Memorandum Submitted At The Orissa Nivas Protest DemonstrationPublished by MAC on 2006-01-15
Memorandum Submitted at the Orissa Nivas Protest Demonstration
Held On 6th Febuary 2006 in New Delhi
Government of Orissa
Through the Resident Commissioner
Orissa Bhavan, New Delhi
Re: Police Firing on Protestors in Kalinga Nagar, Jajpur District,
We are a collective comprising student groups, trade unions, democratic rights organizations, women's groups, cultural groups, and concerned individuals based in Delhi.
We are deeply shocked by the brutal firing on protestors in Kalinga Nagar, Jajpur district on 2 January 2006, in which, so far, 12 people have been killed, and many others seriously injured. In a horrific aftermath, the hands of five victims were chopped off, a practice that defies comprehension and that has no place in a country that claims to be a modern democracy.
This firing happened in the presence of senior district officials, including the Collector and the Superintendent of Police, Jajpur district. The transfer of Collector and SP merely minimizes the enormity of the crime. Being directly responsible for the brutality and loss of life, they need to be dismissed and face criminal prosecution.
It appears that, on the morning of 2 January 2006, Tata Steel attempted some construction work under the protection of several platoons of heavily armed police personnel. Even as a four-member delegation from the local tribals who had assembled at the spot went to meet these district officials, the police launched an unprovoked attack on the gathering. Tear gas was followed by an indiscriminate firing, which continued for several minutes. Those trying to flee were shot in the back. Others have been shot in the face and on the chest.
For many months, local tribals and other villagers have engaged in a bitter struggle to avoid displacement by the steel project of Tata Industries, a company with a long history of displacing people and exploiting their natural resources. An earlier attempt to start construction in Kalinga Nagar was prevented by local people in May last year.
This refusal to engage with the people's delegation on 2 January and firing on protestors instead is symptomatic of the refusal of the Orissa government to engage in dialogue with those who have been opposing industrial projects being thrust upon them. Instead the Orissa government is increasingly adamant in using police, Special Forces and the might of the state to push projects through against the stated wishes of the people, a practice that has grave consequences.
In December 2000, three protestors were killed in unwarranted police firing in Maikanch village, Rayagada district. For the last couple of years, the Orissa government has been hell-bent on pushing through numerous projects - be it UAIL, Hindalco, Vedanta Alumina, Posco, or the Tatas in Kalinganagar, among dozens of others.
The government has also been violating all established procedure regarding people's consent and consultation since it knows, as we all do, that most ordinary people in these areas oppose such projects. That opposition is stems from the fact that mining operations and large industrial projects displace people on a large scale, take away their lands, destroy their homes, forests, means of sustenance, and the environment.
Reliance on this development trajectory can only lead to further impoverishment, peoples opposition, and intensified state violence, for which the government is solely responsible. We unequivocally oppose this pattern of development, which makes the tribals, dalits, and agrarian poor its victims.
We demand that the Orissa government should immediately:
1. Initiate a prompt investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the killings in Kalinga Nagar;
2. Dismiss the District Collector and the SP and initiate criminal proceedings against them and all other officials responsible for the firing;
3. Identify and initiate criminal prosecution against the police personnel responsible for chopping off the hands of the victims;
4. Publish a list of the dead and injured;
5. Award Rs 20,00,000 as compensation to the next of kin of those killed in the firing, and Rs 10,00,000 to those injured;
6. Cease evictions and withdraw all projects in Kalinga Nagar;
7. Put an immediate end to the indiscriminate mining and plunder of people's resources; cancel land leases for all mining in Orissa.
Signed by: Ranjana Padhi, Harish Dhawan, Radhika Menon, Joseph Marionos Kujur, Nagraj Adve, D Manjit and many others.
CAMPAIGN AGAINST POLICE KILLINGS IN ORISSA
ORISSA GOLIKAAND VIRODHI ABHIYAAN (Contact Numbers: 98683-40048,
ORGANIZATIONS PRESENT INCLUDED:
Delhi Oriya Students Federation
Delhi Shramik Sangathan
Democratic Students' Union
Forum for Democratic Initiative
Indian Social Institute
JNU Students' Union
Kashipur Solidarity Group
Krantikari Yuva Sangathan
Lok Sangharsha Morcha
Manipur Students' Association
National Alliance of People's Movements
People's Democratic Front of India
Samajwadi Jan Parishad
Stree Adhikar Sangathan