I am posting the update of Independent Media dated 14/01/2006.
Independent Media Update 14/01/2006 on Kalinganagar
We must apologize for delays in the updates on Kalinganagar. There has been reasonably extensive press coverage of the Kalinga Nagar in various newspapers and TV channels, which need not be covered by us. However, the coverage does tend to ignore certain critical aspects of the situation.
The reality of Kalinganagar is becoming obscured by subtle propaganda launched with the help of a compliant media and collaborating political parties. In this media blitz designed to obfuscate the reality of the situation, the tribal people of Kalinga Nagar have been the ones who have remained steadfast with their demands. It is interesting to note that those who visit Kalinga Nagar try to twist these demands to meet their own political agenda, and often miss the central and radical demands of the people of Kalinga Nagar, which simply says that they will not yield an inch of land for industries come what may. It may also be noted that they have demanded for a complete ban on industries in tribal areas and demanded the resignation of the CM and the Finance Minister and filing of criminal cases against them. They also demanded the immediate dismissal of the then Collector and SP and their arrest for murder.
It is for the fulfillment of these demands that the Tribal people of Kalinga Nagar continue to sit on the National Highway since last 12 days in the biting cold. They scorn the amounts of money being offered for compensation, and inspite of the efforts of the current "enlightened" Collector, continue to spurn all offers to bribe them. An offer for multipartite talk on 14 th Jan. was spurned by the tribals, even though the Collector, Jajpur, waited the whole day at Duburi.
It is also to be pointed out that they are angry, not only with the Government, but also with the media which refuses to believe the extent of police brutality and heinousness visited on innocent tribals. The media has very comfortably hidden the tribal people's grim version of the events of the 2 nd January, which depict the deliberate and callous killings indulged in by the State – however, the truth is trickling out bit by bit. Only yesterday the Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes Kunwar Singh said that " people have alleged before the commission that the hands and private parts of the victims were chopped off after the post-mortems". Another fact finding team from OPDR said that dead bodies were dismembered with palms, breasts and other private organs being chopped off.
In our update on 4th Jan, 2005, we pointed out that "The firing was indiscriminate and in all directions, and continued for over an hour. Even people who were 200-300 meters away were injured. Many people who were trying to escape have bullet injuries in the back, whereas others, who stood and tried to fight back, have been injured in neck and torso in front….. Most shockingly, the representatives of Visthapan Virodhi Janamanch have alleged that six adivasies who were lightly injured and couldn't run away were picked up by the police, and their hands were chopped off by the police. The bodies have been received by the people and all the six bodies have their hands chopped off. Their names are Mukta Bankara (a woman), Landu Jarika, Bhagwan Sai, Jinga jarika, Ramu Gagare and Arti Jamuda ".
However, the police and the State administration initial said that chopping hands is a standard procedure in post mortem. Then they claimed that the Doctors conducting the post-mortem were at fault in cutting off and keeping the hands. The three doctors concerned were suspended, though they claimed that they were asked by the District Administration to cut and keep the hands. All this sounded very plausible and has been lapped up by the press and media, as well as the political parties. The chapter was more or less closed, till the relatives managed to get the explosive information about mutilated genitalia and breasts out to the press.
It is the same persons whose private parts (males) and breasts (female) were chopped off along with their hands. This was discovered by their relatives when they uncovered the bodies to wash them before they cremated them. The relatives said that they were too embarrassed and scared to inform everyone, as the situation was very explosive, and spreading of this information would have led to immediate retaliation by the assembled tribals and consequent bloodshed. However, all their efforts to inform the media after the cremation was in vain till the NDTV took up the issue in their national broadcast on 13 th January, 2005.
This information raised certain questions and provides directions for investigations. The District Administration has flatly refused the tribals claim that private parts have been chopped off. However, given the credibility of the District Administration, one has to give more credibility to the statements of the relatives of the deceased. Given the tribal culture, it's extremely embarrassing for the relatives to come up with this claim – but they have reiterated the fact of mutilation with press, including on camera. This claim strengthens the statement of the tribal leaders that the mutilations cut off not during the post-mortem, but by the police as an act of retribution, either before or after death of the injured tribals taken to Jajpur. If one considers this claim seriously, following questions come to mind:
i) Cutting of hand, genitalia and breasts are not part of post mortem procedures. However, these are standard means of extreme retribution and revenge all over the world, and especially in India.
ii) In case these were post-mortem removals, they are highly irregular and criminal in nature.
iii) Why were the people not informed in advance that body parts have been removed for post-mortem?
iv) The people say that all persons taken to Jajpur Hospital were lightly injured when they were picked up by the police. How is it that all persons taken to Jajpur Hospital ended up dead, and were returned with chopped off hands and private parts?
v) When cornered over the chopped hands, the administration suspended the Doctors. Why it is that even at that time, the administration didn't mention about the mutilations of private parts? Why is it trying to hide the same now?
