STATE REPRESSION IN KASHIPUR
During the last 12-years struggle, one of the many questions that Kashipur movement has successfully raised is the unjust behavior of the state towards people in the present system.
On 16th December, 2000, at Maikanch police brutally gunned down three unarmed people and injured many more. Undeterred, people continued to struggle. Once again, the state has unleashed repression on the movement defying all democratic norms. And, this is only for the benefit of two corporate houses involved in bauxite mining and processing.
WHAT HAPPENED ON I ST DECEMBER,2004
December 2004- yet another tragic December for the people of Kashipur. On Ist December, to set up a police outpost and police barrack at Karol (near Kucheipadar), Mr. Pramod Kumar Meherda, Dist. Collector, Rayagada; Mr. Sanjay Kumar, SP, Rayagada and Mr. Kishore Chandra Mund, OIC, Tikri Police Station reached the spot with 10 platoons of police force. Local villagers got to know about it in the morning. Nearly, 300-400 people squatted on the street opposing this plan of setting-up of police outpost and barrack. Because they did not want police outpost, but schools and hospitals (for which they have been demanding before the Chief Minister and the Collector for long). They could realize the motive of the Govt. to set up police outpost and police barrack, instead of schools and hospitals, is to suppress their voice against the bauxite mining and the alumina plant.
The Dist. Collector with the police force reached the spot around 11 A.M. On seeing them, people started raising slogans: “No outpost, we want hospital, police force go back” “UAIL go back”, “police repression , Down Down”, “Collector, give us medicine, no lathi, give us water (for irrigation), no bullet”. In this protest demonstration, women were on the front, men on the back. Though the collector was present, he did not bother to talk to people. Rather, OIC, Tikri with police force came and announced, “womenfolk, clear the road, otherwise we will rape you”. Immediately, elderly women came to the forefront and sent the young girls and women back. Then the elderly women undressed themselves and challenged the police, “come and rape us, but we will neither leave our land, nor will we go back.”
The police, in the presence of the Collector, hurling filthy words, announced, “ Doms and Kands, you are fighting, clear the road immediately, otherwise we will shoot you.” But when people did not go back, police first pelted stones and then tear- gassed. But people collecting the shells threw back at the police. Then police blank-fired three rounds. Consequently, some women out of fear started going back and the police seeing people going back began the lathi-charge. People ran here and there and police went after them beating mercilessly. Some people taking the dongar and hill routes reached the villages. Six people, including two women, got seriously injured and lied down on the street. Police took them to the police station and later forwarded them to court. Two of them lying on the street were shouting back, “ Though you beat us to death, we won’t leave our land and won’t allow company to set up the plant”. They are still in the Rayagada jail.
REPRESSION AFTER 1ST DECEMBER
On 2nd December, 2004 CRPF battalions stationed at Rayagada for anti-naxalite operation were mobilized. Jawans of CRPF came marching from Rayagada to Tikri (60 km). They were deployed in the entire route of Rabkana to Tikri(30 km). More over, forces of Indian Reserve Battalion and Orissa State Armed Forces were also mobilized.
The CRPF were stationed at all the entry routes to Kucheipadar area. They also started flag marches on the main road and village roads to create an atmosphere of terror in the area.
On 2nd December, at 10 O’ clock in the night, police force picked up Naveen Nayak and Loknath Nayak , working committee members of PSSP from their village and sent them to jail. Naveen Nayak is also the convenor of Sasubahu Mali Surakshya Samiti, an organisation opposed to proposed Sterlite Alumina project. Bulka Miniaka, convenor of Basundhara Surakshya Samiti and president of PSSP was forcefully picked up from his village Barigan, Pipal Padar Panchayat, Laxmipur Block of Koraput district.
On 5th December, Duryodhan Dora of Tikrapada and Bhobani Goud of Lachhuguda were picked up by the police from Dongasil market place. Now they are in the jail. Similarly, Jagannath Sahu and Chitrasen Bag of Bagrijhola were arrested near Tikri and Rayagada respectively.
