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PUCL, March 2005

A fact finding report by Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Rayagada units of PUCL
Atrocity on the people of Kashipur

[ See also, Writ petition against officials responsible for the Maikanch firing Click ]

Background
On receiving information from the media, concerned individuals and organizations that there has been continuous suppression of voice and rights as well as torture on the local Tribals-Harijans of different villages under the Kashipur Block in Rayagada district of Orissa, by the local police/administration in collusion with some vested interests like politicians, antisocial elements and officials of Utkal Alumina International Limited, a decision was taken by the People's Union For Civil Liberty (PUCL), Cuttack unit on 16.0105 to go for a fact finding mission along with the members of PUCL Unit of Bhubaneswar and Rayagada to find out the truth behind such allegations.

Accordingly, a team comprising the following members visited the Kashipur area on 26th and 27th January 2005 and interacted with cross sections of the people, local police as well as authorities of Utkal Alumina International Ltd. and gathered first hand information as follows. It may be mentioned
here that the tribals and other local people of Kashipur block have been agitating against the proposed establishment of an alumina project there by M/s Utkal Alumina International, fearing massive displacement and loss of their livelihood.

The team had given prior information to the Raygada district administration about their proposed visit.

Composition of team members

1. Prasanta Kumar Jena, Secretary PUCL Unit, Cuttack & Advocate Orissa High Court.
2. Sanjeeb Chakravarty, Member PUCL Unit, Cuttack & Advocate
Orissa High Court.
3. Niranjan Panigrahi, Member PUCL Unit, Cuttack & Advocate
Orissa High Court.
4. Niranjan Panda, Member PUCL Unit Bhubaneswar & Advocate
Orissa High Court.
5. Rabindra Nath Pattnaik, Convenor-Member, PUCL Unit,
Rayagada.

Version of the villagers of Kucheipadar and some other villages
On reaching Kucheipadar, the team came to know that this is the village which has been putting a formidable resistance from the beginning against establishment of the Alumina Industry in the area.

We called the villagers at one place, disclosed our identity and wanted
to know the reasons for their resistance, the consequences of it and the alleged atrocities on them. For this purpose the team adopted the method of asking the men, women, children the same questions to cross check their version on the issue at different places. They said Krushna Saunta of their village had played a pioneering role initially in motivating the people against the Company but now he has become the agent of the company and sabotaging peoples movement there. The company people have become successful in trapping Krushna, but since Krushna had no influence now, they did not care him.

It is pertinent to mention here that it was the Republic Day on 26th January 2005, when we reached Kucheipadar village, and we were little surprised to see that a black flag was hoisted in the village and as to the reasons thereof, on behalf of about 100 - 150 villagers who gathered there Bhagban Majhi explained that they do not feel themselves to have achieved independence in anyway. Repeated attempts have been made by the Company and Govt. to deprive them of their right to livelihood and peaceful living condition by acquisition of their land and establishment of the industry on their land which will not only create environment pollution but will result in the stoppage/drying up of the perennial source of water streams. People gathered around the team and raised questions as to how they are independent when they are not able to freely go to the local market or any other place, out of fear of assault, arrest and implication in false cases by the police.

They said whosoever opposes the establishment of industry has to definitely bear the consequences once he is known as an anti-Industry activist. The people gave many instances (mentioned subsequently) when they have been assaulted, picked up, threatened and booked under the sections of penal law meant for grievous offences of serious consequences. When right to speech and expression as well as right to free movement has been denied to them by the police/administration, they are unable to understand how they are independent. As they are not able to go out of their village, out of fear of Tikiri PS, their source of earning from the land and
market is highly affected. They said that for last three years they
have been hoisting the black flag on the occasion of Republic Day as a
mark of protest against the UAIL and Govt.

Tulsi Naik of Tikirapara village present there narrated her experience by saying that she used to sell dry fish, soap in different villages as well as in the local market -Tikiri. A few days back when she was in her way to the Tikiri market, two youths near Doraguda obstructed her and threatened to assault her saying that there would be lathi charge, firing and assault on her as she is participating in the 'Andolan' against the industry. Superisingly, though the officer-in-charge of Tikiri PS was also there with those youths, did not protect Tulsi or protest against such action of those culprits. The villagers say that the Tikiri PS (OIC) has been acting as an agent of the Company. Tulsi further said that now she has stopped going to the Dangasil Sunday market for her business out of the fear of being assaulted and arrested. The villagers in Kucheipadar expressed their sufferings by saying that after the incident of 1st December 2004 (detailed below) they have!
stopped going to the local market as police is after them to randomly
arrest.

Bhagaban Majhi of Kucheipadar narrated the incidents of police atrocities which was also corroborated by other villagers present during visit of the team. According to them on 7 September 2004, the Collector, Rayagada came to the Utkal Alumina plant site to lay the foundation of a new police outpost near D. Karol village. The nearby villagers, when came to know of the establishment of an police outpost, apprehending further increase in police atrocity they decided to protest against the same. Accordingly, there was spontaneous response/reaction from the nearby villagers of Kucheipadar, D. Korol, Bagirijhola, Bariaguda, Turli, Nuapada, Anger, Tikiripada and villagers numbering about one thousand congregated near the proposed site of police outpost on 07.09.04 and requested the Collector not to go ahead with the proposed police outpost as the villagers are peace loving and there are no records of violence, rape or commission of other crimes which would justify the establishment of another police outpost in the area. Rather, the establishment of another police out post would increase the tension in the area instead of pacifying it.

The Collector expressed his inability to help the people as, according to him, the decision was taken at a higher level in the government. People also expressed their displeasure about establishment of a new outpost which according to them is otherwise illegal as the same is set up without approval of the Gram Sabha.

On 8th September 2004 Sanjukta Saant, the sarpanch of Kucheipadar gave in writing to the Collector, Rayagada expressing/ventilating the grievance of the local people against establishment of the proposed police outpost in their area. According to him since there is no law and order problem there is no need for establishing a police outpost there.

After 07.09.04 police forces were deployed in the village D. Korol. On 1st December 2004, the SP, Rayagada came with CRP forces to D. Korol. On that date about 1000 people from different villages such as Dimundi, Korol, Nuagada, Kucheipadar and others gathered near the plant site for a "Rasta Roko Programme" in protest against the establishment of police outpost. A meeting was held there at about 3 P.M. Eight platoon of police force, leaving their vehicles at Nuapada came to the meeting place with arms and surrounded the place.