One would provide the benefit of doubt to people's version, and therefore consider the grim possibility of deliberate murder of injured persons by cutting of their body organs as revenge by the police. Following must be done to set at rest this heinous possibility:
i) Immediate CBI enquiry into the circumstances of the death of these five persons whose body parts were chopped off.
ii) The doctors involved in the post-mortem must be immediately taken into CBI custody and questioned regarding the reality. Lie detector test must be carried out on them
iii) In case the body parts have been removed for post-mortem, they must be immediately sealed as evidence, and forensic tests carried out to find out whether they were severed from body before or after death, and what instruments were used to dismember them.
iv) In case the above body parts are not preserved as per the standard post-mortem procedure, it will be interpreted that important evidence has been destroyed to whitewash the murders, and that the State and Police are guilty of these heinous murders.
The above steps are necessary if justice is to be done to the tribals of Kalinganagar and clarify what has really happened.
Meanwhile, a number of Fact Finding teams and Delegations have visited Kalinganagar, met the tribal and have issues press releases. We are attaching highlights from one of these reports.
Extracts from "Statement of Central Executive Committee Delegation of AIKMS after its visit to Kalinganagar on January 8, 2006" (released to Press on January 9,2006 at Bhubhanswar)
A delegation of AIKMS (All India Kisan-Mazdoor Sabha) led by its All Indian General Secretary G Diwakar visited Kalinganagar on 08/01/2006. Some of their main findings are:
i) People of Kalinganagar are an agricultural community who has toiled hard to develop their fields and villages. The Government has neither recorded the land ownership nor allotted any land to them.
ii) After the initial displacement in 1997, all the displacements have been forced on the people and have been done through brute force of the police including the use of explosions in the area. Very few of the displaced have been resettled. Those who have been resettled haven't been given given proper facilities or housing. Compensation given is only to those few (10 to 20%) who had pattas. None of the displaced have been given jobs as promised. Only a few have been employed as contract labour doing manual jobs.
iii) Displacement has specifically targeted the tribals while leaving out the non-tribals. It is a result of the rulesr treating tribals as second grade citizens without any basic rights in the society supervised by present rulers. It is also an attempt to divide the people.
iv) The attack on the tribals on January 2, 2006 was premeditated, well organized and with a desire to teach the protestors a lesson and demoralize them. The merciless and barbaric methods of torture used, the chopping off of their hands reflects the attitude of slavemasters towards slaves.
v) People's anger in the entire area and amongst all sections of people is high. They are prepared for disciplined and organized struggle and for paying the supreme sacrifice to defend themselves. Far from demoralizing them the repression has left them even more motivated and determined.
Some of the demands of the AIKMS are:
i) We support entirely the demands raised by the Kalinganagar Movement in the wake of the incident of the police firing on tribals on January 2, 2006.
ii) Not a single person should be displaced in the name of industry or otherwise. In the Kalinganagar area each of the persons who have been displaced already should be given 5 acres of agricultural land.
iii) Chief Minsister Naveen Patnaik, Finance Minsiter Prafulla Ghadei, Insdusty Minister Bishwabhusahn Harichandan, Mines Minister Padmanabh beherea and the SC/ST Development Minister should be removed from the ministry and Naveen Patnaik and Prafulla Ghadei should be tried for murder.
iv) The DGP, Home Secretary, then jajpur SP and Collector and ADM Kalinganagar should be dismissed from service and charged with genocide
v) Family of the deceased should be given Rs. 20 lakhs each and Rs. 10 lakhs for each of the injured must be given immediately
vi) Multinational Companies and monopoly industrial houses should be thrown out of Orissa
vii) Tribals should be given the rights to development using mines, land, water and forests in the area
viii) All cases against the activists of Kalinganagar Movement should be unconditionally withdrawn and the leaders and activists of the movement in the jails should be released unconditionally.