Beside, police are moving from village to village, beating and intimidating the main activists. Dombri Majhi of Kaliakana, Samiti member of Tikri Panchayat; Purandar Nayak of Dimundi, Bhaskar Nayak of Karol have been beaten by the police. Police have threatened them that if they participate in the movement they will be shot at.
On 18th December, Basudev Majhi of Kucheipadar took his sister to Tikri hospital for treatment. Police arrested him and sent to jail. Sri Hara Bania of Baragada district was arreasted on 30th December at Tikiri while coming back from Kucheipadar. He is an activist of Samajabadi Jana Parishad and Orissa Krushak Sangathan This is first time in the history of Kashipur struggle an activist from outside who came to express solidarity to this democratic struggle was arreasted.
On 18th January, 2005 Trinath Majhi, Umashankar Majhi and Samrendra Majhi of Kucheipadar were picked up by police while coming back from a market.
All these above villages would be affected by the UAIL plant and those were arreasted or are detained by police are the activists of PSSP. If the activists visit any village, police immediately reaching there, are threatening the villagers that their village will be completely “smashed” and they all will be arrested.
The weekly hats play a very important role in the economic activity of the area. Nearly 8-10 villages use one weekly hat to sell their local produces like Ragi, Alsi, vegetables and etc. and purchase essential items like salt, dry fish, chilly etc. For the police activity, people are afraid to go to weekly hats and it is affecting them economically.
So far 18 activists of Kashipur and Laxmipur block have been arrested and only one woman and one man have been granted bail. For others High Court (Cuttack) has to be moved for bail. Many of them have been denied bail for being falsely booked under an arson case. Krishna Saunta, the former leader of the movement has now joined hands with the company. Some time back in mid-November, he himself, with the connivance of the police and company officials, set fire to his own temporary hut. The police, without investigating into the case of arson, are now booking the arrested people under arson so that people get harassed and don’t get bail easily. That temporary hut was on a land that belongs to Shri Jairam Majhi, a villager of Kucheipadar. He has given a written statement to the court in this regard.
For the last two months, 8 to 10 platoons of police force are permanently stationed at Tikri Police Station (11 km from Kucheipadar). BDO (Block Development Officer), Kashipur and Tahasildar, Kashipur, who are supposed to look after the development work and land related job of the block are now staying at the police station with the charge of a magistrate to give firing order. Another two platoons of police are stationed at the newly constructed outpost and barrack at Karol (very near to Kucheipadar). Similarly, another police outpost is newly set up at Maikanch and one platoon of police is stationed there. All these forces deployed are regularly visiting the weekly hats (market) of the Kashipur, Laxmipur and Dasmantpur blocks of undivided Koraput district and beating, threatening people, checking vehicles on the street and searching the local activists.
On 19th January, police of the barrack near Kucheipadar raped and molested women while returning from the river. When people in reaction to the crime gheraoed the police station were beaten up by those armed police. The DIG of police though visited the place but did not take any action against the police due to the pressure of UAIL. The local media knowing the incidents are silent.
Who raise their voices against this process of mining, became ‘anti-socials’, ‘anit-naional’ and ‘anit-development’, ‘extremists’. In between, the activists of PSSP like Rabishankar, Saroj and Debaranjan and Bhagaban Majhi ( Convenor of PSSP) have been called by the administration as anti-socials and would be booked under National Security Act if they be captured.
After the police firing at Maikanch on 16th December,2000, the movement, in protest, organised a road blockade programme at Rabkana (on Rayagad-Koraput route) on 20th December, 2000. Nearly 5000 people participated in it. The success of the programme showed people are not cowed down. To divert the attention from the core issue, the Govt. of Orissa set up an Enquiry Commission under Justice P. K. Mishra.