In the meeting Sabita, Bhagaban Majhi, Haladhara Naik, Bhaskar Naik and others explained their grievances and plan for nonviolent protest against the establishment of police outpost and they wanted to discuss the matter with the authorities present there. To their surprise the Magistrate present there asked the villagers in the hand mike to go back to their villages and vacate
the road and just after the Magistrate made the announcement, the Officer-in-Charge, Tikiri Police Station became violent and shouted loudly "You nonsense tribals go away or will face the consequence".

Jalita Majhi, a girl of about 18 years narrated her experience that "OIC
Tikiri PS shouted in loud voice at the young women asking them to leave
the place or else they would be raped". He further told the women folk
"when you are in the habit of sleeping with your father and brother,
what is wrong if you are raped by us". Some of the forces also started
abusing the women folk in filthy language threatening them to rape. On
hearing this and apprehending/sensing some danger the older women came to the front pushing the young ones to the back and some of the women
became naked challenging the police force and OIC Tikiri to commit rape.
They thought that probably the police force would go back leaving them
peacefully to end the meeting which was almost going to be closed in the
late hours of the afternoon.

Ambai Majhi, an old woman of Kucheipadar, narrated her experience on the same date by saying that there was not previous plan to be naked but same was an outcome of spontaneous reaction from the older woman when they were abused and threatened to be raped by the police force present there. The team members wanted to know about any such previous plan to be naked before the police to which women gathered there denied but it was admitted by Ambai that she had heard about the Manipuri women's way of protest which was told to them in one meeting. After some of the old women became naked for a while, the police force present there started pelting stones to the gathering followed by tear gas cell firing and lathi charge.

When there was brutal attack from the police the gathering started dispersing but still there were agitators who without leaving the place seated there peacefully and challenged the police force by saying that they might be killed but they would not leave their land and their cottages at any cost. Kanchan Majhi of Kucheipadar and Shrimandi Sari of the same village told that although a few lady police constables were present at the spot and some of them caught hold of a few woman agitators but by and large it is the gents police force who assaulted the ladies who were about 300 in numbers. Shimandi herself was assaulted by gent force.

It is admitted by them that while some protesters/agitators were dispersing after the lathi charge and tear gas cell firing, some of them returned the dead tear gas cell towards the police force. In the assault of the police force by lathi. Kanchan Majhi, Adei Majhi, Bangari Majhi, Tulasi Majhi, Kesari Majhi, Puspa, Srimay Majhi, Naika Majhi (all ladies) were injured. Similarly about 20-25 male persons were arrested and injured among whom Pabitra Nayak (Dimundi), Uma Majhi, Kucheipadar, Saroj Nayak (Iudoka Bahal), Adei Majhi, Bangari Majhi and Mukuna Dhisari were there. Subsequently, Adei Majhi was released on bail but others numbering around 18 are still in
side jail. As per the information available with the team cases under
Sec 450, 395, 397,147, 294, 427, 436.506 and 149 of CRPC with punishment of even life imprisonment have been registered against these people accusing them of trespassing into houses, committing dacoity, robbery, setting in fire, criminal intimidation etc.

Their bail applications have been rejected in the lower courts and are now pending in the High Court. It is alleged by the villagers that though the above persons were injured by police assault, they were not given any medical treatment and sent to custody. Even the police forces did not spare a old man of 80 years namely Kamala Nayak of Korol. His co-villagers were also severely assaulted. In the same evening, hearing the police assault many people gathered in Koral Mokja near Padai Medical and the decision was taken by the people to help the injured, take steps to release the person in
custody and to take further decision in the next meeting to be held on 07.12.04. Before the meeting on 07.12.04 the police force were moving/patrolling in different village and threatening people against
attending the meeting of 07.12.04. Police prevented people at main entry
points at Dasmantpur, Maikanch and Tikiri but in spite of that about
500 people gathered at Kucheipadar Korunatoa and decided for "Jail Bharo
Andolon".

Even just before the meeting on 07.12.04 police illegally prevented the people from going to the place of meeting and forcibly snatched the motor cycle of one Bhaskar Naik of D. Karol and a number of bicycles, which are yet to be released. The people stated that after the incident of 1st December there was a reign of terror in all the villages and police atrocity continued for about a month and within this period the people had tough time as they were prevented by such reign of terror from moving freely to their agriculture fields, place of work and market places. On 05.12.04 Duryo Dora of Tikiripada was arrested in Dangasil market where two platoon police forces entered and randomly searched for the alleged agitators. Similarly, Lokanath Nayak and Navin Nayak of village Khurigaon who are the office bearers of "Sasubohumali Surakshya Samiti" were picked up by the police from their houses and were arrested. Another young boy namely Jagannath Sahu, aged about 18 years, was picked up by the police near Tikiri bus stand while going to fill up his BSE (matriculation) form on the way from his village, was assaulted and sent to jail custody. Similarly, Bhubani Gouda of
Lachhiguda was arrested when coming on his bicycle and the bicycle along with his household article was forcibly taken away by the police.

After the meeting on 07.12.04 Central Reserve Police Forces marched in the villages of Bagrijhola, Haridaspur and Taladeska which added to the panic of the people. According to the villagers the police march was made to create an atmosphere of terror and restrict the movement of the people who protest against the establishment of Alumina Industry as well as the additional police outpost. Nath Jhodia of Bagrijhola shared his experience by telling that on 08.12.04 about two platoons of police force came to their village and asked him why he was participating in the agitation and they marched through Nuapada, Dimundi, Bagrijhola villages.

The people alleged that the police has been forcing the people to give in writing/ undertaking that they will not go to the agitation programmes and not to oppose the company. Such campaign of the police has been made in Tikirapada, Lachiguda, Hadiguda, Dimundi, Vitalka and Muskai villages.

During their campaign of massive and indiscriminate arrest, police arrested Bulka Maniaka of Barigaon. Bulka is one of the leading person of Basundhara Suraksya Samiti, Barigaon, Pipalpadar under Laxmipur Panchayat. There is allegation that Bulka was severely assaulted by the police after arrest.

