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It is not firing, It is cold-blooded massacre

 The people of Orissa never took seriously the words of the CM Navin Pattnaik and his cabinet colleagues when they said it in the floor of the Orissa Assembly that 'any one opposing rapid industrialization of Orissa will be dealt with, firmly'. They never took it seriously when Saswat Mishra notorious for his pro industry and anti-tribal repressive term as Collector of Kalahandi was transferred to the proposed industrial capital of Orissa- JAJPUR in the same position in the place of Surendra Kumar –known for his softness towards dalits and Adivasis. They never took it seriously when the station house officer of the new police station in Kalinga Nagar was transferred because he was hesitant to take firm action against the agitating tribals the way the present OIC of Tikri PS in Kashpur is doing in that place. They also did not take it seriously when most newspapers reported today that in his visit to Lord Jaganath CM Navin Pattnaik on the eve of the new year sought His blessings for rapid industrialization of Orissa. It is worth watching how these non-serious people of this dying state react when the same newspapers report tomorrow the cold-blooded massacre of at least 12 trbals while Nabin Pattnaik's heavily armed police decided not to allow agitating tribals of Kalingnagar of Saswat Mishra's Jajpur district to come in the way of a proposed TISCO steel plant.

In yet another instance of repression on behalf of Corporate Sector,at least Twelve tribals have been killed in Police firing near Duburi,Kalinganagar, Orissa, today (2/01/2006) morning. The TV broadcasts are telling that the Bhumi Pujan of the Boundary Wall of the proposed Tata Steel Plant was scheduled today and that the local tribals assembled and opposed the bhumi pujan. As per the police version, there was brick batting and arrows were used, following which the police opened fire, killing twelve tribals. One policeman is also stated to be killed. We have heard from local sources that at least 16 bodies killed in thefiring are lying at Dhangadi Hospital and that more people may have died. We have received the names of the following dead persons. Sudam Barla, Govind Laguni, Janga Jarika, Landu Jarika, Ati Jamuda, Mukuta Bankira, Dedghi Taria, Bhagat Sae and Ram Gagrai. #6 more tribals have been critically injured. It is clear that today morning was one of the most brutal episodes of state and corporate sponsored killing of tribal people struggling to claim their rights on land and forests.

Kalinganagar Complex is a massive industrial park with an area of over 12000 acres set up by IDCO in Jajpur District where industries are being allocated land. IDCOL has already acquired the land in the area through the Land acquisition act. The land acquisition by IDCO has only provisions of providing compensation for patta land and 10 decimal of land for homesteads for the landless. However, the local tribal people have been mostly cultivating non-patta land due to faulty survey and settlements and non-regularization of land. Even though they are absolutely dependent on these lands for their livelihoods, they are neither being offered compensation or land in return for the land cultivated for them. The tribals also allege that even people who were eligible for receiving compensation have not received it because of faulty procedures and delays. At the same time, the tribals say that they depend on their landscape i.e. the forests, the streams and the common land, and how will the government compensate for the loss of these resources. The threat of forced displacement without any alternative livelihoods and loss of ancestral lands have led to a strong resistance- as long back as in 1996, the local people has successfully stopped the establishment of a plant by Bhushan Steel at the same site. Another major protest was held on 15th May, 2005, where the tribals foiled the proposed Bhumi Poojan of Maharastra Seamless Steel limited. There is strong resentment against the proposed projects and the tribals have made it clear that they will not allow any Bhumi Puja unless all their demands are met. Sporadic protests and agitations have been continuing in the area. This had become a major impediment in the rapid establishment of industrial projects in the Kalinganagar Complex. To handle this problem, the State Government roped in the infamous Saswat (Sterlite) Mishra as the collector of the Jajpur District. He is the man who "facilitated" the construction of Vedanta aluminarefinery, breaking all conservation and tribal protection laws. Given his record, and the desire of the State Government to put the resistance to rest once for all, perhaps today's massacre was inevitable. Otherwise, knowing very well that the adivasis had taken a vow to oppose the Bhumi pujan at the cost of their lives, what prompted the State Government to deliberately and provocatively take up bhumi pujan in presence of armed police? The Government of Orissa made a deliberate choice, along with the TATA Steel, to take up today's program, knowing that the adibasis are going to oppose it with all their might. And now it is busy trying to paint the matter as an attack by adibasis on police. It is not yet clear what really happenedat the site of the massacre, with police and adibasies giving totally different versions. What is clear is that al least 12 persons, men and women, are lying dead and cold after today. ______________________________ _________________________________________ Comment:
Todays' massacre is yet another bloody link in the chain used to oppress adibasis of Orissa since the colonial rule. During the Independence movement, adibasis of Orissa paid the maximum price in blood fighting against the British. The Brahmin-Karan-Khadayat dominated government bequeathed post independence, not only grabbed most of the land and forests of the tribal communities, including the communal shifting cultivation land, but also used their land and forests for setting up massive hydel and industrial projects. Tribals displaced by projects taken up in even in 1950s and 60s haven't been rehabilitated till date. Protests were stifled using force and the simplicity of tribal communities have been used to oppress them under the iron boots of police, forest guards and local non-tribal elites. Thus no less than 73% of adibasis live below poverty line, and more than half are effectively landless, even though there is plenty of land under the zemindaries of revenue and forest department. Liberalization opened the floodgates for extractive industrialization of the tribal areas of Orissa, rich in minerals, water and forests, by the corporates, both Indian and Multinational. Violating all laws and norms, in cooperation with a ruthless and corrupt ruling elite, these corporates have become busy in stripping the state of its wealth, andin the process destroying the land, forests, water and survival of the tribals. So there was Maikanch in Kashipur, Vedanta in Lanjigarh and now the Tatas in Kalinganagar. It is apt that TATA Steel was involved in todays massacre, for was it not that TATAs who exploited the first iron ore mines of Orissa, and whose coffers have been filled at the expense of the people of Orissa. The tragedy of the tribal people of Orissa is visible in their poverty, their helplessness before local establishment and non-tribals, their physical and cultural displacement and their lack of rights over their livelihood resources. Kalinganagar is a grim forecast of the situation to come, as more and more tribals will be displaced and their life support systems destroyed by the flood of industrial and mining projects in Orissa.

It is more than clear that the government is deriving its strength not only from the money power of the corporate sector, it is also relying heavily on the opposition political parties since they all have been beneficiaries of the same process of rapid industrialization of the state. The government does not bother about the consequences of police atrocities since there is non-to demand accountability. There will be demands on a routine manner-the ultimate being demand for a Judicial inquiry, though everybody here knows about the fate of the inquiry reports. As Despremi Jan Samukhya has demanded in its press release , there should be a complete full stop to the so called rapid industrialization of the state. The Lok Shakti Abhijan of Orissa has also rightly called it , ' a day time robbery of Orissa's natural resources for which the traditional custodians of such resources are being forced to pay a heavy price'.

A report by Nachiketa,Independent Media