The battle lines are clearly drawn in Orissa between the local people and the state government on the question of who has a right to the land, forests and mineral resources of the state. The authority of the government to sell off these resources to various big corporations is clearly being challenged by the people who have been living on and earning their livelihood from this soil. Here is a report of one more stand-off in this battle.
The Orissa government is working overtime to suppress any democratic resistance and protest coming in its way of opening mining reserves for plunder by Indian and multinational companies. The leadership is busy signing MOUs everyday and the state police have been empowered to deal with firmly if anywhere people are preparing themselves to oppose this madness of the regime.
In Kasipur, where Alcan and Aditya Birla’s UAI have not got any fresh approval from appropriate authorities under the forest and environment acts, repression has been used against people to force them to leave. The local police is terrorizing innocent tribals either by arresting them or by arresting people who have volunteered to bail out their arrested kith and kin.
On 25 th October 2005, the Jajpur district deputy police chief came in plain clothes to Bhubaneswar in a vehicle donated to them by the Jindals and kidnapped Rabindra Jarka the tribal leader of the movement of displaced persons of Kalingnagar industrial city from a crowded public road close to the venue of the All India Tribal Convention organized by the AIKMS and Loka Sangram Manch.
Running up to 11 November 2005, the police were aggressively continuing their mission of arresting the visiting leaders and activists including their local hosts in Lanjigarh and Bhawanipatnam who had started arriving in Bhawanipatnam and Lanjigarh in response to the appeal of the local movement against Vedanta Aluminum to launch a " Vedanta Go Back" campaign. The report of the CEC of Supreme Court, accusing the Company of gross violation of forest and conservation laws and acts and indicting the state and union governments for their complicity in the crimes, have inspired the locals to renew their demands of throwing Vedanta out of Kalahandi.
Several forces opposing the sell-out of people’s land and resources to big corporations were converging at the gate of Vedanta’s plant site in Lanjigarh, on 11 November, 2005 with a plan to launch an agitation against construction that the company is pursuing at an aggressive pace ignoring the CEC report. However, armed police had surrounded Lanjigarh from all sides and prevented the activists from reaching their destination.
Key local leaders and activists, including Nayan Dash and Sidharth Naik had been picked up. The police in Bhawanipatnam were searching for state level leaders camping in the town to arrest them. People approaching Lanjgarh by road had been threatened with dire consequences. A war like situation was created in the district because of massive deployment of armed police.
Report from an activist on site in Lanjigarh, Orissa