On 15.12.04 about four platoons of police force were deployed in nearby villages around the Plant site. On the same night police went inside the villages and continued to threat the people to face the consequence in the event they came out and attend the next day's gathering for observing 'Saheed Divas' (An occasion of remembering the three persons Abhilash Jhodia, Damodar Jhodia & Raghunath Jhodia who were killed in police firing at Maikanch on 16.12.200 in course of the agitation against the establishment of Alumina Company). On 16.12.04, police forces blocked the main entry points of Maikanch, Dasmantpur and Tikiri and prevented people from going to the meeting spot to observe Saheed Divas. In spite of such prevention a large number of people around 3000 people reportedly attended the meeting held at Bagrijhola, but for the reasons best known to police was not there in Bagrijhola on that occasion. In that meeting many volunteers and social activist from outside the area had attended. Among those who were present Dr. Biswajit Ray and Indu from Sarvodaya Mandal, Trinath Sabar and Tripati Gomanga (CP1-ML) ,Bhala Sarangi and Budha Gamanga from Lok Sargran Manch and Hara Bania of Samajwadi Jana Parishad shared the feeling of the local people in the said meeting. The meeting was totally not biased or influenced by any political party and the concerned expressed about the danger of life and livelihood of thousands of poor tribals for the proposed Alumina Industry.

In the meeting the people demanded

  1. Retention of the land and house of tribals and
  2. Provision for supply of water to the agriculture field
    through construction of small water reservoirs to improve the economy of the people since enough water is available in the area.

The hunt for assault and arrest continued and in the process Uma Shankar Majhi, Trinath Majhi, Santi Majhi and Sarbeswar Majhi were also arrested.

On 18.12.04 police arrested one Babu of Kucheipadar at the Tikiri Hospital where he was attending his injured pregnant sister.The only allegation against Babu was that he bad participated in the December 16th rally.

On 20.12.04, the police is stated to have arrested Trinath, Uma Shankar and Shanti Majhi and detained Samrai, Sarbeswar Nabin and threatened to fire on them below the knee. They were released after 24 hours only when they gave assurance out of fear that they will not participate in the anti-Industry campaign. It is alleged that the police threatened Hemalata Majhi to surrender herself and her son before the police and declare that in future they will not participate in the agitation against the company, or else her husband (who is working as a teacher in Kocha Muhin in Rayagada Block) will be arrested and punished and ultimately lose his service. She stated that in 1999 her husband was arrested, put under custody for 15 days and was suspended from service for protesting against establishment of the Alumina industry. On 15.01.04 about 40 policemen went to village Siriguda and threatened the villagers to go and surrender (surrender in this context means that villagers would give in writing that they will not agitate against the company) voluntarily or else they will face the consequence. Police also
went to the house of Gada Jhodia of Dimundi and cautioned him not to
attend the meeting of anti-industry group.

Version of family members of sitting MLA Sri Anantram Majhi

Rajmani Raj Kumari Majhi (about 50 years) is the wife (first wife) of the sitting MLA Anantram Majhi from Laxmipur constituency (from Congress Party). She expressed her dissent opinion with her husband on the issue and stated that they do not want the company at the cost of their land. Her daughter Kanaklata Majhi also does not want the industry as according to her the tribals have no other source of livelihood except their land and forest. She said that by nature the tribals are simple and their life style is different from others and industry would not only change their culture but also take the source of livelihood from the tribals. She said that she does not agree with her father who favours the establishment of industry and she has expressed her opinion but same is not cared for. She narrated her horrible experience of 1st December 2004 meeting where she was chased by the drunken police force, but she could manage to reach her village anyhow and was injured in the lathi charge.

On 24.01.05 when Gopinath Majhi and Punia Majhi of Bhariguda village were going near Pankapadar Chhak, where construction work of the road of the UAIL was going on, the SI/other police person of Dangasil outpost came out and warned that whosoever comes to stop or protest against such construction of work of the company shall be arrested and booked under law. In this construction work people from Tikirpada, Gulmijhola and Kintapadar, Dongasil (about 100 in number) were engaged and the contractor told Gopinath and Punia that if local labourers/people will not cooperate, then he will bring the labourers from outside. It is the impression of the villagers of Kucheipadar and some of other villages that the OIC of Tikiri PS is acting as a henchman of Utkal Alumina Industries Ltd.

Regarding reported popular support for the establishment of alumina
project the villagers of Kucheipadar and other villages reported that it is a fact that around more than 5000 people attended the pro-industry rally organised by the major political parties recently in November 04, but all these people were the supporters of the political parties carried from out side the area by arranging vehicles and good food for them. Only a handful party supporters were there from the locality. Besides, the RDC, Berhampur, even though has not visited Kashipur even once nor has met the local people, surprisingly has given a statement that local
people favour establishment of industry in Kashipur.

Version of the villagers of Ramibeda
The team went to village Ramibeda in the afternoon of 26.01.05. As per the version of Padmanav Majhi of the village there are 30 household in the village comprising of about 120-130 people. Agriculture is the only source of livelihood of the people. They cultivate rice, mandia, suan, biri as single crop. In the high level fields babul, bajra, kandul are also cultivated and most of the villagers used to cultivate as share croppers.

According to Padmanava, people of this village do not cooperate with the Anti-Company campaign and they admitted that a portion (land) of the village has been acquired by the company. We met another person namely Naba Majhi who was reluctant to express any opinion whether there should be industry or not. But we were informed that one Pabitra Sethi of the that village was put in jail for protesting against the company, but later on, released and people are tightlipped in the matter.

The team tried to talk with the other villagers present there, but all of them avoided to speak anything about the controversy.

Version of villagers of Dimundi
The team reached Dimundi in the evening of 26th January 2005. Most of the villagers were present in the village and gathered around the team.

According to them the village comprises of about 45 household of around 150 people who totally depend upon agriculture and on this agricultural income they somehow manage to live on for the whole year. The village is surrounded by agricultural field having water facilities and in some fields they use to cultivate double crop. Kumipadar Naik, a villager of Dimundi expressed that people do not want industry over their land and house, but if the assurance and guarantee of providing job to each member of the family is given with adequate compensation then they will not object to establishment of the industry there. This version of Kumipadar was supported by Chitrasena Naik, Madhav Jhodia & others. They all said "as we are illiterate we have to accept whatever the company says or else our land will be acquired and we will not be paid anything if we do not support the establishment of the industry". The villagers further said one Dambaru Ghasi has become a 'goonda' of Tikiri and he is one of the main campaigner on behalf of the UAIL to pressurise the villagers to accept money and give up their lands.

