to bring such errant (and I have consciously used a mild word here) governments to book, and much much more: there has to be a counter move to ensure basic right to live and right to livelihood to the people of this country.
First, we need several people who will volunteer to come to Kalinganagar to report on the issues, not just on the killings.
Then, there has to be concerted, and sustained questioning of the rational and overdrive for industrialisation;
Legal support is required, and there is an acute need for good lawyers, who will volunteer help and sound legal advice to the people, who will also come forward to fight people's cases without monetary compensation!
Tribal blockade continues in Orissa
3rd January 2006
Hundreds of tribals Tuesday blocked roads in Orissa to protest the death of at least 12 people in a clash between police and protestors opposing construction works by a steel company.
Over 500 tribals had clashed with police Monday at Kalinga Nagar industrial complex in Jajpur district, 120 km from here, to protest the building of a boundary wall by the Tata Steel Company. Twelve tribals and a policeman died in the violence.
The anguish and fury over firing by the police that killed the protestors was evident Tuesday when tribals blocked roads at a dozen places in Jajpur district.
But police officials said they opened fire only after the tribals used bows and arrows to attack them during Monday's protest against inadequate compensation for land acquired for the steel plant.
About 100 tribals blocked the Daitari-Paradip express highway at Madhuban, about five km from the place where Monday's clash occurred.
"During the blockade, they placed corpses of four tribals on the road. They were allegedly killed in the police firing. However, after persuasion by officials, they agreed to hand over the bodies for a post mortem examination," a security official said.
Though the situation remained tense Tuesday, no untoward incidents were reported from Jaipur district. The number of policemen deployed at Kalinga Nagar and nearby places was increased to 800.
A group of leaders of the opposition Congress headed by former chief minister J.B. Patnaik, who visited the site, demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik over the incident.
The protesting tribals had Monday alleged they were not adequately compensated for their land that the company wanted to acquire for its plant.
The battle between industrialisation and the people who bear the brunt of it has been put into focus with the deaths during Monday's clashes.
The violence at Kalinga Nagar is likely to impact the state government's industrialisation drive as people intensify protests over issues of displacement and adequate compensation and try to make investors do a rethink.
In a ripple effect, this would affect not just Orissa but neighbouring states like Jharkhand, also engaged in a frenetic bid to transform itself as an industrial hub by signing a spate of memorandums of understanding.
If the Orissa government had reason to be worried so did the Jharkhand government, with protests against its industrialisation drive set to intensify.
"The Orissa incident has made us aware that we need to intensify our protest. What happened in Orissa is a lesson for us," said Ratan Tirkey, vice president of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch (JJM).
"In the past we have won battles after losing lives. We forced the government to wind up the Koel Karo hydropower project," he said, referring to the six tribals killed in police firing six years ago while protesting against the project. It was finally shelved.
Jamin Bachao Andolan convenor Deo Kumar Dhan said: "The Orissa incident has reiterated our view that governments give bullets to tribals instead of bread."
He said protests against the L.N. Mittal steel company that wants to set up a plant in East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand were gaining momentum.
The prospect of intensifying protests must spell bad news for the Jharkhand government that has signed 42 agreements in mining, steel and power.
The biggies among the steel companies include L.N Mittal, Tata Steel, Jindal Steel and Essar. To set up these industries, Jharkhand needs more than 60,000 acres of land.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda last month convened a meeting of all political parties to discuss the displacement of tribals, but none of the opposition parties attended the conclave.
Twelve Tribal Villagers Killed By Police firing
3rd January 2006
The Situation remained tense at the site of Tata’s proposed steel plant where twelve tribal persons were killed in a police firing yesterday.
Several hundred tribals, who occupied the Daitari-Paradip Express Highway with four bodies on Monday, continued the sit-in at Madhuban crossing, official sources said to UNI.
Affiliated Press report said, the protesters, some of them carrying wooden sticks, bows and arrows, placed four of the bodies on the highway and demanded that authorities punish the police officers who opened fire on demonstrators protesting plans to build a steel plant on their land.
The plant will deprive the residents of their land and the demonstrators have vowed to continue their protest until the project is canceled, said Babu Gagrai, a spokesman for the protesters. "We will not leave this place until the authorities shelve the steel project," Gagrai said.
Confirming that 13 persons including a police havildar were killed in Monday's incident, Jajpur district Collector Saswat Mishra said the four bodies, which were still with the tribals, were of Gobinda Laguri of Damiagotha village, Sudam Barla of Belahuri village, Janga Jarika of Damiagotha village and Deogi Tiria of Champakoila village. Mishra said though the administration tried to hold negotiation with the tribals, they had spurned all such offers.
The clash between villagers opposing a steel project and the police, on Monday, had also left 17 others injured. Stating that the situation continued to be tense, the district Collector said, "The administration is maintaining a close watch on the situation."
