stop atrocities on adivasis in kashipur, orissa

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Appeal to Chief Minister Nabin Patnaik
Dear Shri Nabin Patnaik,
We were shocked to hear about the lathicharge on Dec 1, 2004 by the Orissa police on the adivasis of the Kashipur block who were protesting the forcible takeover of their lands by Utkal Alumina Company well as the establishment of an armed Police Station in the village of D. Karol to enable UAIL company to suppress the popular anti-mining movement and to carry out construction activity for their plant. It is ironical that while the people of Kashipur have been demanding setting-up of medical facilities and schools at all panchayats, the Government chooses to set up a police station for the benefit of a private company.
According to our reports, the situation in the region is quite tense with the district administration and the police unleashing a reign of terror in the Kashipur area. The Orissa State Armed Police along with the CRPF, and IRB are raiding the villages and are arresting innocent tribals indiscriminately. Sources inform us that four activists, Prafulla Samantara, Achyut Das, Rabi Pradhan and Bhagaban Majhi, are likely to be booked under National Security Act (NSA) and non-bailable arrest warrants issued against 28 others.
The police has also resorted to unprovoked violence against the adivasi and dalit residents, and the critically injured have been denied hospital care and are now languishing in Rayagada jail. Several injured agitators are also reportedly missing. In the meanwhile, the whole proposed project area and the villages opposing the mining project have been sealed off by the administration and police, with journalists and others not being allowed beyond Tikiri on the road to Kucheipadar and the other proposed project affected villages.
This news has spread all over the area, and thousands of angry and agitated tribals are reported to have spontaneously gathered on the roads and public places, armed with their traditional bow and arrows and other weapons. It seems that the stage is set for a bloody confrontation between the police and the Adivasis. The tribals of the region have a long history of rebellions against repression, and the situation might well go out of control very fast and lead to large- scale violence. The people are angry and will not back down in front of state terror. They see the UAIL project as a basic infringement of their fundamental rights and dignity as human beings and are willing to die to oppose the same. It seems that the Government of Orissa has forgotten the valiant history of the tribals of Koraput who had fought the British with Laxman Nayak and, more recently, were not deterred by the killing of the three tribals in Maikanch firing.
As you are undoubtedly aware, the struggle of the Kashipur tribals against the mining of the sacred Baphlimali Mountain for bauxite and the proposed alumina refinery started 12 years ago. The Kashipur tribals have opposed the removal of the bauxite rich mountain top for short term gain. (Nearly 20,000 people would be displaced in 82 villages by the
proposed project which has employment potential of only 1000 and that too for only 20 years.) For them, the employment and compensation generated by the project will last for a few years, whereas the loss of water retaining bauxite, the drying of the springs, the poisoning of their lands will destroy the lives of their future generation. Deeply attached to their ancestral land and forests, the adivasis of Kashipur have faced the combined might of the State and the powerful companies for these twelve years, in spite of their people being killed, arrested, tortured and humiliated. The anti-mining movement in the Kashipur area has gone from strength to strength, and three massive bauxite mining projects, all export oriented, have been stalled by the resistance of the movement.

We, the following organizations and individuals of Karnataka, condemn the Orissa governments violence in Kashipur and express our solidarity with the courageous Adivasi and dalits of Kashipur who are fighting for their right to livelihood and community resources in all areas of Orissa. We urge you to:
1. Withdraw all armed police forces from Kashipur area
2. Release all people arrested in Kashipur
3. Immediately stop construction of barracks and police station in D. Karal
4. Withdraw all cases against the anti mining agitators and protestors
5. Ensure proper medical treatment of the injured
6. Cancel the MOU with UAIL and scrap the UAIL project.
With best wishes,
Yours sincerely,