A lady named Khudomani Naik expressed that she was badly assaulted by the police in lathi on the 1st December 2004 rally. She firmly told that they do not want to give up their land at any cost. Another lady present there expressed that even if her husband and others leave their land she will protest against it and if her house is acquired, she will rather commit suicide. Regarding the role of police the villagers said that the police tells them not to support the agitators (anti-Industry people).

Although police has made no ill treatment inside their village, they are
still afraid of the police and find no courage to face them or express their real opinion before them. They say that they are very much afraid of their arrest and confinement inside custody in false cases where the possibilities of getting out in bail is remote and the whole process requires a lot of expenditure. After the December 1st agitation they are so afraid of the police that whenever they get information of police coming to their village, the male members of the village used to run and hide themselves in the nearby hills and women remain inside their houses closing the doors. Even the persons volunteering to bring the arrestees from the police station are also arrested and implicated in false cases.

To give instances of police repression they said that on 17.01.05 when a young lady named Nirmala Jhodia of D. Koral was taking her bath in the nearby stream, three police men putting on underwears only gradually proceeded towards her, for which she ran screaming towards her village. At the relevant time Ratha Jhodia and Tankadhar Jhodia of Dimundi who were working in that place during that time as daily labourers protested such act but they were severely beaten by the police and they could manage to escape from the spot by jumping the wire fences with high risks. The matter was informed to the officer-in-charge of Tikiri police but they have no knowledge what happened thereafter.

Both Ratha Jhodia and Tankadhar Jhodia were present during the meeting and supported the version.

Janu Jhodia & others told that Dambru Ghasi and one Samal Babu used to visit their village on behalf of the UAIL to persuade the villagers to accept compensation or else it will be forfeited. Dambru is a muscle man from Tikiri and he at times threatens the poor innocent villagers. They used to say that the land you (villagers) are possessing are not of yours but belongs to the Government, so take money or else it will be forfeited. They alleged that Tikiri police warns them not to go to other villages and not to mix with the agitators.

The villagers said that today (26.01.05) the ward member, Bhubani Jhodia has been taken by Shantisila (a men from Dimundi) to somewhere saying that Krushna Mohapatra (an influential man encroaching huge lands and a Pro Industry man) wanted to meet Bhubani. The villagers were very much apprehensive of the incident.

Version of villagers of Kendukhunti
About 45 families live in this village totally depending upon mixed crop in their field. Barring 4-5 families others are having their own agriculture land. In summer some people of the village use to go outside for their engagement as labourer for a month or two. If a little facility of water will be provided to their field, they will not prefer to go outside in summer also. In the past villagers like Abhiram Naik, Niranjan Naik, Ugrasen, Daya Naik, Lalu Naik had protested against the establishment of the company and in Ungra, Daya and Lalu were arrested and they had to spend a lot of money to come out of the custody.

People of the village admitted that about ten years before they have
received some money in the first installment from the company and in the
second installment they are demanding Rs. 2 lakh per acre. Duryodhan
Naik stated that he has received. Rs. 19,000/- in the first installment and Rs. 1,85,732/- in second installment for Ac. 2.36 decimal of la nd acquired for the purpose of establishment of the company. He stated that towards the house and the homestead land, he has received Rs. 60,000/- but according to him the amount is not satisfactory and more amount should have been paid. People stated that initially Rs. 32,600/- as compensation was fixed per acre but it is much less an amount for which there is demand to pay Rs. 2 lakh per acre of land but neither Government nor company is taking care of their grievance. People of Kendukhunti stated that there is no atrocity or oppression by the police in the village, but the broker and some officials of the Company are persuading them to immediately receive the determined compensation or else it will lapse. The team members also saw the people holding cheques received from the company.

The villagers stated that anti-industry group does not give any threat to them, but in one incident in past the 'Sangrami's (people agitating against the establishment of the Company) had come in a group and partially damaged a few houses and cut down paddy forcibly from some of their agriculture field.

When the team members wanted to know about their preference between their agricultural field and industry, all of them agreed to retain their land and household rather than giving the same even at a good price to the company. They say when establishment of industry does not depend upon their opinion, they have to accept such establishment and bargain is the only way at the moment. Villagers Laloo Naik, Ugrasen Naik, Patra Naik, Balmuda Naik, Dhana Naik, Khurla Naik even expressed their opinion that they are also prepared now to return the money and retain their land, if company decides to go back and asks them to return the amount paid to them.

Interestingly the women folk of Kendukhunti are totally against relinquishing their land and household in favour of the industry. They say if today Company takes a decision to withdraw, they are ever ready to return the amount they received from the company. An old women voluntarily came out saying that her husband and son are in favour of alienating their land to the Company, but in reality if their land and house will be taken, she will commit suicide. Rajamani Naik is another lady who expressed her disapproval of alienating land at any cost in favour of the company.

Village - D - Korol (Upper Sahi)
This village comprises of 250 houses. According to the villagers about 750 acres of their land are proposed to be acquired for the purpose of the industry. In the 1st phase of payment in the year 1996 Rs. 21,000/- per acre (lowest category) was paid to the villagers whose lands are required to be acquired by the company for its industry. People said for Bahalapanki (do phasali) the amount was fixed at Rs. 72,000/- and for the lands under bana and banakhari Rs. 52,000/- was fixed for compensation. People said that in the 2nd phase a few days ago they received compensation for their lands although till date they are in possession and cultivating the same. People of D. Korol strongly demand for some benefit as are given to the displaced persons by the Government under the rehabilitation package. People said their struggle against the establishment of company has suffered a set back as police entangled the leaders in a number of false cases and searching for them to arrest and send to custody. Bhaskar Naik said that while he was returning in his motor cycle it was snathched away by the police on the
false allegation that he was in the rally on 01.12.04 and till date the
same could not be recovered from the police custody, as he apprehends
arrest once he goes to Tikiri Police Station.