Meanwhile, the movement with the demand of scrapping the project raised the issues of irrigation, health, education and regeneration of forest in the entire area. The movement, on its own initiative mobilized people to protect forest in their villages also started education centres. It also tried to co-ordinate with other anti-mining struggles of Laxmipur, Dasmantpur and Thuamul-Rampur block (Dist Kalahandi) opposing the projects of Birla, Sterlite-Vedanta. It also participated in the protest demonstration with several other groups and organisations against 19th World Mining Congress held in Delhi on November, 03 raising the issue of loot and plunder by the MNCs of our natural resources. PSSP with other organisations took a lead role in making a network of struggle groups at the state level as well as at the national level
In January 2004, the Mishra Commission submitted its report.The Commission in its report had blamed the role of the then SP, Rayagada Mr. Jaswant Jethua (now posted in Mayurbhanj), DSP Mr. K. N. Pattanaik, Mr. Prabhasankar Nayak, OIC Kashipur (now in Kashipur), Mr. Subash Swain, Police Officer, Mr. Golak Nath Badjena, BDO, Kashipur (in the charge of Magistrate on the day of the incident) for the firing. The Commission going beyond its terms of reference had prescribed for the necessity of bauxite mining and alumina plant for an agriculturally backward area like Kashipur (More information see the report prepared by PUCL, Bhubaneswar Unit). The Cabient of Govt. of Orissa, without taking any action on the erring police and administrative officials deputed Mr. Jagatananda Panda, RDC(South) to collect opinion of local people regarding the project.
In the name of collecting people’s opinion, Mr. Panda stayed at Rayagada for 4-5 months to work to manufacture people’s opinion in favour of the project. The company provided all the financial support for it. Local level leaders including all the MLAs, District Council members of Rayagada and Koraput districts of all the political parties were paid to come to Rayagada and were persuaded and lured to give their support in favour of the company.
In protest against this activity, the movement staged demonstrations in front of the office of the Collector and appealed to RDC to come to local area to assess popular opinion. On 28th March, 2004 a rally was organised at Tikri protesting Mishra Commission’s prescription for Alumina plant and Mr. Panda’s nefarious activity at Rayagada. A memorandum was also submitted to the Chief Minister. But Mr. Panda, without coming to the area gave his report in favour of the company.
On 22nd October, 2004 a rally was organised at Tikri under the leadership of Bhagban Majhi, Convenor PSSP demanding action against erring police and administrative officials. Nearly 7000 people participated in it. An FIR was also lodged against all the erring officials in the Tikri Police Station. The popular participation proved the falsehood of Mr. Panda’s report. This became a head ache for the administration. The company arranged to send some of the local political party leaders who are in its payroll to meet the Chief Minister and to demand for the project and to take action against those who are opposed to the project. In the month of November, in the conference of SPs and Collectors, the Cheief Minister declared, “ forces opposed to the industry will be firmly dealt with”.
On 28th November, 2004 under the leadership of All Party Committee (BJP, BJD, Congress and BSP) a rally was organised at Tikri in support of the company. The company spent 22 lakhs of rupees for the programme. 96 trucks and 52 jeeps were arranged to bring people. Only 3000 people assembled there. Many of them were party workers and had been brought from the outside and also were paid wage for the day @ Rs. 100-200. But Mr. Meherda, SP, Rayagada gave statement in the press, 15000 people had participated in the rally and all supported the project”. In an interview he told, “ people opposed to the industry are anti-socials”. “When majority wants industry and minority opposes it – is not this against society ? he reasoned. He also threatended, “ we know how to deal with the people who are opposing industry”. The main slogans in the rally were, “ welcome, industry”, we want protestors be sent to jail”. 18,000 food packets were purchased from Andhra Pradesh to distribute in the rally. Many of these packets had rotten and when cattle ate those packets 13 died and one cowherd boy died of eating the rotten food. But the Administration without taking any action preferred to remain silent.
