"Shocking revelations" and an "horrific breakdown of governance" in OrissaPublished by MAC on 2004-11-29
"Shocking revelations" and an "horrific breakdown of governance" in Orissa
A former Speaker of the Indian parliament has challenged the government to stop Vedanta's headlong moves towards bauxite mining in Orissa. And a noted Indian commentator delivers a swingeing Open Letter to Orissa's Chief Minister condemning his policies.
Letter by Shri Rabi Ray, Fmr. Speaker, Lok Sabha to Minister, MOEF, GOI
29th November 2004
Dear Shri Raja Jee,
You would recall my telephonic talk with you on the 24th of this month regarding the recent most gross irregularities that have come to the fore with regard to the Buxite mining of Miyamgiri and Karlapat Hills of Kalahandi district of Orissa. All leading newspapers in Orissa have come out with shocking revelations about the shady deal that has taken place between Government of Orissa and multinational companies.
It has come to my notice that MOUs have been signed which allowed for mining of Bauxite on the two mountains in the Kalahandi district of Orissa. This is a shocking development given the environmental, cultural and anthropological importance of these two mountain ranges and I am writing this letter to you in anticipation of application for Forest and Environment clearance of these mining projects by the Government of Orissa.
As per the newspaper reports, an alumina plant with an annual capacity of 1.4 million tonnes per annum is being set up in Lanjigarh, Lanjigarh Block of Kalahandi district. The plant will require over 6 million tonnes of bauxite per year which is sought to be mined from the bauxite deposits that cap the Niyamgiri Hill and the Karlapat Hill. The total requirement of the project over its lifetime is estimated to be over 150 million tonnes of bauxite. The mining will be done through open cast system in which the whole hill top will be removed to get at the bauxite reserve. The massive alumina plant and the township will be located just below the famed Niyamgiri Hill.
Both Niyamgiri and Karlapat Hills are bio-diversity hotspots with very dense forests. Both these hills were "game sanctuaries" previously and Karlapat has already been designated as a protected area under section 18 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. I don't need to argue about the environmental importance of Karlapat, as it is self evident.
Regarding Niyamgiri Hill, in his Revised Working Plan for the Reserve Forests and Proposed Reserve Forests of Kalahandi Forest Division for the period 1997-1998 to 2006-2007, working Plan Officer Shri K. R. Singh recommended for creation of the Niyamgiri Wild Life Sanctuary (9129.19 hectares) (P.142)
"XXX composition of bio-diversity in Niyamgiri R. F. Rout Jhimri Extn. P.R.F., Jalkrida R.F., and adjoining areas also demand creation of Protected Area" (P.134)
Tigers, Panthers, Leopards, spotted Deers etc., are found as the fauna whereas the plant diversity seems to be more remarkable in the Niyamgiri Hills. Rare plants like Krushna Jubaraj (Melasma Thomsonii) have been found in this region. Recently, the Proctological Society of India found during their survey that Niyamgiri was among the four major spots of Orissa where medicinal plants were found in abundance and in rich diversity (The Samaj, 11.02.02). The Forest Survey of India report admits to dense forest contiguity from around Devagiri in Rayagada district to the Niyamgiri Forest and further into the forests of Karlapat and Thuamal Rampur in Kalahandi district. It then turns south connecting the Tikeiu-Lelligumma and Gumma forests, and then on to the Narayanpatna forests in Koraput district. (The Hindu, Aug 8, 2004)
Apart from the tremendous intrinsic conservation and bio-diversity importance of the Niyamgiri, the hill also gives rise to the headwaters of two major rivers of South Orissa, the Nagavely and the Vamsadwara. The consequences of mining for bauxite in their headwaters can well be imagined.
The Niyamgiri hills are also the home of the Dongaria Kondhs, a primitive tribal group of Orissa famed for their horticulture. A large mine in midst of their homes will surely destroy their unique culture and way of life.
It is obvious to me that both Niyamgiri and Karlapat offer us what your ministry categorizes as "incomparable value" in its Draft Environmental Policy and that to allow setting up of mining and industries in these locations are simply not permissible. Mining of bauxite from these hill tops can in no way be seen as vital national interest, as these are primarily export oriented units being set up by MNCs.
