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January 15, 2006
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January 15, 2006

Page: 4/35

Home > 2006 Issues > January 15, 2006

Tribal rights trampled in the name of industrialisation

From Sanjaya Jena in Bhubaneswar & Debasis Tripathy in Duburi

Twelve tribals and one policeman died as angry triabls clashed with police in the Kalinga Nagar industrial area in Duburi of Jajpur District of Orissa. Tribals were protesting against taking over of their land for steel plant for ?meager compensation?.

The government has declared an inquiry by a sitting Judge of Orissa High Court to probe the incident.

The incident took place when Jajpur district administration was helping in country?s largest steel producer Tata Steel Company?s construction of a boundary wall and levelling of ground in its proposed integrated steel complex in the industrial area.

Hundreds of tribals had gathered in and around the industrial area opposing construction of Tata?s boundary wall. Protesters had pelted stones targeting police.

?Though police fired tear gas cells to disperse the crowd, the irate tribal people wielded with bows and arrows and other traditional ammunition, attacked the police killing one constable in the process? said the state Director General of Police (DGP) Suchit Das.

The incident took place when Jajpur district administration was helping in country?s largest steel producer Tata Steel Company?s construction of a boundary wall and levelling of ground in its proposed integrated steel complex in the industrial area.

?As the mob went out of control, police opened fired?, District Superintendent of Police Binaytosh Mishra said.

More than 50 people have sustained injuries from both the sides. Condition of few protesters still continues to be critical. Dozens of injured persons have been put in the SCB Medical College at Cuttack.

The state government has announced an ex-gratia of one lakh rupees each for next of the kin of those killed. Government has also announced to take care of medical expenses of all the injured persons.

Senior police officials with heavy deployment of police force are monitoring the law and order situation. Though tense, the situation was well under control, senior police officials said. Though initially the curfew was imposed, it was lifted a day after the incident.

Seven opposition political parties have come together and extended their support to observe January 7 as ?protest day? called by ?Kalinga Nagar Surakhya Samiti?. The parties include Congress, Orissa Gana Parishad, CPI, CPI(M), JD(S), SP and JMM. Leaders of these parties have threatened to paralyse life in Orissa seeking resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Industry Minister Biswa Bhusan Harichandan visited the SCB Medical College at Cuttack, where the injured in police firing are lodged and reviewed their health condition.

Government needs to be more sensitive to tribal cause

A delegation of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (VKS) and Hindu Jagaran Samukhya (HJS) visited the spot of incident the day after the gory shooting took place.

Dr. S.C. Das, state president of BMS, Dr. Laxmikant Dash, general secretary of VKS and Ashok Sahu, president of HJS, rejected the view that suspected Maoist organisations were behind an aggressive attack of tribal people. It?s Biju Janata Dal (BJD) that had said that it?s Maoists who had instigated people to take to arms and raise a determined war against the police.

However, disputing Maoist involvement, leaders of the three organisations said tribal people in the adjacent areas were apprehensive of their future and livelihood once they were out from the land they have been living for generations.

?Put the entire indusatrialisation process to hold, come out with clear-cut relief and rehabilitation policy, provide compensation first and then only go ahead with industrialisation?, the leaders stressed. Protecting the interest of tribal people should come first before facilitating interest of investors, they said.

BJP blames district administration for the incident

A team of BJP leaders headed by former party MP Anadi Sahu, which visited the site, saw failure of district administration in the entire episode. BJP team called on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and handed over eight-point charters of demand, which termed the firing incident ?unfortunate?.

While welcoming the judicial probe into the incident, the BJP wanted a deadline to be fixed for the report to be submitted and wanted the state government to act tough on the erring persons.

The BJP team was consisted of party legislatures Sanchita Mohanty, Mohan Majhi, Brundaban Majhi, Rabi Narayan Naik, Sananda Marandi and Gourahari Naik. Apart from these legislatures, party MP Ananta Naik, organising secretary Panchanan Rout and Sudipta Ray were also part of the delegation.

The BJP team unanimously demanded transfer of both Collector Saswat Mishra and SP Binaytosh Mishra as they said: ?With both heading administration, it would be difficult to work with local people specially tribals.?

The BJP team also wants the government to re-look at the entire compensation package for people to be displaced owing to industrialisation. ?Compensation package is not adequate?, the BJP said. The BJP team wants increased compensation to be given to the affected people, much before their actual displacement. It also wants proper compensation to the tribal people settled in forest land, though they might not be the actual owners of the property.

The BJP also demanded an ex-gratia of five lakh each to the next of the kin who died in the police firing. Apart from taking care of medical expenses of people who are injured, BJP wants the government to pay wages to these people till they are fit to work and earn livelihood for their families. In the proposed Tata project, it wants one family member each from those killed and permanently disabled to be provided with employment.

BJP delegation accused district administration of not maintaining proper communication with the potentially project-affected people. ?Had the district administration taken proper precautions, the situation would not have come to such a phase?, Shri Sahu said.

Shri Sahu said, district administration, instead of being sensitive to the cause of tribal people, has become more loyal to Tata Company in acquiring the land and handing it over to it for early setting-up of its steel plant.

ABVP calls it brutal

ABVP state secretary Nirmal Sarangi, who visited the spot, called police action brutal. ?They killed because they wanted to kill?, Shri Sranghi said. There was no need to fire while people were dispersing after initial round of firing, the student leader said.

?Certainly it is wrong if people killed a policeman, but it is equally wrong that police targeted people and fired point-blank as one policeman was killed?, Shri Sarangi said demanding a strong action against erring district officials.

Naveen non-committal

While there is a demand from cross-section of people for transfer of district authorities, specially Collector and SP, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik however did not see anything good would come if officials are replaced. ?The need is to restore normalcy?, the Chief Minister said outrightly rejecting the transfer demand made from cross-section of society.

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