Leadership dissuades people from confronting Police on 7th Dec. to avoid bloodshed. Police terror coPublished by MAC on 2004-12-15
Kashipur Update 08/12/2004
Latest reports coming from inside Kashipur inform us that over 2000 people had gathered in Kucheipadar (the focus point of the movement) on 7th Dec. This was inspite of the fact that platoons of armed police have been circulating to all movement villages, threatening the villagers not to go to Kucheipadar or D. Karal on 7th Dec. and promising another Maikanch in case people gathered. The police has also been monitoring all the paths to Kucheipadar and D. Karal as well as checking all vehicles going on the road for people going to Kucheipadar. The leadership, fearing massive bloodshed in case of confrontation, decided not to go ahead with the program to protest the construction going on in D. Karal.
Meanwhile, the intimidation and arrests by the police continues. The police are specifically targeting people from Kucheipadar, as it has been the nerve-center of the Kashipur movement. The administration has refrained from sending people directly to Kucheipadar, most probably in view of the civil society pressure generated on it through appeals to the Chief Minister and Governor, Orissa. However, it has been arresting anyone who belongs to Kucheipadar from public places. For example, on 5th Dec., three platoons of police raided the Haat at Dongasil to arrest people who has come there from Kucheipadar for their marketing. In the ensuing panic in the Hat, one Ajit Majhi, 11 years, son of Late Rama Majhi, Kucheipadar, has gone missing and has not been found till now. When contacted, the Tikiri police station people have said that they have arrested some people but were not willing to identify them or tell if Ajit was amongst them. Ajit's parents are still waiting for him.
Another boy from Kucheipadar, Jaganath Sahu, 14, had gone to Tikiri to get his photograph taken for his 10th Class Board examination forms. It is reported that he was dragged from the Studio and arrested and sent to jail by the police. The police claims that they have released him but he is not yet reached his home. The police is also checking all vehicles passing on the road for people going to Kucheipadar. Some Sarvodayis who were going to Kucheipadar to show their solidarity report that their bus was stopped at Tikiri and boarded by police searching for people going to Kucheipadar.
The Kashipur movement is going ahead with 16th December, 2004, as Martyr's day, and a massive rally is planned for that date. Three innocent tribals were killed on that date by police firing at Maikanch and people from the Kashipur valley as well as solidarity groups from across the State are expected to come for this rally.
There is still no coverage of the Kashipur situation in mainstream media. The parallels with how American media treats going ons in Fallujeh and other cities of Iraq are unmistakable. It illustrates the partisan and biased nature of Indian corporate owned media which refuses to carry news affecting the interests of Corporate sector.
The story does not end here. Reports reaching Independent media tell us that three raids have been conducted by the police in Bolangir, Sambalpur and Bargarh (these three places are more than 300 km. from Kashipur) under the direct supervision of their respective district police heads to arrest three activists working with the people in Kashipur ( Rabi Pradhan, Saroj Mohanty and Debaranjan). In Bargarh, Samata Bhawan , the office of Samajbadi Jan Parishad (associated with one of the greatest Indian Socialist leaders, Shri Kishen Pattanaik, who died recently) was also not spared by the police. Sources inform us that these three activists along with Bhagaban Majhi will be booked under National Security Act (NSA). Already Non-Bailable arrest warrants have been issued in the name of Sri Prafulla Samantara, Sri Achyut Das, Sri Rabi Pradhan and 28 others. The present strategy seems to be to isolate the main centre of the movement, physically and morally, and then repress the leaders and divide the movement internally, say reporters and intellectuals who visited Kashipur on the 7th December. According to them, the police will verify the identity of each individual entering into Kashipur for the forthcoming martyr's day programme on the 16th Dec., 2004. All outsiders who come to Kashipur to show solidarity with the trinal people will be dealt with a firm hand, Kashipur police has informed the people on spot.
No MLA has raised the issue of Kashipur so far in the floor of the house, though the Orissa Legislative Assembly is in session. Last four days have been wasted by the MLAs because of a drama jointly enacted by ruling parties with the active support of the main opposition Congress party over the Tangarapada mines and Vedanta aluminium, wherein CM, Orissa, is being asked to resign. The fact that the no one in Opposition Congress is raising the current situation in Kashipur brings out the true nature of the political elite in the State and their willingness to collaborate with the international mining mafia at the cost of the tribal people and the poor of Orissa.
It is reported that platoons of CRPF, IRB (created to deal with Naxalite issue) and Orissa State Armed Police have been heavily deployed in Kashipur. These forces have all been redeployed from the so-called naxalite affected areas in South Orissa to Kashipur. They raiding villages in the night to terrorise people. For instance on 6th Dec. night, almost 100 armed police raided the village of Baghrijhola and chased the menfolk who went and hid in the nearby dongar (hill). This unleashing of the might of the State including Security forces raised to deal witt armed insurgency against tribals who are opposing a private sector mining project is a clear indication of how far things have gone in Orissa. One of the persons who has visited Kashipur commented "the Administration and the police seem to be acting like "company ra bhadha tiya goonda" (hired goons of the company) in their dealing with the tribals of Kashipur.