Since Ist December, 2004 the state has unleashed repression on the movement in the name of development of people. But the real people who are benefiting from this development are some leaders of political parties, ministers, police and administrative officials and some company agents.
RESPONSE OF THE MOVEMENT AND OTHERS
In response to the rally of All Party Committeee on 28th November, a parallel meeting was organised at Nuapada(near Tikri). 2000 people participated in it. Police forces had surrounded our meeting.
On 2nd December, after the incident near Karol, a meeting was called at Kucheipadar to arrange for the treatment of the injured and to bail out the arrested people. But the same day, the doctor of Kucheipadar Primary Health Centre was transferred so that injured people do not get immediate health care.
On 7th December, a protest meeting was organised at Kucheipadar against police repression. Despite police threat and flag marches by para-military forces people from nearby villages participated. And it was also decided in the meeting to celebrate Martyrs Day on 16th December, come what may. On 10th December, Human Rights Day several organisations including anti-lower Sukhtel River Dam Organisation (Bolangir) staged a mass demonstration before Northern RDC at Sambalpur against police repression in Kashipur.
As decided, 0n 16th December Martyrs Day was celebrated at Bagrijhola. To terrorise people not to participate in the programme, para-military forces were continuously conducting flag marches in the entire area. Despite all these, 1500 people participated in it. To support and to express solidarity, activists of CPI-ML (Liberation), CPI-ML(New Democracy), Deshpremi Jana Samukhya, Lok Sangram Manch, Rashtriya Yuba Parishad, Sarvodaya had participated in the programme.
Shri Narayana Reddy, MLA, Shri Sambhunath Nayak, MLA and many members of various political parties and groups like CPI-ML (Red Flag), CPI-ML (New Democracy), CPI (M), CPI, SUCI, Samajbadi Jana Parishad, Samajvadi Party, Utkal Sarvodaya Mandal were coming to participate in the programme. But at Tikri they were attacked by the company goons in the presence of police. Police instead of taking action against the company goons detained them at Tikri Police Station.
On the same day many students , activists, writers and journalists nearly 400 participated in day long dharna before the office of Alcan in Montrelo, Canada under the banner of Alcan’t ( see website www.saanet.org/alcant).
At the point of entry to the village Kucheipadar, on a board was written “ without permission, no entry to company officials, police and administrative officials”. On 29th December, at noon, Tikri OIC with police force took that board away.
On December, 30th Shri Hara Bania, an activist of Samajvadi Jana Parishad was arrested by the police at Tikri (He has been released on bail). Protesting his arrest, 500 blocked the road for 12 hours on 31st December, 2004.
After Outpost and barracks, now the administration has started the work of widening the road connecting the plant and mining area. On 4th January, 2005 police forces in 40 vehicles reached the area at night and on next day the UAIl tried to start its road work connecting the plant and mining. In response to that, people sat on the road for 5 days (January 6-10) to stop the work. Temporarily, the work has stopped.
DEVELOPMENT WHO PAYS AND REAPS THE BENEFIT
Utkal Alumina International Ltd. is a joint venture of Indian company HINDALCO (55% share) and Canadian company ALCAN (45%). Earlier, TATA, HYDRO (Noreigway) and ALCOA (America) were part of the venture. But due the movement they withdrew from the venture. It is a project of 4500 crores of rupees and 100% export-oriented. The project will source bauxite from Baphli Mali having a deposit of 195 million ton and will set up the refinery plant near Kucheipadar. There is no plan even to produce aluminium from alumina. The capacity of the plant is to use 9 million ton bauxite per annum. Hence the entire bauxite deposit will be exhausted within 22-23 years.