There is a strong local resentment about mining the Niyamgiri and Karlapat hills, but it has been reported to me that the district administration has threatened the local NGOs and other concerned citizens with dire results if they raise the environmental consequences of these projects in larger forum, including with the MOEF. It is also reported that a reign of terror has been established by the goons hired by the company to which the lease has been given.
It has also come to my notice that in spite of not having received Forest Clearance and Environmental Clearance, land is being acquired at the site for setting up the Alumina Plant and the township. 24 villages have received notices under the Land Acquisition Act 1894. Two tribal villages have already been bulldozed and demolished and the inhabitants have been shifted to a makeshift colony where they are living in miserable conditions.
I believe that this is in contradiction to your guidelines, where Forest Clearance is mandatory before taking up any development action.
I am told that the Collector, Kalahandi has allowed a mining company to take up development of the road from Lanjihar to Karlapat. It is not clear to me whether the State Government is competent to take up these activities without receiving forest clearance from MOEF, and in view of the moratorium by the Honorable Supreme Court on diversion of "Protected Areas and Forest Land for Non-Forestry purposes till further orders".
It is because of this reason that I am being forced to write to you on this issue. The State Government is committed to developing this project for political reasons, and will ride roughshod over legitimte opposition. This coercion, I am afraid, would extend to the Local Forest Department personnel, who will be not in a position to give you a true picture due to this pressure.
I hope that your ministry would act in an impartial manner as per the rule of the law and remove these apprehensions from the mind of the people of the state.
I must thank you that you responded positively to my telephonic call when I just made a mention of the issues I have just referred to in my letter.
I hope this letter will find you in best spirits and health.
An early reply is solicited.
Shri A. Rajah Minister for Environment and Forests, Government of India New Delhi
Open Letter to Shri Navin Patnaik, Chief Minister of Orissa
06 December 2004
Dear Shri Patnaik:
Under your jurisdiction and authority, on December 1, 2004, per the orders and in the presence of the Rayagada District Collector, the Orissa Police viciously attacked and critically injured 16 adivasis (tribals). Many, disproportionately women, were arrested. The police targeted more than 300 adivasis and dalits (erstwhile 'untouchable' castes) who were protesting the creation of a police station and barrack for armed police at Karol village, in proximity to the proposed alumina plant site of Utkal Alumina International Limited at Doraguda. The people were demanding that the state construct medical and education facilities instead. Those injured were denied hospital care and sequestered in Rayagada jail, even as some of the injured were reportedly missing. More than 1,000 armed police continue to patrol the area.
Under your jurisdiction and authority, the Government of Orissa has violated its legal and ethical responsibilities toward ensuring the rights of disenfranchised peoples, suppressing public dissent through police brutality. Why are the state police upholding the interests of corporations? Why are rights of those imprisoned by the state being violated? History tells us that when irresponsible corporate globalization and a callous and authoritarian state collaborate to undermine the interest of local communities, it exacerbates social suffering, betrays the interests of the disenfranchised, and furthers gendered violence.
Exercising citizenship to encourage responsible government action, dalit and adivasi groups in Kashipur have been protesting the establishment of the alumina plant, a venture of Utkal Alumina International Limited, which is a joint enterprise of Aditya Birla Group and ALCAN, a Canadian company. The project is expected to cost Rupees 4,500 crore. It will displace, and dispossess, 20,000 people. The aluminium plant would provide employment to about a 1,000 people for 20 years, after which bauxite resources will be exhausted.
We must recall that in December 2000, Rayagada witnessed state repression of adivasi communities as state police fired on non-violent dissent, in the process killing Abhilas Jhodia, Raghu Jhodia and Damodar Jhodia. Kashipur remains a tragic affidavit of the intersections of irresponsible globalization, state complicity in defiling human rights, and police participation in fostering social violence. Local communities and social movements have been in dissent for the last 12 years, protesting bauxite mining by a consortium of industries, who are in breach of constitutional provisions barring sale or lease of tribal lands without adivasi consent. Local communities dissent the devastation of their ecosystems, histories and futures, the destruction of forests, agricultural lands, mountains, perennial water-streams, the water retention capacity of mountains, that is integral to the right to life and livelihood of about 20,000 people from 82 villages. Neither the BJD-BJP coalition government which you oversee, nor other major political parties have acted in the interests of the disenfranchised. In the 2004 election campaign, the BJP manipulated the 'jal, jungle, zameen' (water, forest, land) platform, appropriated from land reform movements to persuade adivasis in Orissa to join them. The BJP-BJD government and allied Hindu nationalist organizations have manoeuvred dalits, adivasis, and minority religious groups to meet their own political interests, with abject disregard for the well-being and self-determination of these groups.
