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Shutdown In Orissa, Jharkhand And Chhattisgarh Over Tribal Killings

Published by MAC on 2006-01-07
Source: WebIndia ()

Shutdown in Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh over tribal killings

WebIndia, Bhubaneswar

7th January 2006

The states of Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are observing a day long shutdown today to protest the January 2 killing of 12 tribals at Kalingnagar by police.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) president Shibu Soren on a visit to Kalingnagar to express solidarity with the victims on Friday said the dawn to dusk shutdown in the three tribal dominated states would be supported by all opposition parties.

Protestors came out on the streets in Bhubaneswar on Saturday morning blocking roads and burning automobile tyres at CRP Square, Station Square and at other places in the city.

Traffic remained thin on the streets and most shops and business establishments remaining closed. Political activists were found squatting at some crossings. However, the Rourkela steel plant was reported to be functioning normally.

The ruling BJD-BJP combine had gone totally defensive by ordering the closure of educational institutions in view of Orissa shutdown today and had directed the administration and police to remain unprovoked during the shutdown.

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has appealed to the people, especially youths, to maintain peace and calm during the shutdown. "No one should take advantage of the tragic incident, politically or otherwise," Patnaik said in his public appeal.

The Orissa police and administration are on high alert for the state-wide shutdown called by seven opposition parties. Two companies of Rapid Action Force have been requisitioned from the Centre. The state has also deployed its entire police and paramilitary forces to maintain law and order.

Barricades have been erected around the state assembly and secretariat complexes here while employees had been directed to come to office ahead of the scheduled time.

All schools and colleges in the state will remain closed and road and rail transport is likely to be affected.

The protest call was given by the Kalinga Nagar Surakhya Samiti, which had been supported by seven Opposition parties including the Congress and the Left.

The Opposition had given a call to paralyse the State to protest the firing and demand the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Besides the Congress, the parties supporting the stir are CPI, CPI (M), OGP, JMM, Janata Dal (S) and Samajwadi Party.

There was hectic activity in the State Secretariat on Friday as the Government increased the ex-gratia to be paid to the next of kin of the victims of Monday's police firing from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.

Chief Minister Patnaik also directed that a person from each affected family be provided a job in the government or in a public sector undertaking and the injured persons should get an ex-gratia of Rs 50,000.

Orissa Government transferred the Jaipur District Collector Saswat Mishra and Superintendent of Police (SP) Binoytosh Mishra, who came under fire following the incident with the opposition parties as well as ruling BJP demanding their removal from the district.

Saswat Mishra is transferred as Joint Secretary in the Agriculture department. His place of Jaipur District Collector would be taken over by the present Jagatsinghpur Collector Arabinda Padhee. Binoytosh Mishra was shifted as SP (crime branch) and he has been replaced by Angul SP Asit Panigrahi.

A total of 13 people-a policeman and 12 civilians were killed when tribals, opposing the proposed setting up of a steel plant at Kalinganagar industrial hub, had clashed with the police.

The BJP, BJD's alliance partner in the state, has openly condemned the police firing in Kalinga Nagar and is not likely to resist the bandh call.

The Navin Patnaik Government in Orissa, smarting under the recent killing of the tribals in police firing, faced trouble after its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, said on Friday that it could walk out of the coalition over the incident.

BJP leaders met the State unit head and urged him to walk out of the alliance.

The Biju Janata Dal has drawn flak from all quarters including its ally after the police firing killing 12 tribesmen at Kalinga Nagar in Jaipur district.

Taking strong exception to the incident, Juel Oram, president of the State unit of the BJP, said that the party would consult national president Rajnath Singh before taking any step.

Patnaik, had however, said he was yet to receive any communication from the BJP.

Orissa's 147-member assembly has 32 legislators from the BJP and 64 from the BJD.

Capitalising on the public ire against the recent Kalinga Nagar tribal killing, the Opposition Congress launched a tirade against the Naveen Patnaik government at a rally attended by the AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh and the AICC secretary Chandan Bagchi organised in the city on Friday.

Addressing the "Jana Samparka rally" here, Singh dubbed the BJD-BJP government as "anti-poor and pro-rich". He also criticised the state government for its failure to implement the pro-poor policies of the UPA-led Central government in the state.

Later, talking to reporters the AICC leader also alleged that the state was being ruled by an ex-bureaucrat at whose behest the Kalinga Nagar police firing took place. Stating that his Party would always support the tribal cause, Singh said that the UPA was thinking of bringing out a policy and law regarding the tribal land settlement, rehabilitation and resettlement in the country.

The two-member All India Congress Committee (AICC) team, comprising Chandan Bagchi, its secretary and Chhattisgarh's Leader of Opposition Mahendra Karma, on Thursday said Congress has given a call for bandh in all the three states to take up the issue in a massive way.

Bagchi said the team would meet the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi in a day or two and submit a report.

Saying that the Naveen Patnaik-Government crossed the 'limits of barbarism' and the incident was a reflection of 'fascism,' both the leaders said the UPA is going to take up the issue seriously. Stating that Naveen should have tendered resignation after such an incident, both the AICC leaders said, the administration had many options, which it did not exercise.

The AICC members trained the gun at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) saying it was equally responsible for the killings of the 12 tribals.

Bagchi said, BJP was hand-in-glove in the barbaric incident and is adopting double standards by expressing its concern.

Meanwhile, BJD general secretary and panchayati raj minister Dr Rout has appealed to the Opposition parties to cooperate with the government in restoring peace in the disturbed areas, and in the judicial inquiry into the incident.

Meanwhile, Lok Sangram Manch the organisation espousing the cause of tribals has called for a bandh in southern Orissa on January 11 to protest against the killing of 12 persons in the police firing at Kalinga Nagar.

The state went on a boil after the police shot and killed 12 tribals after they were attacked with arrows and stones, killing a constable. The incident occurred after about 1,000 tribals, some armed with bow and arrows, opposed a move by authorities to acquire land for the setting up of a steel plant in Jaipur district.

About 25 people, including four policemen, were also wounded in the clash. The police had been assigned to protect local officials who were demarcating the land for the proposed steel plant.Police said authorities had offered compensation to the tribes living on the land but they had rejected it.

Police said the land in Jajpur had been acquired by the government and was to be given to India's largest private steel producer, Tata Steel Ltd.

Foreign and Indian private steel companies are setting up huge steel mills in the mineral-rich states of Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, but villagers in these areas complain they are not adequately compensated for their land. (ANI)

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