Narsi Murty and Salman Chhatri alleged that their cycles have been seized by the police on the allegation of their participation in the rally organised against the company a few days back. The villagers said when the local people repeatedly protested against the industry and demanded its withdrawal the Collector, Rayagada had suggested to form a 14 members committee to discuss their problem but practically no initiative was taken on behalf of the administration for any such discussion. They complained that the OIC, Tikiri Police Station is using his power much beyond the law and they are of the impression that to suppress the voice of people he has been given some special power. They say that OIC has continuously given the
message that whosoever he may be if he goes out of own village and join
in any anti-industry campaign he shall be dealt with strongly.

Although many villagers advanced serious allegations against the behaviour and acts of OIC of Tikiri police station and the reserve police forces,
those villagers did not disclosed their identity with the fear that if it will be reported/published, they will be implicated in false cases. The people said that the police is hand in glove with the company, use to visit every village in plain clothes in regular intervals to take note of the activities of anti-industry people. They further alleged that in Dimundi people have been induced to accept compensation by giving liquor to them.

Village D. Korol Tala Sahi
This is the village which is going to be completely acquired (both the houses and agriculture land) by the UAIL. This village comprises of 90 families with a population of about 500. About 85 acres of land is going to be acquired by the company. The villagers said that in 1996 they got compensation of Rs. 21,300 per acre which according to them is too meager for them. They said that they have no objection now if the industry is established there but the company needs to execute agreement with each major individuals of the village ensuring jobs for them and their heirs. They admitted that Rs. 10,000/- in average per household has been paid to them as damage/compensation. But they are not at all happy with the current package of rehabilitation/compensation measure of the company. They said that the company is not agreeing to execute individual agreement regarding their demand as aforesaid and they do not know what to do if the company refuses to such a demand. They say that even though they had some grievance against the company they are afraid of the police who may take action against them. People of this village said that they have accepted the compensation from the company conditionally. Even though they protest, no one is listening to them. Some of the villagers said that the
agricultural land of the villagers are being acquired by the company leaving
aside their houses in the village. For this reason they are being paid the
compensation at a much lower rate unlike those whose houses and lands
are totally acquired by the company.

About the role of police, even though at one end of the vilage some of the villagers stated that there is no arrest or atrocity by the police in the village, in course of the discussion, the villagers at other points of the village said that police is collecting the name of the persons giving speeches in the anti-industry meetings and attending the meetings, followed by FIR, institution of number of false cases. People are so afraid of the cases that those who narrated the grievance did not want to disclose their names. The villagers said that they have been terrorised at gun point by the police.

The villagers narrated the incident (happened a few days back) of Nirmala who while taking her bath in the nearby stream saw three reserve police personnel with under wears only approaching towards her and she ran towards the village screaming in fear. When the matter spread, the villagers strongly protested saying "you took our forest, land and livelihood, now you are out to take our women also !" but they were threatened of arrest and implication in cases. The team tried to meet the victim, Nirmala but the parents and other villagers didn't agree to it saying that they didn't know the exact identity of the team and what for they were collecting this information and why should an unmarried girl talk to them on such a matter; it would be too embarrassing for her. Besides, they were also afraid that the police may be further vindictive towards the girl if they come to know of it. One Moharana (first name not known) of the reserve police deployed there even openly declared to rape women by forcing into each house of the village.

The villagers said that the reserve police forces are creating all types of
nuisance upon consuming liquor. Villagers said that some people are paid compensation in a drunken state and the Company people are instrumental in making them drunk . Overall people said that they do not have any democratic rights and they do not have the courage to express their opinion freely out of the fear of police.

Versions of the villagers of Bagrijhola
There are about 150 families in this village with a population of around 800-900. Already 67 acres of agricultural land has been acquired in this village for the purpose of industry. Villagers stated that although notices were issued to them to accept compensation for acquisition of their agriculture land but they had not responded, but the company people continued to persuade them by saying that unless they accept money (towards compensation), it will be deposited in the court. Even the Company carried some of the people in drunken state by vehicles to Rayagada and in presence of the police paid them the compensation. One such person is Natha Jani. People stated that their acceptance of compensation is purely conditional. They stated that one Satyban Samal of the Company initially approached the villagers a few years back giving an impression that they want to help the villagers in doing fish culture and for that incentive will be given; but as people did not agree, he tried to persuade them for duck rearing units (Bataka Palana Kendra).

As the villagers did not agree to any of his proposal for want of money, he assured the people to provide money. When the villagers wanted to know on whose behalf he is coming, he did not disclose his identity or the name of the Company. In the subsequent stage when Samal Babu with the help of few local people came to survey, the people in the village again asked him the purpose of survey and from him came to know that a industry was going to be established on their land. When those company people started checking the flow of water from the hill, people protested apprehending losing the land, water and house and what not? Even notices for compensation used to be given to the people without prior consultation and without the knowledge of the people for what reason compensation are going to be paid. Regarding the police activities in the area the people narrated that on 06.12.04 about 80-90 policemen marched in the village to terrorise the people of the consequence of attending! the next day's (7.12.2004) meeting of agitators.

On 12.12.04 when Chitrasen Bag, a villager had been to Rayagada for his personal work, police arrested him by getting information from the Company agents. Chitrasen Bag is a retired army personnel and in his name police has lodged case U/s 147/148/341/623/506/114/149 IPC in GR Case No. 115/04. Jaganath Sahu, a young boy was arrested on 12.12.04 and it is alleged that both Chitrasen and Jagannath were ill treated inside police custody. On 14.12.04 there was again police march past in the village road as a mark of caution to those who are supposed to attend the meeting to be held on the 16.12.04. Villagers firmly stated that when three of them have already laid their life for their cause (killed in police firing on 16.12.04 in Maikanch Chhak) they will not allow the industry to take possession of their land.