Curfew, which had been imposed in several parts of the industrial town, had been lifted on Tuesday morning, Mishra said.
The agitated tribals had also blocked the Highway at Gobarghati village while opposition Congress activists had resorted to road blockades at four places--- Jajpur road, Tomka, Sukinda and Danagadi.
In a ripple effect, this would affect not just Orissa but neighbouring states like Jharkhand, also in a frenetic bid to transform itself as an industrial hub by signing a spate of memorandums of understanding (MoUs).
Meanwhile Naveen Pattanaik government received lot of flak from opposition parties. The Opposition today condemned the police firing at Kalinga Nagar in which several tribals including a woman were killed and demanded the resignation of chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik, who holds the home portfolio.
It is a massacre of tribals by the Naveen Patnaik government, a New Year gift of the chief minister, thundered a Congress delegation led by the OPCC president, Mr Jayadev Jena which had visited the spot. The Jibika Banchao Andolan, fighting for the rights of the displaced people, has given a call for "Jajpur bandh" [strike] in protest against the "gory incident" The organisation has also demanded a judicial probe into the incident.
A fact-finding team of OPCC [Orissa Pradesh Congree Committee], led by its president Mr Jayadev Jena, arrived at the spot to find out the circumstances leading to the police firing, described the incident as horrendous. AICC [All India Congress Committee] XC secretary and former Rajya Sabha member, Mr Rama Chandra Khuntia demanded a judicial inquiry into the police firing and compensation of Rs 10lakh to the family members of each victim. Condemning the incident, Orissa Gana Parishad [OGP] president Mr Bijoy Mohapatra said it had proved the BJD-BJP state government's policy to go ahead with industrialisation at the cost of lives of poor and innocent tribals.
It has been clear that the administration was hell bent on starting industrial projects by trampling upon people, remarked Mr Mohapatra.
The OGP chief said that a delegation of Opposition parties would go to Kalinga Nagar area in order to conduct an on-the-spot investigation. CPI-M state secretary Mr Janardan Pati described the BJD-BJP government as a "killer of tribals". The government which is insensitive to the problems of displaced people is acting as an agent of big industrial houses, he alleged. The party demanded stern action against the police and district officials responsible for the police firing and adequate compensation as well as job to the family members of the victims.
CPI(ML)[Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist] state secretary Mr Gananath Patra and secretariat member Mr Sibaram alleged that the Kalinga Nagar incident was the fallout of a conspiracy by the state governme
[Compiled from news agencies’ reports (AP, UNI and The Statesman) January 03, 2006]
"It is not a firing, it is a cold-blooded massacre"
Comment from Nachiketa, Independent Media, Orissa
2nd January 2006
The people of Orissa never took seriously the words of the CM Navin Pattnaikand his cabinet colleagues when they said it in the floor of the Orissa Assembly that 'any one opposing rapid industrialization of Orissa will be dealt with, firmly'. They never took it seriously when Saswat Mishra - notorious for his pro industry and anti-tribal repressive term as Collector of Kalahandi was transferred to the proposed industrial capital of Orissa-JAJPUR in the same position in the place of Surendra Kumar –known for his softness towards dalits and Adivasis.
They never took it seriously when the station house officer of the new police station in Kalinga Nagar was transferred because he was hesitant to take firm action against the agitating tribals the way the present Officer In Charge of Tikri Police Station in Kashpur [site of the Utkal Alumininum joint venture] is doing in that place.
They also did not take it seriously when most newspapers reported today that in his visit to Lord Jaganath, CM [Orissa Chief Minister] Navin Pattnaik on the eve of the new year sought His blessings for rapid industrialization of Orissa.
It is worth watching how these non-serious people of this dying state react when the same newspapers report tomorrow the cold-blooded massacre of at least 12 trbals while Nabin Pattnaik's heavily armed police decided not to allow agitating tribals of Kalingnagar of Saswat Mishra's Jajpur district to come in the way of a proposed TISCO steel plant.
In yet another instance of repression on behalf of the Corporate Sector,at least Twelve tribals have been killed in Police firing near Duburi, Kalinganagar, Orissa, today morning.
The TV broadcasts are telling that the Bhumi Pujan [dedication ceremony] of the Boundary Wall of the proposed Tata Steel Plant was scheduled today and that the local tribals assembled and opposed the bhumi pujan.
At least twelve killings
As per the police version, there was brick batting and arrows were used, following which the police opened fire, killing twelve tribals.
One policeman is also stated to be killed. We have heard from local sources that at least 16 bodies killed in the firing are lying at Dhangadi Hospital and that more people may have died. We have received the names of the following dead persons: Sudam Barla, Govind Laguni, Janga Jarika, Landu Jarika, Ati Jamuda, Mukuta Bankira, Dedghi Taria, Bhagat Sae and Ram Gagrai.