Under your jurisdiction and authority, in July 2003, the Orissa government permitted the unconstitutional transfer of lands in Schedule V areas for mining and industrial use. Orissa's decision contradicts the 1997 Samata versus Andhra Pradesh judgement, where the Apex Court had ruled against the government's lease of tribal forest and other lands in Scheduled Areas to non-tribals for mining and industrial operations.
Under your jurisdiction and authority, beginning 23 January 2004, four adivasi villages, Borobhota, Kinari, Kothduar, Sindhabahili, and their agricultural fields, in south east Kalahandi district, were razed by Sterlite industries, a multinational corporation building an aluminium refinery near Lanjigarh, adjacent to Kashipur. The villagers were forcibly evicted.
Under your jurisdiction and authority, corporate activity and bilateral development in Orissa remains divorced from people's meaningful participation in decision-making. The rationale, socioeconomic and ecological cost-benefit ratios, outcomes, cross-sectoral integration, distributive mechanisms and delivery systems of development processes require radical scrutiny. Development processes in Orissa that render the disempowered destitute contradict the United Nation's Declaration on the Right to Development, which recognises development as, "a comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process, which aims at .... the well-being of the entire population and of all individuals on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in development and .... fair distribution of the benefits resulting therefrom". The state often charges poor rural communities with the primary responsibility for ecological degradation, while plans for enhancing forest productivity and allaying rural poverty are premised on capital intensive strategies such as the National Forestry Action Plans prepared by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1999. The Revised Forest Strategy of the World Bank, approved in October 2002, is another glaring example of centralised policies that alienate the disenfranchised by privileging 'free' market activity and endorsing the unchecked involvement of the private sector in forest management.
Orissa's development strategy focuses on the invasive expansion of power, mining and heavy industry, contingent on the indiscriminate exploitation of forests. Maldevelopment, authorized by the Government of Orissa, has imperilled forests and public lands, jeopardised environmental health and governance, and endangered the people who depend on natural resources for subsistence and livelihood. This is of particular concern in the context of growing liberalisation and corporate globalisation prioritised by the state in trade, industry, tourism and agriculture, and the privatisation of public resources and infrastructure. There is a rise in the absolute and relative number of people below the poverty line in rural Orissa. While schemes and programmes focussed on poverty alleviation have been continued in the Ninth (1997-2002) and Tenth (2002-2007) Plans, their impact on the alleviation of rural poverty remains dubious. They are often mismanaged, ill-planned and financed, surfeit with corruption, and inattentive to the needs of the majority of cultures and communities in the state. Lack of access to common property resources, including water and forests, complimented by environmental degeneration, heighten impoverishment, and the cyclone of 1999, the droughts of 2000 and 2003, and the floods of 2001, pose a formidable challenge for environmental, political and social sustainability in the state and make suspect the government's commitment to human rights and social security.
The Orissa Government, under your jurisdiction and authority, is invested in generating an affirmative environment for brisk industrialisation, without regard for the massive social and ecological destitution that has become the tragic bi-product of modernization in India. People's Groups and Left Political Parties estimate that Orissa has received bids for investment that amount to Rupees 2,50,000 crores over the next decade. Much of this is committed to the growth of large industries such as aluminium and steel, and related infrastructure development. The estimates are that such investment will lead to employment opportunities for only 1,75,000, while there are two million unemployed and another two million underemployed. In contrast, an investment of Rupees 5000 crores in cottage, small and medium industries can generate employment for about one crore. The Government of Orissa estimates that 20 mining projects and 5 large dams will displace 250,000 people. These forms of industrialization will radically impact mineral resources, pollution and aridity of rivers and the ground water base. Such development will also decimate what holds value and is sacred to myriad communities and will accelerate cultural genocide.
