[Reader-list] Fwd: The killing of Orissa's marginalised must stop.

Sagnik Chakravartty sagnik_chakravartty at yahoo.com
Tue Dec 11 19:37:36 IST 2001

The killing of Orissa's marginalized must stop. 

It has become a trend in the state of Orissa to
suppress the demands 
of marginalized sections of adivasis and dalits by
using violence 
against them. Police firing of non-violent protestors
is becoming 
very prevalent and has occured several times in the
past years. 
Support groups of the marginalized people of Orissa
request that you 
write to the Chief Minister in view of the recent
firing killing at- 
least 5 people including 2 women in Orissa. 


December 2001: On the 30th of October 2001, the armed
police of the 
State of Orissa entered Rengabhati village in the
Raigarh police 
station of Nabarangpur district and opened fire at a
gathering of 400 
adivasis. Two of them were instantly killed while the
third one 
succumbed to injury in a government hospital the same
day. Fifty 
others were injured by the bullets, four in serious
condition. On the 
11th of November, the police fired at a non-violent
rally of several 
thousand women who were protesting against against the
mentioned deaths and arbitrary arrests of several
others. Two more 
women were killed in the firing. 
The past few years have shown repeated occurrence of
state controlled 
violence. One of the earlier incidents of firing was
at Majhiguda 
village in Gajapati District on the 31st of Dec 1999
where eight 
people including one adivasi woman died in the firing.
On December 
16th 2000 police opened fire on a non-violent
gathering of adivasis 
in Maikanch village killing three and wounding several
Several other instances of use of lethal force have
occurred and seem 
to continue unabated. 

The conflict-ridden blocks of Raigarh and Umorkote
have a population, 
which mainly comprise of adivasis and dalits. While
land is the cause 
of conflict in Raigarh, forest is the main source of
contention in 
Umorkote. The main conflict is over precious resources
of forest and 
land between these dalit and tribal people and
refugees from 
Bangladesh that have been rehabilitated here by the
State Government. 
The settlers have been accused of systematic land
grabbing and 
destruction of forests. The indigenous people have
been under 
constant threat of losing their land and forest
resources. Threatened 
by displacement, illegal land grabbing and complicated
problems, they have been sidelined in any development
program that is 
attempted. Political forces have further complicated
the situation by 
using the settlers as potential vote banks. The state,
instead of 
listening to the demands of the dalit and tribal
population, has been 
using force to repress them. 

The Raigarh predicament has its origin several decades
earlier in 
some ill-implemented rehabilitation schemes by the
government of 
Orissa. The state of Orissa was given a large amount
of funds to help 
with rehabilitation of Bangladeshi refugees. Land was
allocated to 
refugee settlers paying no attention to existing
conditions of the 
local inhabitants who were primarily dependent on the
forests and their land for livelihood. Umorkote and
Malkangiri, which 
were sub-divisions in the undivided Koraput district,
were chosen as 
the right place for settling the refugees. Umorkote
had a thick and 
dense forest cover enough to sustain the livelihood of
the local 
tribals and dalits for generations to come. The
government needed 
52500 acres of land to settle 7500 refugee families.
However it 
cleared 270000 acres of forest land - much more than
required. Local 
protests over the loss of the forest and livelihood
were suppressed. 
The settlers were also provided water facilities,
seeds for 
agriculture and other development benefits. They could
also get 
scheduled caste certificates independent of what their
background was. This had a negative impact on the
dalits who lost job 
opportunities available to them. Unequal development
gradually lead to the settlers becoming the dominant
economic and 
social power in the community. Systematic land
grabbing by the 
settlers increased this inequality.Though, each
settler's family had 
been given 7 acres of land it is alleged now that on
an average a 
settler holds 40 to 45 acres of land. Some of them
have got as high 
as 200 acres of land. This has fueled dispute and
resentment in the 
area between the settlers and the original
inhabitants. The state has 
continued to ignore poverty related issues and
corruption has been 
rampant in suppressing the claims of the poorer
original inhabitants. 
Most jobs in the area in schools & anganwadis, gram
construction, banks and trading now belong to the
settlers. The 
settlers have got easy access to loans in the banks
and in turn 
operate as moneylenders with high interest rates . In
some cases they 
have confiscated the property of the adivasis.. The
police and forest 
officials have been helping them gain access to
illegal forest land. 
They have ignored any complaints from the locals about
land grabbing 
which seems to go on unchecked. The government has
been helping the 
settlers at the cost of the local inhabitants. By
following a highly 
discriminatory policy the state has not only created a
divide between 
the deprived people and the settlers but through years
indifference also perpetuated the divide. 