As per latest company report, 1400 people will be directly employed of which 400 will be non-technical and the rest are of technical in nature. Mr. S. P. Sawant, the company executive in a seminar arranged by the Govt, has recently said, “ man power needed for the project will not be available in Kashipur”. The company promises to employ 147 families of three villages (Kendukhunti, Ramibeda, Tala Karol) in the non-technical jobs which will be completely displaced.(This estimate is based on 1991 Census and has not taken into account the population as per 2001 Census). But no guarantee of employment has been given. Because the Rehabilitation Package, it is mentioned that families not employed will be given Rs. 50000 as one time settlement. No agreement is yet to be signed with the displaced families. But for the people of 24 villages who are going to do lose their land have not been promised employment facility. Secondly, nearly 22000 people of 82 villages both in plant and mining area will be affected directly and indirectly by this project. Rs. 1,20,000 to 1,50,000 is being given as compensation for per acre of land acquired. For company and the Govt, people those who are depending on forest and river are no way affected by the project. Hence no talk of compensation for them. People those who are getting money as compensation in exchange of their land where will they get land to buy?
Not only UAIL, as many as 5 bauxite mining and alumina projects are in the pipeline. They are covering 5 blocks of 3 districts i.e, Kashipur ( Rayagada district) , Luxmipur and Dasamantpur ( Koraput), Lanjigada and Thuamulrampur (Kalahandi). Sterite is proposed to source bauxite from Sasubohu mali of Kashipur block. Larson and Tubro from Sijimali and kutrumali ( Kashipur block) , Birla from Kodinga Mali ( Luxmipur block) and Vedanta from Niyamgiri and Khandual mali of Kalahandi district. This area of three districts of southern Orissa is bauxite reach area. When due to bauxite people are getting perennial streams which help in cultivation on the otherhand the total investment in these projects will be 20,000 crores. The total bauxite deposit in these areas is around 1000 million tons. If we calculate taking into consideration the present price only UAIL ( joint venture of HIndalco of India and ALcan of Canada) will reap profit to the tune of Rs . 2,88,000 crore during the 22-23 years of project like , where as the government will get only 1300-1400 crores as royalty during that period ( for one ton of bauxite govt. gets only Rs. 60/- as royalty)
The company is dangling the offer of wage labour in construction activity. But this will, at best, continue for 4 years and 3000 will be get work. But our experience shows otherwise. The huge of heavy machines even in Food for Work Programme is seen. Secondly, company generally employs people from outside so that they cannot bargain more. But if we accept the company argument, what will happen after 4 years? This question has been raised before minister, collector, S.P. but they try to avoid it saying, “ you will get job”. But jobs will be provided to a few families, but how the entire population will benefit from it. When asked, they remain silent.
The experience of Damanjodi and Indravait is an eye opener for Kashipur people. In Damanjodi, only 440 families of 14 villages are employed in the project. After 20 years, NALCO is proposed to be privatized and employees are in fear of losing their jobs. Now they are agitating to protect their jobs. Even an employee dies while working, his next kith and kin are not provided job. One member from a family is employed, the rest are not getting any benefit. It is also fuelling quarrel between brothers. Many displaces of Indravati project migrated to other places because they did not get land in their area, though they had money to buy. Those who were employed in the Dam project are going to loose their jobs (at least 70) in the name Administrative Reforms. People of Kashipur have seen all these things from close quarters. So, how these thousands and thousands of people will get land? The tribals who are not used to other kinds of occupation other than agriculture will not be terribly devastated without land, their only source of livelihood?
The anti-mining struggles in Kashipur and Lanjigada are of course, struggling to protect the live and livelihood of local people. It is also more than that. Our struggles are also against the plunder and loot of the natural resources by the MNCs and big industrial houses, a struggle against the pauperization of many and the fattening of a few, a struggle against the loot of the resources of many for the benefit of the few. We are also struggling to protect the non-renewable natural resources for the minimum use of the people and also for the succeeding generations.
For all these reasons at this juncture we appeal to all like minded political groups organisations individuals to support and to express solidarity by raising your voice against state repression.
Kucheipadar, Kashipur, Dist : Rayagada – 765015 (Orissa, India)
Phone : 06856-235092 (pp)
This is prepared by the activists of PSSP and published on 26th January, 2005