They admitted that out of fear of police atrocities, they are not able to raise their voices against the industry . They said there has been cases lodged against Natha Jani, Shankar Muduli, Turungi Muduli (women), Narendra Jhodia. The above named women said weeping 'where shall we go if the company ousted us". Nath Jani said he is not able to go outside out of fear of arrest by the police. The people said out of such fear of arrest the male members are not going outside the village and only those persons who go and surrenders before the police giving undertaking that he will not agitate against establishment of company are allowed to move freely. They allege that being tutored by police, number of complaints have been lodged against them by company henchmen like Ananda Naik of Tala D. Korol. Even the ladies said that as they had joined the last agitation, police is targeting them for which out of the fear of arrest they also do not move outside their village. Kabir Naik and Turungi Muduli expressed that the villagers are afraid of arrest mainly for assault by police after arrest, false cases instituted against them for which getting out of bail is remote and a lot of money is required to fight for the case.

Villagers said that they are able to cultivate double crop in a year as there is already a small water reservoir/dam there to which the water flow perennially from the hills. Since, the agriculture is some how good in the area and opportunities for work is available, villagers do not choose to go outside for engagement. There are also people in the villages who work as share-croppers, but overall the village is self-sufficient. At present the villagers are paying the rent for the lands already recorded in their favour, but no rent receipt is given in respect of the lands for which compensation has already been paid to them.

Mainly people expressed that if water facility and other incentives for agriculture are provided to them adequately their economic condition is sure to improve very fast.

Version of the officials of UAIL
The team visited the temporary plant site of Utkal Alumina International Ltd. On expressing our intention to Deputy General Manager (Project) Sri Ardhendu Sekhar Mohapatra readily expressed his willingness to clarify the points as raised by the team in the following anner. Besides this, he had his opinion on the establishment of the industry and the ongoing agitation. It may be noted that a new police outpost has been set up inside the plant site premises.

Sri Mohapatra stated that about 10-12 years back the project of establishing an Alumina Industry and refinery in the area started and it was then a joint venture of Alkan-Indal companies, but now the share of Indal has been purchased by Aditya Birla Group. He stated that till date 2500 Acres of land in the area has been acquired by the company. He admitted that one village namely Ramibeda is going to be completely displaced under the project and other two villages namely D. Korol (Tala Sahi) and Kendukhunti will be partly affected. In the process 24 villages will also be affected. He categorically stated that the village Kucheipadar from which strong resistance is received is not going to be affected in anyway.

He stated that the company as a matter of policy never want to acquire the land forcibly against the wishes of the people for which it has been decided to leave out the agriculture field of the village Kucheipadar within the project area. He emphatically stated that the company has been patiently waiting for all these years to convince the people and is ready to make any dialogue at anytime regarding the grievance of the people. When the team asked about the allegation that the people were given liquor and carried in company vehicle and paid some money without their full knowledge of their land being acquired, Mr. Mohapatra told that these are baseless allegations and if the same is proved, he will relinquish his job in the company. He
stated that he being an Oriya has been purposefully deputed to the plant
site to deal with the situation and convince the people.

Regarding the demand of the people of D. Karol for execution of agreement with each individual regarding rehabilitation/compensation measures for acquisition of land, he said already the package of compensation has been declared by the Company after due deliberation with the Govt. and there is no necessity now for executing individual agreement at this stage but i!
f such proposal is given to the company, it may be considered. Accord
ing to Mr. Mohapatra initially company has determined Rs. 21,300/- as
compensation for one acre of land of lowest category (Atta) but it has
been increased to minimum of Rs, 1,00,000/- per acre. He insisted that
this is the only Company which assures a job to each male member of a
family above 18 years of age in the displaced villages. The company has
already provided employment opportunity for 1000 people at a daily wage
of Rs. 60/- per day .

He stated that after the firing and killing of three villagers on 16.12.00 in Maikanch, the company had stopped its work but since last two years it has again started moving ahead with the project.

Mr. Mohapatra explained that since the nearby hills are barren there is no question of huge destruction of forest as propagated, on the other hand the company is taking steps for plantation to ensure better environment. When questioned about the future of the area/hills after bauxite is extracted, he explained that the mining activity will continue for generations. He said though initially the company has been given lease for a particular hill (Baphli Mali) which will take about 60-70 years, but gradually the company will venture into the other hills having bauxite deposits. Regarding allegation of the permanent stoppage of perennials streams, Mr. Mohapatra completely disagreed by saying that the process of Alumina extraction is very systematic and as soon as the earth is extracted from a particular area of the hills, the same area will be filled up with late rite stones which bears a better character of water percolation and the water deposit in the hills will be more than what it was before extraction. He gave the example of Damonjodi where, according to him it has been proved to be successful. Mr. Mohapatra stated that there was an open house meeting in January 2005 wherein the Sarpanches, ward members and other being present have expressed their opinion in favour of the company to the RDC.

Another meeting was convened by the Collector, Rayagada and the Revenue Officers have attempted to convince the villagers of Kuchiepadar but the villagers have misbehaved with those officers for which company has
taken decision not to touch the land either homestead or agriculture of the Kucheipadar. Sri Mohapatra said that he and the other employee, Satyaban Samal had been manhandled by the Sangrami's (agitators) in the year 1995. Mr. Mohapatra stated that till 2003, the company had made
it clear before the Govt. that in case the local people do not want, the
company will back out of the project. But since the gramsabhas have
approved in favour of the project, he thinks people really want the
establishment of industry there, but out of the fear created by a small
section of the people called Sangramis (agitators), some people are saying
against the company.

The company according to him is going to provide 480 Sq. foot of pucca building and 10 decimals of land to the would be completely displaced persons. When asked about the future of good number of illiterate tribals, who can not be engaged in a industry which is mainly based on sophisticated technologies requiring skilled personnel, Mr. Mohapatra could give no convincing answer but said that villagers would be engaged in the guest houses, greenery-plantations, stores, gardening and as drivers in vehicles etc. He said already 30 persons are given ITI Training from the area as the company sincerely wants to keep healthy relationship with the local people. Amidst discussion, Mr. Mohapatra called a person engaged their in the plant site (as daily labour) who told the team that he has been badly assaulted a few days back by the anti -industry people of Kucheipadar.

Version of officer in charge - Tikiri police station
On afternoon 27th the team had been to the Tikiri Police Station where they met the OIC, Kishore Chandra Mund. Mr. Mund disclosed that since he has received a message from the Sub-Collector Rayagada, he was aware of the visit of the team. He also disclosed that he had gathered the information about the teams place of night halt on 26.01.05 (at Kucheipadar) and further morning programme on 27.01.05. According to him his posting in Tikiri Police Station is about 3 years back and his impression is that local people sincerely want establishment of the Alumina industry, but outsiders are instrumental in organising the people against the industry. He stated that one Saroj Mohanty of Kuchhinda has been motivating the people and giving inciting speeches, the videotape of which is available with him.

