MAC: Mines and Communities

On Kalinga Nagar

Published by MAC on 2006-01-07
Source: Independent Media

On Kalinga Nagar

Update by Nachiketa, Independent Media, Orissa

7th January 2006

The situation in Kalinga Nagar continues to be tense; though groups and delegations visit the aggrieved tribals frequently everyday most of who seem to have sympathy for them because they lost a few lives in the police firing. "There are very few people and groups who seem to have sympathy for the cause for which we have been fighting ultimately resulting in the barbaric massacre of our oppressed and tortured tribals", says Raju Kulundia, a leader of the movement. Reacting to the announcement of the government that, the compensation for any loss of life to be raised to Rs 5,00,000, and to the transfer of the district collector and SP, Raju said, "the government is responding to the call for Orissa Bandh on 7 th of January given by the opposition political parties.

Our demands have been so clearly conveyed to the government and if the government has any sincerity to fulfill those demands they should talk straight. Do they think that their money will make us forget the crime they have committed? New people may join as collector and SP but what will they do unless the people who matter in Bhubaneswar don't take any decision to solve our genuine demands?

When the government decides to shift officers committing massacre from the place of the crime to defuse tension instead of punishing them, it only confirms our apprehension that government had taken a conscious decision to kill people. They have decided to suspend the doctors for chopping of the hands of the dead they say. If you are so concerned for crimes committed to the dead what are you doing to the people who have killed our brothers and sisters? As we have already said, 5 of our co-fighters were only simply injured. The police took them away and killed them out of anger. Now they are trying to shift the burden to the doctors."

Chakradhar Haibru, the president of the Visthapan Virodhi Manch also had the same reactions. The leaders are disturbed and hurt because there is made rush to the area of NGOs, political parties and civil society organizations that are trying to dilute the main demands of the Visthapan Virodhi Manch by raising irrelevant issues such as rehabilitation and resettlement. About the bandh call given by the political parties, Mr. Haibru said, "we would not watch them on the 7 th of January. We would like to see what they are doing after 7th. It is now the duty and responsibility of all groups and individuals to see to it that the sacrifices made by us (the adivasis) don't go waste. It will pain us if an impression is created that the tribals in Kalinga Nagar got killed because they demanded more compensation or better rehabilitation package. The issue is quite different from what is presented in media."

As reports reach our media office, the Bandh today is going on in the whole state of Orissa. All political parties including the congress and the left have joined the Bandh. There is an apprehension that since congress is involved in the Bandh, there could be incidences of violence in certain places. The Kalinganagar massacre has already evoked good response in Delhi. Several academics, students and activists (From Delhi University, JNU, AIIMS, Supreme Court) have come out in the streets of Delhi protesting the tragedy. They have been led separately by the CPI ( ML) New Democracy, AISA. Reports of protests are also reaching us from Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. Within Orissa, the Samajvadi Jan Parishad activists have led the demonstrations in different places in Western Orissa ( on the 6 th of January), while in South Orissa, Lok Sangram Manch is leading the protest movement in Gajapati district and Surada of Ganjam district. The CPI( ML ) Liberation which was the first group to launch a demonstration in the capital following the firing incident is also organizing Bandh in several places including Bhubanesar. The CPI and CPM groups along with OGP, Janta Dal ( S), Samajvadi party are taking active part in the Bandh on the 7th of January. The CPI ( ML) is also organized a protest programme in Puri on the 6th of January. The Lok Sangram Manch has given a call to Band South Orissa on the 11 th of January. They were the first organization to give a call for a similar bandh following the killing of three tribals in Maikanch on 16th December 2000 in similar situations by the Navin Pattnaik government.

In separate interviews to Independent Media, eminent activist Prafulla Samantara and communist leader Radhakant Sethi ( Ex-MLA) have accused a section of NGOs in Orissa who look prominent for a number of reasons that, " they have been trying to take undue advantage of their proximity with BJD leaders and are offering themselves to work as brokers for the government to dilute the movement in an area alien to them". They were citing the TV interview of a prominent NGO leader of the state "who hardly knows the people and their issues but has claims of solutions to the Kalinganagar problem". They have appealed to every one who is trying 'to act smart and sees a prospect of funding and state patronization in the KalingaNagar tragedy".

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