I write to add to the resolute voices of dissent in solidarity with the people affected by Utkal Alumina International Limited, as social movements, activists, intellectuals, across the nation and internationally, unequivocally condemn the actions of your government. The Orissa Government must take immediate action to stop the police brutalization and mining operations, and set up an independent commission to inquire into the social and environmental damage resultant from past action. Investigation into human rights violations and plans for reparations must be central to the mandate of such a commission. The Government of Orissa must act ethically in the interests of the people of Kashipur to remedy the horrific breakdown of governance and ensure justice.
Associate Professor, Social and Cultural Anthropology Program
California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission Street, San Francisco,
[Both these letters were published last week by Independent Media (India)]
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.
Reign of terror in Kashipur - People pay the price as the CM wants to inaugurate UAIL Plant in January, 2005
Kashipur Update 03/12/2004
District Administration and police have unleashed a reign of terror in the Kashipur area. The whole proposed project area and the villages opposing the mining project have been sealed by the administration and police, with no press people and others being allowed beyond Tikiri on the road to Kucheipadar and the other proposed project affected villages. The situation seems to be very tense with armed police moving around and beating up people without much provocation. Three people namely Nabeen Naik, Lokanath Naik and Vibhu Gouda were called by the Collector to Kashipur in order to have discussions. However, on reaching Kashipur, they were arrested and sent to jail on charges of creating disturbances as far back as on 14th September, 2004.
Interestingly, it also reported that after the brutal lathi charge on Dec. 1 (where many people, including women were injured, some critically), the Collector, on reaching back to Rayagada, was seen dancing in a party. A typical case of "fiddling while Rome burns". It also shows with the contempt with which Orissa's bureaucrats hold the tribal people.
Construction work for Police Station, Armed police Barrack and a Company Camp office is continuing in D. Karal village. A Police Surveillance post is also being created at the top of the hill near Nuapada Chak to monitor the physical movement of local people. It has been reported to us that all these developments have taken place because Shri. Nabin Pattanaik, Chief Minister wants to inaugurate the UAIL project in January, 2005.
We have received this dispatch from an activistn who is near the site. He wants to remain anonymous in order to avoid harassment ( received at 08.15 PM, 3rd December):
"The police has turned very aggressive. At the slightest provocation they are beating up people. After the first dec. incident, I believe, they even chased and beat up people who were returning from their fields;
- The Collector and SP are camping here, in Kashipur. They came to Tikiri again yesterday( December 02), and camped in Kashipur IB.
- Today, they have arrested Nabeeno and another boy from Khorigaon last night. The police are all over the place, and it is anybody's guess who they will pick up next.
- The administration has issued instructions / declaration that any body coming in the way of the mining will be dealt with in no uncertain manner. The decision is that they will not fire at people, but, they can do anything else!! (How kind);
- They are also targetting Dec. 16th.
- On the people's side, there is fear, and anger. The things might heat up after 7th Dec. as people plan to take action against the lathicharge on that day
- The administration are planning to book people beginning with Bhagwan Majhi under NSA (Does that act still exist? in any form, what have they done to POTA);
- The injured apart from the ones arrested have been taken to the Dongasil Health Centre according to reports. There are broken bones, etc.
- The work of the police outpost construction is going ahead with the connivance of D.Karala- the only village where some people support the project. It is a Rs.7 lakhs construction project, so not something very big.
The 7th Dec demonstration /rally is a crucial event people are planning, as it is going to teach them whether they have the strength to withstand this kind of an onslaught. There is intention of having a jail Bharo in solidarity with the people who are already there. They need to plan all this very carefully, and think what are the possible fallouts /aftermath, and how they will take it forward from there. There is likely to be violence as people are bent on breaking the police outpost construction. Which is why they have planned it for the 7th, and not immediately, as there is little construction on the ground as yet!!
From the support side, there has to be a good press & media coverage, which is my intention of writing to you. This has to be covered on camera, and by newspapers, local/ national etc. The state is not going to stop unless it is completely discomfited. On the other hand, people are risking much. The leaders and people will be getting arrested / courting arrest in large numbers. This is more than just the Dec.16th show. It is quite a do or die situation for the people, and there has to be substantial support from outside. Please do your bit"
The situation seems to be getting out of hand with the administration bent on breaking the anti-mining movement by any means possible. It seems the Government has forgotten the valiant history of the tribals of Koraput who had fought the British with Laxman Nayak and were least cowed by the killing of the three tribals in Maikanch firing. Sooner or later the matter will come to a head and the blame will be laid on the doors of Shri Nabin Pattanaik and the District Collector for deliberately provoking the tribal people for the benefit of a private company.