Six more tribals have been critically injured. It is clear that today morning was one of the most brutal episodes of state and corporate sponsored killing of tribal people struggling to claim their rights on land and forests.
Kalinganagar Complex is a massive industrial park with an area of over 12,000 acres set up by IDCO [Orissa Instructure Development Corporation} in Jajpur District, where industries are being allocated land. IDCO has already acquired the land in the area through the Land acquisition act. The land acquisition by IDCO has only provisions of providing compensation for patta land and 10 decimal of land for homesteads for the landless.
However, the local tribal people have been mostly cultivating non-patta land due to faulty survey and settlements and non-regularization of land. Even though they are absolutely dependent on these lands for their livelihoods, they are neither being offered compensation or land in return for the land cultivated by them.
The tribals also allege that, even people who were eligible for receiving compensation have not received it because of faulty procedures and delays. At the same time, the tribals say that they depend on their landscape i.e. the forests, the streams and the common land: how will the government compensate for the loss of these resources?
The threat of forced displacement without any alternative livelihoods, and lthe oss of ancestral lands, have led to a strong resistance - as long ago as in 1996, the local people successfully stopped the establishment of a plant by Bhushan Steel at the same site.
Another major protest was held on 15th May, 2005, when the tribals foiled the proposed Bhumi Poojan of Maharashtra Seamless Steel limited. There is strong resentment against the proposed projects and the tribals have made it clear that they will not allow any Bhumi Puja unless all their demands are met.
Sporadic protests and agitations have been continuing in the area. This had become a major impediment to the rapid establishment of industrial projects in the Kalinganagar Complex. To handle this problem, the State Government roped in the infamous Saswat (Sterlite) Mishra as the collector (DC) of the Jajpur District.
He is the man who "facilitated" the construction of Vedanta alumina refinery, breaking all conservation and tribal protection laws. Given his record, and the desire of the State Government to put the resistance to rest once for all, perhaps today's massacre was inevitable.
Otherwise, knowing very well that the adivasis (tribal people) had taken a vow to oppose the Bhumi pujan at the cost of their lives, what prompted the State Government to deliberately and rovocatively take up bhumi pujan in presence of armed police? The government of Orissa made a deliberate choice, along with TATA Steel, to take up today's program, knowing that the adivasis are going to oppose it with all their might.
And now it is busy trying to paint the matter as an attack by adivasis on police. It is not yet clear what really happened at the site of the massacre, with police and adivasies giving totally different versions. What is clear is that al least 12 persons, men and women, are lying dead and cold after today.
Additional Comment from Independent Media (Orissa):
Today's massacre is yet another bloody link in the chain used to oppress the adivasis of Orissa since colonial rule. During the Independence movement, adivasis of Orissa paid the maximum price in blood, fighting against the British.
The Brahmin-Karan-Khadayat dominated government, bequeathed post independence, not only grabbed most of the land and forests of the tribal communities, including the communal shifting cultivation land, but also used their land and forests for setting up massive hydel and industrial projects.
Tribals displaced by projects taken up even in the 1950s and 60s haven't been rehabilitated to this date. Protests were stifled using force and the "simplicity" of tribal communities have been used to oppress them under the iron boots of police, forest guards and local non-tribal elites. Thus no less than 73% of adivasis live below poverty line, and more than half are effectively landless, even though there is plenty of land under the zemindaries of the revenue and forest department.
Liberalization opened the floodgates for extractive industrialization of the tribal areas of Orissa, rich in minerals, water and forests, by the corporates, both Indian and Multinational. Violating all laws and norms,in cooperation with a ruthless and corrupt ruling elite, these corporates have become busy in stripping the state of its wealth, and in the process destroying the land, forests, water and survival of the tribals.
So - there was Maikanch [killings in 2000 of three tribal protxstors against the Uktasl project of Alcan and Hindalco in Kashipur], Vedanta in Lanjigarh, and now the Tatas in Kalinganagar.
It is apt that TATA Steel was involved in todays massacre, for was it not that TATAs who exploited the first iron ore mines of Orissa, and whose coffers have been filled at the expense of the people of Orissa? The tragedy of the tribal people of Orissa is visible in their poverty, their helplessness before the local establishment and non-tribals, their physical and cultural displacement, and their lack of rights over their livelihood resources.
Kalinganagar is a grim forecast of the situation to come, as more and more tribals will be displaced and their life support systems destroyed by the flood of industrial and mining projects in Orissa. It is more than clear that the government is not only deriving its strength from the money power of the corporate sector,but also relying heavily on the opposition political parties since they all have been beneficiaries of the same process of rapid industrialization of the state.