The locals have organized themselves in two groups to
fight the 
injustice. In Umorkote they formed the Jungle Surakhya
Manch, which 
has been working on the issue of saving the forest and
livelihoods. In Raigarh a forum called the "Dalit
Samaj" is leading 
the movement against illegal land grabbing. The groups
have been able 
to mobilize more than 100 villages in favor of their
demands. The 
demands included among other things immediate
restoration of tribal 
land in the possession of Bangla settlers, immediate
issue of patta 
(land records) to tribals who have been cultivating
land for generations, end of illegal deforestation,
regeneration of 
forest on regained lands, land to the landless and
scrapping of scheduled caste status granted to Bangla
Numerous protests and demands against this
discriminatory policy of 
the union and state government has brought no changes.
The movements 
which were peaceful throughout have now taken a turn
for the worse. 
The efforts to reclaim their land by the tribals and
dalits together 
has not being taken kindly by forces that survive on
exploitation. Two people were shot dead by land
grabbers in the 
presence of the police after an armed mob of 3000
people invaded the 
dalit village Jambodora on 24th of June 2001. No
action has been 
taken against the main culprits despite a number of
rallies and 
demonstrations organized by the Dalit Samaj after the
incident. On 
Oct 30th Samaru Gand - a dalit went to harvest rice
from what was 
originally his land - now grabbed by the village
sarpanch. The police 
with no provocation from the locals open fire on them
leading to 3 
deaths. More firing by the police occured on the 11th
November of a 
peaceful rally held by women killing two women. 

The theme is similar in the Kashipur block of Rayagada
Here, the Paroja-Kondha adivasis have been resisting a
bauxite mining 
company, which threatens to displace them and
completely ruin their 
livelihood. The state government has done little to
address the just 
demands and needs of these communities and has pushed
for forced 
rehabilitation which will throw these communities out
of their homes 
with no where to go. In both examples, conflict has
been caused by 
gross negligence of the people's right to livelihood
and basic human 
dignity. The state has not given any consideration to
the affected 
people. Chronic negligence, forced displacement, lack
of compensation 
and marginalization of resources have pushed people to
starvation and 
extreme poverty. In each of these areas the affected
people have been 
organizing themselves in groups to be better heard.
The state has 
been opposed to such organizing. To discourage such
attempts the 
state machinery has come down hard on them resorting
to violence 
instead of dialogue. 

The Kashipur struggle has been a difficult one. The
government in 
return for taxes and royalty gave 2700 hectares of
land to a multi- 
national bauxite mining venture by UAIL (Utkal Alumina
Ltd ) a consortium of Norsk Hydro of Norway, ALCAN of
Canada and 
Hindalco of India. The venture is 100% export
oriented. At no stage 
of the project were the people who owned the land
consulted or their 
participation sought out. The government handed over
some of the most 
precious lands in Orissa without any form of consent
from the people 
owning it. This is against the constitution of India
and the "Samatha 
judgement" which came as an order from the Supreme
Court in 1997. The 
law clearly asks that development take into account
local opinion by 
procuring the acquiescence of the Gram Sabhas (or
local councils). 
This basic issue was repeatedly ignored. More than
2100 families in 
two dozen villages stand to lose their land, including
370 families 
who would lose all their lands. The negative impacts
of this project 
go well beyond just the human toll. The local
environment will be 
seriously affected. Hills will be flattened and rains
can sweep silt 
into a huge reservoir that provides water for the
region. Several 
streams that feed the Indravati river would be
destroyed. The most 
visible impact on the environment of mining for
alumina is effluent 
discharge. Dumping discharge into the streams and
rivers would raise 
the pH level causing severe contamination. Several
perennial sources 
of river would dry up and thousands of people will
lose their land 
and livelihood to displacement. Agricultural land will
no longer be 
cultivable. When confronted by the people on questions
environmental impacts of the mines and the refineries,
UAIL claims to 
have conducted several studies. However, even after
several requests, 
the documents have not been made public. A mandatory
public hearing 
which is supposed to be conducted has not been
conducted by UAIL. 
Thus the overall impact of the UAIL project is not

The affected villages have been resisting this project
since they 
first learnt about the possible ill effects in 1993.
The anti-mining 
movement is lead by two voluntary groupings of local
people known 
as "Prakrutika Sampada Suraksha Parishad" and
"Baphlimali Surakhya 
Samiti". People have organized themselves to
participate in rallies, 
road blockades and demonstrations in front of local
offices. The government and UAIL have sought to
suppress their 
claims. The conflict between the people and the
pro-company forces 
culminated in the firing at Maikanch village on 16
December 2000. 
Around 4000 people were in a meeting to discuss their
next road 
blockade when armed police descended upon them and
opened fire. The 
local police killed three unarmed innocent adivasis
and wounded 
several more. These killings have further antagonized
the locals who 
see the use of force as a violation of their basic
human rights. 
Local resistance to the UAIL project has only
increased after the 
violence. Similar incidents have occurred in other
areas nearby. 
There has been a clear and persistent bias of the
state towards 
corporate entities at the cost of its own people.
Orissa continues 
this despite the protests of its people; a protest
that has been 
peaceful and led by some of its most marginalized

Please do take the time to send these petitions to
lend your support 
to the fight against injustice in Orissa. 