Some findings of the AIKMS Team after its visit to Kalinganagar on January 8, 2006 (only part of the reports is provided)
The people of Kalinganagar were highly hopeful of their development when the Kalinganagar Industrial Complex was begun as they were promised jobs, economic well being and proper rehabilitation against development. In 1997 after the establishment of the Neelanchal Industrial project 634 families (actually more than 1000 as many joint families were counted as one) were displaced. Of these only 182 persons have been given employment in the industry and all of them have been engaged as manual lanoureres under contractors. For resettlement, each family was promised only 10 decimal land in a nearby market area, which was refused by most. No money was given for the construction of the houses. Only one primary school was built in the colony and no other facilities except a few hand pumps have been provided. There is no electricity connection, no sanitation and no common grounds. The resettlement colony of the Jindal Steel doesn't even have a school. This is direct contrast with the laid down objective of resettling oustees in model villages with all facilities. Tribals are expected by the Government to live without use of these facilities in their "developed" stage also.
When the MESCO Plant was build, 500 families were displaced ad they are still to be resettled. The Jindal Plant displaced a number of families who were forced to leave their dwellings by blasting bombs in their village. When Bhushan Steel was being established the government simply bulldozed the entire settlements after the compensations were paid. No rehabilitation was planned for them after this.
Thereafter, after last year on May 9, when Bhoomi Puja of the Maharastra Seamless was being organized the same was opposed by the tribals. The State administration displayed its valour and bravery on the helpless tribals, lathicharged them into fleeing from their homes and dying of injuries untreated and of hunger and starvation.
Government claims not withstanding, the compensation given to the people for their land acquired in 1992-93 has worked out to between Rs. 22,000 to Rs. 37,000 per acre. However it is to be noted that the compensation has been paid only to tose whose names were registered as patta holders. They constituted only about 10-20% of the people residing in these villages. One fifth of these too have not been given their compensation. The rest of the people constituting 80-90% of the people were not considered at all for compensation, as they had no land against their name.
It is interesting that all these "lucky" patta holders are from those families who had been given land during the last land settlement done way back in 1928 by the then Zemindar Krutibas Bhupati. It thus happens that more than 90% of the land belongs to the Government, which has not bothered even once to make a revenue settlement for these traditional owners of these forestlands. It also happens that even though these people are registered as voters and their Panchayats are run, yet there is no land earmarked even as Panchayat Land and their common land and hence no compensation was given for them also.
The people also informed that all land being acquired belongs to the tribals. All land of non-tribals is being exempted from acquisition even if it means altering the free flow of the boundary. This could be a part of the plan of the government to prevent broad based people's unity.
The proposed TATA Steel Plant area is 2000 acres and people from 9 villages were to be displaced. In this case there was no proposal for proper rehabilitation and for jobs.
The Government made plans to go ahead with the construction of boundary wall of TATA Steel in October itself. While the people raised a protest tey were fired at and forced into submission and the construction of the wall continued at a slow pace. While the people planned a big organized protest the government and TATA Steel planned for decisively going ahead with the construction. On the day fateful day when the tribal assembled the government came with full backing to beat back the tribals. 6 platoons comprising nearly 300 policemen had been engaged. The policemen were armed and were told to fire. Unaware of such a firm resolve on the part of the Naveen Patnaik government a delegation of the tribals came forward to talk to the police and TATA officials. This was enough provocation and the police lobbied teargas shells and began firing at almost point blank range of those tribals who walked in the front. Five tribals were either wounded or killed immediately. Facing thus attack the tribals retreated and they pelted stones on the police and attacked. One police person died in the retaliation. In retaliation against this the police continued firing at a long distance, their bullets finding more than 45 targets. This included one child aged 12 years who was near his school. This incident took place at around 11.30 PM.
Some of the injured were removed to Cuttack by the people and others to Jajpur by the police. It is astonishing to note that all those who were removed by the police to Jajpur were later declared as dead and had had their hands chopped off. This barbaric act has been justified on the grounds of identification by the police, while there is absolutely no medical justification to chop off the entire hands. Only the skin of the thumbs or at worst all the digits are taken and preserved for identification. This barbaric act speaks volumes about the Naveen Patnaik Governments commitment to serve the MNCs, World Bank and their Indian Compradors.