It seems that a confrontation is inevitable on December 7th. The people are angry and will not back down in front of state terror. They see the Project as a basic infringement of their fundamental rights and dignity as human beings and are willing to die to oppose the same. The administration must desist from this game of "chicken", for it is going to end in bloodshed of innocent people.
It seems so ironical that a CM who swears by his "tribal friendly" identity has turned so "corporate friendly" at the cost of the tribal people. He should do well to remember that we still live in democracy, however flawed it may be, as one of his co-student from his illustrious school reminds him.
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.
Fax Message received from Rayagada from the All left and Progressive party delegation
Leaders Prevented by Company Goons and Police at Tikiri from Addressing Martyr's Day Function at Kucheipadar on December 16, 2004
1. The leaders of the left and progressive political forces led by Shri Narayan reddy, MLA & Shri Shambhunath Nayak, MLA faced a lot of harassment right from their journey from Bhubaneswar to Rayagada.
2. In the morning of the 16/12 when the team left from Rayagada for Kucheipadar, the police tried to discourage the team and said that anyway they wouldn't be allowed and the team should not waste petrol.
3. At Rupkona, the IIC, Rayagada, Kishore Kumar Langayat tried to first stop the team asking for the papers of the vehicles (for checking by RTO) and wanted the MLAs to discuss with the Superintendent of Police over phone from Kumbhikota. About 100 policemen delayed our journey for about one hour. When the team didn't listen to the police and proceeded the police was seen to be saying why foreign delegates have come unnecessarily. A foreign team led by Jean Martinez was following behind us to join the Martyr's Day for expressing solidarity.
4. At Tikiri, after crossing the Bazaar, at the gate of the police station suddenly a crown of about 100 pelted stones and tried to block the way and the police was actively helping these goons (hired by the Company). When the Police didn't allow us to proceed further and after we objected, the police took all the vehicles and the 4th vehicle carrying the foreigners inside the police station and detained us for over 4 hours and ultimately did not allow us to proceed to the meeting.
5. During our entire period of detention inside the police station we staged a Dharna to protest against the Police and Company Goonda raj and addressed the press.
6. Outside, the Company hired goons kept on shouting slogans "Narayan Reddy Murdabad, Narayan Reddy down-down, Arrest Narayan Reddy, Narayan reddy go back, we demand UAIL company" and the police was seen to be joking and working with these goons. The police also tried to bring the so called people protesting our visit and tried to have confrontation with the team
7. Although the Slogan shouting went on for four hours, hardly hundred people gathered. There was absolutely no support in the town and these people were seen to be taking orders from Police and behaving accordingly. They snatched away our files and camera, physically abused us outside the thana, took away the loaded reels of the cameramen accompanying us, took away the passport of the foreigners, tried to harass them and broke the windowpanes of the cars of the liberation team which arrived a little late. The police remained as mere spectators.
8. We learned from various people that the Martyr's day function was well attended by over 7000 people with traditional arms.
9. The police was asked us not to go to the meeting and not to send the MLAs. We insisted that the whole team should be allowed or else we will return back. Accordingly after 4 hours of detention the police escorted us upto Rayagada and we reached Rayagada at 4 PM.
10. The entire team condemns this act of the police, administration and Company and has expressed its strongest condemnation for this anti-democratic role of the State. This is nothing but industrialization at gun point.
11. We met several press reporters who met the same fate as us.
12. We call upon all patriotic, democratic and anti-imperialist to come together and fight against State sponsored terrorism. We demand immediate withdrawal of the Police force from Kashipur and restore normalcy. We demand that the Kashipur struggle people should be given utmost protection for their rightful struggle. If the MLAs and Leaders of the political parties are not able to express their democratic views/opinions, then what is the fate of the people and those fighting with them.
Fax message sent by:
. 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
. Gangadhar Mishra, Sarvodaya
. Rajendra Sarangi, Convenor, Loka Pakhya
. Ashok Pradhan CPI-ML (Liberation) State Committee Member
. Samarendra Das, Samjwadi Jana Parishad
. Pradeep Senapati, Samajwadi Party