The government does not bother about the consequences of police atrocities since there is noone to demand accountability. There will be demands in a routine manner- the ultimate being a demand for a Judicial inquiry, though everybody here knows about the fate of the inquiry reports.
As Despremi Jan Samukhya has demanded in its press release, there should be a complete full stop to theso-called rapid industrialization of the state. The Lok Shakti Abhijan of Orissa has also rightly called it 'a day light robbery of Orissa's natural resources for which the traditional custodians of such resources are being forced to pay a heavy price'.
8 tribals shot dead, cop hacked to death in Jajpur
2nd January 2006
Bhubaneswar: Eight tribals, including a woman, were killed in police firing while a constable was hacked to death by an angry mob during a violent clash with police at Kalinga Nagar in Jajpur district on Monday.
Jajpur SP Binayatosh Mishra said 20 persons from both sides were injured in the clash. He said trouble started when hundreds of armed tribals protested against the civil construction carried out by the Tatas for setting up of a steel plant at Kalinga Nagar in the morning.
The police initially lobbed teargas shells to disperse the violent mob but the tribals, armed with bows and arrows, attacked the police and the security guards of the Tatas.
The mob hacked to death a constable on the spot. The police then opened fire in which five people were killed.
IG (law and order) B.B. Mishra rushed to the spot along with additional force. The situation in Kalinga Nagar area was 'tense but under control,' the S P said.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik described the police-tribal clash as unfortunate and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh each to the next of kin of the nine killed.
The Chief Minister said he had sought a report on the incident from the district authority. The Revenue Divisional Commissioner and senior police officials have rushed to the spot.
Patnaik said an inquiry into the incident would be made only on receipt of the report. He said the State Government would also bear all medical expenses of those injured.
Home Secretary Santosh Kumar said armed tribals attacked the police from three sides during the construction work of the boundary wall.
He said as many as 12 platoons of police force were deployed in the area apprehending trouble during the construction work.
Odisha Gana Parishad (OGP) president Bijaya Mohapatra has condemned the police firing and held the government responsible for the incident. He alleged that the State Government forcibly wanted to start the construction work of the Tata project despite a strong resentment among the local tribals.
The OGP president said an all-opposition team would visit the spot on Tuesday to assess the situation.
OTV / Five tribals gunned down by police at Duburi
2nd January 2006
The State government's hurry for steel plants at Kalinga Nagar in Duburi has claimed six lives on Monday morning.
Sources said that five tribals and a jawan [guard] were killed in a clash between the police and tribals. The tribals in large numbers had gone to Kalinga Nagar in Jajpur district to oppose the 'bhumi puja' for the proposed Tata Steel project when the police indiscriminately opened fire on the tribals.
Hundreds of tribals armed with bows and arrows forced their way inside the proposed site of Tata Steel and tried to stop the 'bhumi puja'. When the security personnel tried to stop them, the tribals attacked them killing a jawan.
As more reinforcement was consigned to the project site, a few thousand tribals had already gathered at the place. Police tried to scare away the mob with lathicharge and blank firing, and finally opened fire killing five tribals on the spot.
A dozen policemen sustained grievous injuries in the clash. Security has been beefed up in and around Kalinanagar in Duburi. This incident has triggered widespread protests. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has convened a high-level meeting of officials to tide over the crisis. As a defensive, the State Government has ordered a high-level probe into the incident.
Ocho personas murieron hoy en el curso de un enfrentamiento entre la Policía y una multitud de personas que se manifestaban contra la construcción de una planta siderúrgica en el este de India, según un nuevo balance facilitado por las autoridades.
La Policía abrió fuego contra los manifestantes que habían comenzado a lanzar piedras y flechas contra los agentes. Como consecuencia de estos enfrentamientos murieron cinco vecinos y un policía en el acto. Posteriormente fallecieron dos de los heridos, según informó la PTI.
Los sucesos ocurrieron en Kalinganagar, a 60 kilómetros al norte de Bhubaneshwar, capital del Estado de Orissa, informó un portavoz de la Policía, Suchit Das.
Cerca de 500 miembros de una tribu local se congregaron para expresar su oposición a la decisión del Gobierno de permitir a una compañía privada la construcción de una planta siderúrgica. Los vecinos asesguran que la factoría les privará de sus tierras.
El enfrentamiento estalló cuando los manifestantes intentaron impedir que los trabajadores del grupo Tata, una de las principales constructoras de India, erigieran un muro de separación en el lugar en que estará la fábrica, informó Das a Associated Press.
El pasado mes de noviembre, los manifestantes bloquearon un intento anterior de los trabajadores de Tata. En este caso, las autoridades desplegaron cerca de 400 agentes de Policía para impedir actos similares, según Das.
Tras los disparos de la Policía, los manifestantes empezaron a replegarse. Según la Policía, los manifestantes pertenecían a la tribu Konbh, que vive sobre todo de la agricultura.