Mr. Mund said that on 19.10.04 there was a rally of anti-industry people where about 1500-3000 persons were present. Subsequently on 18.11.04 there was a gathering of all party meeting in the area in favour of the company where people from BJD, BJP, Cong., BSP were there numbering about 15000. After the pro-industry rally tension became more intense in the area. Mr. Mund said on 14.09.04 two villages namely Ramibeda and Kendukhunti were ransacked by the Sangrami's (Pro industry Agitators). He said that 95% people in the area want industry and only 5% oppose it.

When asked as to why he is asking the people to surrender before him and is threatening to give an undertaking not to agitate, Mr. Mund denied the allegation by saying that police is there to maintain law and order situation and the allegation against him of asking the people to surrender is false. Mr. Mund said that there was agitation by the people against establishment of the police outpost near Karol village. As far as his knowledge goes since 1999 there has been Govt. sanction for establishment of an police outpost near village Karol, which is taking its shape presently. When asked why a decision was taken to place the outpost at the plant site, Mr. Mund said he cannot answer that and his higher authorities can give the answer. The OIC stated that on 01.12.04, in presence of the Sub Divisional Magistrate (Sub Collector) and police forces (including 17-18 lady police) the mob was controlled after which several cases were registered against the agitators and it is obvious that he will arrest the persons against whom there are
warrants.

Mr. Mund said he is also not taking that much interest to arrest any person whose arrest according to him will create law and order situation in the area. About the alleged forcible seizure of motor cycle of Bhaskar Naik the OIC told that if the owner of vehicle turns up he will take back his vehicle. When asked that the owner of the is afraid that whenever he comes to take back his motor cycle he may be arrested the OIC replied that obviously he would be arrested since there are cases against him.

Asked about the alleged misbehaviour of some reserve policemen to a girl of D. Karol village the OIC stated that just after the incident he went to the spot and came to know that the girl out of fear herself came back to the village on seeing the reserve force but actually there was no attempt of rape and the allegation is totally false. Regarding the involvement of outsiders, he named one Rabi Pradhan along with Saroj Mohanty who were instrumental in fomenting anti-Industry agitation. He requested the team members to ask those outsiders as to why they have come here leaving their own area.

In reply when the the team members asked him as to why Gandhiji far away from India began a movement in South Africa and the PUCL team from outside have come and visited the area and police station he didn't give any
answer. While denying the allegation that police is terrorising the innocent
villagers and working hand in glove with the company the OIC stated
that the villagers are freely moving in the Tikiri market area. The team wanted to meet the SP and Collector Rayagada in their residential office to discuss regarding the issue and waited there for more than two hours but since both of them were not available meeting with them could not be possible.

Findings of the team
1) i) There has been large scale police repression and atrocities on the people as reported by the people of each and every village, either opposed to or not-so-much-opposed to the establishment of the
Company. Besides beating them physically, the police is illegally
detaining people in violation of the Supreme Court's guidelines in D.K.Basu
case, implicating them in false cases and arranging to put them behind
bar to silence their democratic voice of protest and is bent upon harassing them to the point of submission. As per the detailed information the team could manage to collect, 18 people have been put to custody by being implicated in cases under stringent provisions of law, particularly dacoity. It is a discernible pattern that almost all the the people agitating for their basic rights of life and livelihood all over the state are invariably being booked under section 395 of IPC for dacoity punishable with life imprisonment, which raises reasonable suspicion that these cases are being deliberately foisted by the police.

ii) The armed police battalions are making march pasts and patrolling inside the villages to create a fear psychosis among the people. The police is also harassing people in market places and in other places of their work by indiscriminately questioning them, picking them up, detaining them in the police station and beating them up in the custody also. This has seriously affected the peace, life and livelihood of the poor tribal people of kashipur area guaranteed under Art 21 of the Constitution of India as they are afraid of going out to the market or near by townships and even into their own agricultural fields.

The people are also pressurised by the antisocial elements supposed to be the supporters of the Company and enjoying the open support of the police as has come out in the statement of more than one people of different villages. The people of the area are under a virtual siege.

iii) The police has illegally snatched away the motor
cycle and bicycles of some people (Bhaskar Naik, Narsi Murty and Salman
Chhatri etc of D.Korol Upper sahi and Bhubani Gouda of Lachhmiguda) and
uses it to trap them for arresting whenever they come to redeem these.
This has been proved from the open admission of the OIC of Tikiri P.S.

iv) The police is openly threatening people against attending meetings by moving from village to village and intimidating people to give undertaking that they would never participate in the anti-industry agitation. This is the glaring infringement upon the fundamental rights of people to freedom of speech and expression and peaceful assembly as enshrined under Art 19 of the Constitution of India.

v) Some particular armed police personnel (one Sri Maharana) even have threatened to rape the women by forcing into their houses. The police has threatened the women to rape them in the open congregations during their agitation on 1.12.2004. The armed police personnel are also creating nuisance by consuming liquor in the area. This has been further confirmed by the daughter of the sitting MLA of the area as she herself was chased by the drunken police men.Regarding the incident of attempt at sexual harassment of a girl of D.Korol village on 17.1.2005 as alleged by the people of differrent villages the team does n't have sufficient fact as to the real intention of the concerned police men.

