MAC: Mines and Communities

Kashipur Update 16/12/2004

Published by MAC on 2004-11-29

Kashipur Update 16/12/2004

Over 7000 people congregate to remember the Martyrs on the Martyr's day (16/12/2004) at Baghrijhola, Kashipur, despite intimidation and coercion by armed police and company goons

All left and Progressive parties Delegation including MLAs prevented by Company Goons and Police to reach and address Martyr's Days function at Baghrijhola, Kashipr

Dr. Jean Martinez-Alier and team from London (led by Ms. Noam and four others) harassed and stopped from participating in the Martyr's day rally in Baghrijhola, Kashipur

Dharana in front of the Orissa Legislative Assembly, Bhubaneswar in solidarity with Kashipur

Professor Bhagabat Prasad Rath, noted Gandhian, threatened by the police for sheltering Dr. Martinez-Alier

I. Over seven thousand people gathered at Baghrijhola on Martyr's day to remember Abhilash, Damodar and Raghunath who were shot dead by the police in Maikanch on the same date four years back and resolved to "drive Utkal Alumina out of Kashipur, no matter what the price they may have to pay". People from all over Kashipur valley came even though police had established checkpoints in all the villages and were intimidating people not to go for the meeting. We have only received this much information through telephone and are waiting for further information. It is not possible to get fax from Kashipur area as all the telephone/fax kiosks are under police surveillance.

II. As reported earlier, the all left and progressive party delegation was attacked by the goons led by Girish Patro of Kashipur (a paid worker of UAIL for the last three years), Damburu Naik (local goon and contractor working with UAIL) and Zilla Parishad member of BJD Binod Naik (he has been indicted by the JusticeP K Mishra Commission for filing the false FIR on 15/12/2000, on basis of which the police reportedly went to Maikanch village on 16/12/2000 and resorted to firing). The Police led by the SP Sanjay Kumar encouraged the goons and stood by as the delegation's vehicles were stoned and damaged. All this happened right in front of the police station. Then the delegation was detained inside the police station, while the company goons were standing outside and shouting slogans against the delegation. Finally the delegation was forced by the police to return to Rayagada. (the fax message detailing the delegation's experience is given as annexure)

III. Reporters who had gone to cover the Martyr's day program were also attacked in Tikiri by the same goons in the presence of police. The police than guided the goons to pick up reporters perceived as being pro-people and manhandle them. Those roughed up included Sudarshan Padhi of Prajatantra, Smruti Ranjan of Matrubhumi, Sarat Mangaraj of Dharitri and Arjun Nayak of Pratidin. The camera of Sudarshan Padhi was also snatched away and they were all sent by the police to Rayagada. Then the police allowed what they called "pro- Company reporters" to proceed to cover the Bagrijhola Martyr's day program. These reporters included Mr. Amulya Sahoo of ETV, Mr. Ranjan Rath associated with NDTV, Mr. Rakesh Padhi of Samaj, Mr. Subrat Choudhary of Sambad.

IV. Dr. Jean Martinez-Alier and a solidarity team form London was also stopped at Tikiri and their vehicle was also stoned. They were also manhandled by the company goons in full view of the police and their passports were snatched away by the goons under instructions by Police. The entire delegation under the leadership of Narayan Reddy, MLA, refused to leave the place without the passport being returned to the foreigners. Interestingly, the police then returned the passports, clearly showing the nexus between the police and the goons. Independent Media talked to Dr. Martinez-Alier over phone who was shocked at the way police and Company has behaved. He said that he had gone to express his solidarity with the Kashipur movement on behalf of Alcan't and he never expected that he will receive such a treatment by the police.

V. Professor Bhagabat Prasad Rath, noted Gandhian and the main contact person for the Kashipur Solidarity in Rayagada, was threatened by the OIC of Rayagada Police station that he will be arrested since he has given shelter to foreigners (apparently to Professor Martinez-Alier). He shared this with Independent Media. It may be recalled the Professor Rath, an venerable old scholar of 75 years, was planning to go on indefinite hungerstrike in protest against the police atrocities on Kashipur tribals and was persuaded to withdraw with difficulty by the leaders of all left and progressive parties.

VI. A Dharana by left and Progressive parties and organizations was organized in front of the Orissa Legislative Assembly. Dharana was addressed by the State leaders of CPI, CPI-M, SUCI, CPI-ML, CPI-ML (Red Flag), CPI-ML (New democracy). CPI-ML (Liberation), Samajwadi Jana Parishad, Loka Shakti Abhijan, Loka Pakhya and Utkal Sarvodaya Mandal. The State President of Samajwadi party also attended the Dharana along with his collegeaues. The sitting MLA of CPM, Shri Laxman Munda also addressed the Dharana and declared upon hearing the news of detention of the delegation at Tikiri police Station that a statewide campaign will be carried out to expose the brutality of the State and the administration in Kashipur.

VII. List of participants in the all party delegation to Kashipur:

. Narayan Reddy, MLA, CPI
. Shambhunath Nayak, MLA, SUCI
. Gananath Patra, CPI(ML) State Secretary
. Shivram, CPI-ML (Red Flag) State Secretary
. Abhiram Behera, CPI-M, State Committee member
. Bijay Mohanty, State Committee member, CPI
. Budha Gomango, President, Loka Sangram Manch and State leadder of
CPI-ML (New Democracy)
. Tirupati Gomango, CPI-ML(Liberation), State Committee Membeer
. Jyoti Ranjan Mahapatra, President,AISF
. Gangadhar Mishra, Sarvodaya
. Prashant Paikrai, AIYF
. Rajendra Sarangi, Convenor, Loka Pakhya
And fifteen collegeaues

Our Comments: The events in Kashipur illustrate the hollowness of Indian democracy and its domination by the corporate classes. It also shows how easily the political class and the bureaucracy can turn upon the very people they are mandated constitutionally to protect and nurture. Orissa lies at the intersection of corporate globalization and the struggle for self-determination as no other State in India, and Kashipur is in the eye of this hurricane. The people of Kashipur are the vanguard of the struggle against the mercenary corporates and global capital to save their livelihoods and environment. They deserve our support.

The present developments in the State indicate that the Kashipur movement may have finally provided the crucible for a coming together of left and progressive forces in the State to oppose the forced industrialization and loot of the natural resources of the State by international capital and a comprador ruling class.

Independent Media

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