Information contained in this letter is based on
independent press 
reports created by Vivekananda Dash and Sudhir Patnaik
both of whom 
have been reporting on problems in marginalized areas
of Orissa. 



ACTION: You may copy the contents of the letter below,
or use it to 
write to your own letter if you like. write to the
Chief Minister 
(cmorissa at ori.nic.in) and to the President of India 
(pressecy at alphanic.in). 

Shri Navin Patnaik, 
Chief Minister, Orissa Secretariat 

Subject: Police firing on adivasis and dalits in
Nowrangpur District. 
Human rights violations and unjust imprisonment of
people involved. 

Dear Shri Patnaik, 

We would like to express our horror over the recent
killing and 
unjust imprisonment of several adivasis and dalits in
district in your state. We would like to request you
to intervene in 
the following incidents and ensure that justice is
served to those 
who have been constantly ignored and at the receiving
end of 
injustice. The following incidents point to a complete
negligence of 
human rights and suggest state based terrorism by the
Orissa State 

Three people from the adivasi and dalit communities
were killed in 
police firing on the 30th of October 2001 in
Rengabhati village when 
there was no provocation. It is a gross violation of
human rights 
when police fire at non-violent people. 

On the 11th of November, the police fired at a
non-violent rally of 
several thousand women who were protesting against
against the above 
mentioned deaths and related unfair arrest of several
others. Two 
more women were killed by the firing. 

Two people killed on 24th June 2001 in Jambodora
village in the 
presence of the police who did nothing to stop the

Such firing and killing by the police of non-violent
protestors seems 
to be becoming common place in Orissa. This has come
on the heels of 
the firings in Majhiguda in Gajapati District on the
31st of Dec 
1999, Maikanch in December 2000 and other areas where
poor people are 
fighting for survival.. The state police has
repeatedly fired upon 
and killed innocent adivasis and dalits. incidents of
brutality seems to have become the norm in Orissa and
are evidence of 
repression by the state of Orissa of basic human
rights of some of 
the most marginalized people in the community. By not
allowing people 
the freedom to express their opinion and demands using
means, the state administration in infringing on
rights of these communities. Instead of listening to
the demands of 
the poor the state police seem to be firing and
killing them. Your 
government is supposed to protect the rights of
innocent men and 
women and ensure that every section in the community
is given a fair 
chance to express their demands and concerns. We are
that the government has so far washed its hands of
responsibility and instead resorted to suppression of
demands. We 
request you to not remain a by-stander of such crimes.
Please do take 
the time and responsibility to ensure that the voices
of the poor in 
Orissa are heard and they are given justice. The
adivasis and dalits 
are protesting on issues related to their lands and
forests, in 
essence their right to live with dignity. We request
you to take heed 
to the needs of these communities, understand their
desperation and 
provide them the opportunity to have a say in their
development. This 
is the minimum expected from any government. Without
this you will 
not be carrying out your responsibilities. By
repeatedly ignoring the 
demands of the people and violating their rights to
justice and 
livelihood the state is responsible for pushing these
people into 
helplessness and despair, and therefore into the arms
of violence. 
You must take care of the problems these people are
facing in a 
democratic and humane way in keeping with the Vth
Schedule of the 
Indian constitution. Without this Orissa will forever
remain a 
backward state which commits crimes against its own

We request you to take the following steps in
Nowrangpur, Kashipur 
and other areas of Orissa. 

Look into the cases of police violence personally and
ensure that 
such incidents do not happen in the future. You should
take personal 
responsibility for police abuse of force. 

Enter into meaningful dialogue with the dalit and
adivasi groups 
fighting for their livelihood and resources in all
areas of Orissa 
including Nowrangpur and Rayagada districts. The state
should make a 
sincere attempt to work with the groups and reach

Ensure that land taken away from the people is
restored to them. 
Illegal occupation of forest land by other communities
needs to be 
stopped and discouraged. 

Ensure that all landless dalit and adivasi people are
atleast 5 acres of land, to enable them to be on par
with the 
Bangladeshi refugee settlers. Without this the state
is creating an 
imbalance among the community causing further
antagonism and ethnic 
divides. No forests need to be cleared for this
purpose, land 
encroached by the settlers would be enough to meet
this requirement 
of land. 

Look into the scheduled caste certificates being given
to settlers 
irrespective of their background. These are taking
away jobs from the 

Look into adverse effects that the proposed UAIL
company has on the 
people in the Kashipur region and stop any development
that does not 
have community participation. 

Ensure that the affected communities have a say in the
development of their region. They should not have to
be forced out of 
their lands without their consent. 

Take steps to look at the special situation of the
already displaced 
communities and ensure them all facilities for proper
Declare a complete ban on land transactions in entire
state till the 
process of land settlement is taken up and completed. 

We hope that you will take cognizance of the right
livelihood of the 
poorest communities of your state and do the needful. 


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