But the fact remains that those who have rightly or wrongly protested against it have been beaten and threatened by them. There should be further investigation into the incident. Given the track record of nuisance
and audacity of the armed police personnel deployed in any locality all over the country in the name of maintaining law and order, their raping or taking liberty with women and oppression on and exploitation of common man, this type of allegations are believable.

vi) The people's agitation against establishment of a police outpost fearing further police repression is quite justified. The motive behind establishment of another police outpost at the UAIL plant site at D.korol when there is a police station at Tikiri and police outpost at Dongasil within a distance of around 16 km, particularly in a tribal area, has been rightly questioned by the local people. The team doubts if there are as much schools and primary health centres within that surrounding. In the backdrop of people of Kashipur dying of hunger by eating mango kernel the Govt's attempt to forcibly establish more police stations sounds ironical.Besides, the establishment of a police station in a scheduled area like Kashipur without consulting the concerned Gram Sabhas is a flagrant violation of the spirit of Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Area Act(PESA) 1996

vii) In view of the above the agitating tribals of Kashipur can not be faulted if they perceive the local police as the henchman of the Company. The over zealousness of the top district police officials and the local police to protect the interest of the Company in Kashipur area, even going to the extent of unnecessarily opening fire on the poor tribals and killing them and hatching conspiracy by changing FIR has been clearly established by the Justcice P.K.Misra Commission of Inquiry into the Maikanch police firing on 16.12.2000.

viii) Viewing the recent repression on the tribals of Kashipur and implicating them in false cases in the light of the Govt's attempt to suppress the findings of Misra Commission of Inquiry as referred to above and the widely publicised declaration of the state industries minister, Sri B.B.Harichandan in the last monsoon session of the Assembly that state govt would arrange to send any one to jail whosoever opposes the development and establishment of industries in the state, it can be safely concluded that the police is unleashing such repression on deliberate instruction of the Government as a matter of its policy.


2 Regarding the displcement of people, process of land acquisition
and support or opposition to establishment of Industry the team has very limited facts and scope to give any findings. However, it may give its observations as follows, with whatever facts available with it:

(i) The most important feature as observed by the team is that the original inhabitants of area who are to be widely affected in more than one way on establishment of the Alumina Industry, more likely, were never consulted before a decision was taken to bring the industry in the area. On the other hand much after the decision was taken and work progressed in that regard, the people were attempted to be duped by the company (agent/employee) that some people have come to help the local inhabitants and develop their economy by giving incentives for fisheries etc. Thus, the right of information on a very crucial point of changing the life pattern of a community was never honoured and there was no opportunity for the people to ventilate their grievance.

(ii) There was an attempt to legalise the whole process of establishment of industry by maintaining the records of land acquisition and at times, issuing notices of land acquisition without making the affected people understand what it meant. Attempts were made to make the people accept the compensation anyhow even in drunken stage, by being carried to Rayagada in the company sponsored vehicles or by intimidation in the presence of police.

(iii) It appears that at a latter stage people of a few villages being hopeless of retaining their land and household against the repression and realising the tentacles of the company and administration closely around them have somehow resigned to the idea of establishment of the company and have mentally prepared in desperation to leave their lands (village - Kendukhunti & Tala D. Korol) and have started bargaining, as a matter of last resort, for more compensation and execution of separate agreement with each major affected persons and for their job guarantee.

(iv)The whole process of land acquisition in a scheduled tribal area like Kashipur primarily appears to be illegal as it, prima facie, violates the provisions of Orissa Scheduled Area Transfer of Immovacble Property (Scheduled Tribes) Regulation, 1956 and also as amended in 2002. Under this regulation the land of tribals in such tribal areas can not be transferred to non-tribals. The Supreme Court of India in the famous Samata judgement has ruled that even the Govt is treated as a non-tribal in a tribal area, not to speak of a private Company.

(v) Leaving aside the controversy whether establishment of an Alumina Industry by multinational corporations in the area (for mining operation) is really needed in the larger interest of the state or not, the fact remains undisputed that the tribal people in the area who have been living there for ages peacefully developing their own culture and special pattern of life style are going to be adversely affected within a short period of establishment of such industry since, land, their only source of sustenance, will be taken away.

(vi) In view of the above the much talked about rights of the tribals in scheduled areas like Kashipur to peace, self-governance, life and livelihood, preserve and protect their own culture etc seem to carry no meaning for those likely to be displaced / disturbed, as decision is taken to take away such rights some where else by some others. This can be seen as a glaring example of not only debarring but also snatching away the most inherent rights of the indigenous people, in spite of constitutional and legal provisions in this regard.

(vii) The statement of OIC Tikiri PS that 95% of the people are in favour of establishment of industry and only the outsiders are instigating the tribals seems to be out of proportion as in that case there would have been not so much opposition and the matter would not have dragged on so long. This statement appears to be false and is made probably to justify his illegal action taken against the people. The team could discernibly observe that the women were very vociferous and determined in their opposition against the acquisition of their land even against the wishes of their man folk in some cases. Even the women members of the sitting MLA's family are against the alienation of their land as opposed the opinion of the MLA himself who is known to be in favour of it.

The fact remains that the Govt has never made any attempt to take the opinion of the people in any democratic manner before notifying to acquire their land as provided under law like PESA Act 1996. Regarding the allegation of the presence of outsiders or the support of the outsiders, justifiability of such support or presence can never be questioned since, being citizens of this country they have every right to stay any where they like, support agitate and make aware people on any issue of their concern.

Recommendations

  1. The team strongly feels that the reign of terror and repression on people should be immediately stopped. Immediate attempts should be made to restore the fundamental rights of the people to speech and expression as well as to decide their own fate and Govt. should honour such opinion by its positive action. The doors for direct dialogue with the people on the problem in a free and fearless atmosphere should
    remain open and Govt should democratically take the opinion of the
    people regarding the acquisition of their land. As a measure for creating a congenial atmosphere and to repose confidence, several cases filed against the anti-industry agitators be immediately withdrawn.
  2. Action be taken against the OIC Kashipur for his various illegal actions and he should be taken out of the locality.
  3. The CRPF and armed police battalion deployed in the area be immediately withdrawn.
  4. The establishment of police outpost be immediately stopped and welfare measures like irrigation, health and education of the people be undertaken.
  5. More inquiry should be made into the incident of alleged attempt of sexual harassment of a girl at D.Karol village on 17.1.2005 and action should be initiated against the concerned police personnel if sufficient evidence is found.
  6. The articles snatched away by the police from people should be returned forthwith and the guilty officials for such snatching be proceeded against.
  7. Govt should reexamine and reconsider the whole process of land acquisition in the proposed plant area if it conforms to the letter and spirit of provisions of Orissa Scheduled Area Transfer of Immovacble Property (Scheduled Tribes) Regulation, 1956 and also that of as
    amended in 2002. If such conformity is not there the land acquisition
    process should be abrogated forthwith.

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