Reports from Narayanpatna
The reporting on the Narayanpatna movement in Orissa first appears on Radicalnotes
Fact-finding report on Narayanpatna movement (Nov 25 2009)
Apr 27 2010: Custodial Death of Gangula Tadingi arrested in connection with CMAS
Jan 31 2010: The Arrest of Gananath Patra
Jan 28 2010: Gananath Patra arrested : Press statements demanding his release
Jan 5 2010: Tribal children of Narayanapatna confined in Koraput Jail violating Juvenile Justice Act – K. Sudhakar Patnaik
Jan 01 2010: Pamphlet of various organisations(in Oriya)
Dec 19 2009: The After Kill Of Narayanpatna – A Tehelka report
Dec 14 2009: No News from Narayanpatna
Dec 12 2009: A Zone Of Twisted Law – A Tehelka report
Dec 9 2009: Experience of All India Women’s Fact Finding Team: Press Conference
Dec 7 2009: Orissa’s “Most Wanted”: On Nachika Linga, leader of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS)
Dec 4 2009: Public meeting: Call to stop an anti-Maoist witch hunt in Orissa
Dec 1 2009: The Arrest of Tapan Mishra
Nov 29 2009: Orissa Bandh against the police firing on tribals and to condemn the killing of two Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) leaders – A report
Nov 23 2009: An Interview with Gananath Patra
Custodial Death of Gangula Tadingi arrested in connection with CMAS
A PUCL ( Bhubaneswar ) Report (Source : Radical Notes)
April 25, 2010
Gangula Tadingi, a poor adivasi man, aged about 40, died on 12th April 2010 in judicial custody, reportedly of Tuberculosis. He was an under trial prisoner kept in Koraput District Jail. Tadingi was one of the 133 people arrested in connection with the alleged attack by the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha on Narayanpatna Police Station on 20th November 2009 in which two adivasi people were killed and many more injured in police firing. On the incident of police firing, the PUCL Bhubaneswar had written to the State Human Rights Commission making an appeal for an investigation into the incident. There has been no response from the Commission on this even after six months.
When the news of Tadingi’s death was reported in a section of local media one of the PUCL members from Bhubaneswar unit visited Koraput during 16th-17th April 2010 to find out the circumstances leading to this death in custody. The following report is based on the member’s interviews with the jail authorities i.e., the Superintendent of Jail, the Jail Doctor, the District Collector and the Superintendent of Police Koraput, Dr.Niranjan Das, the TB specialist at the District Hospital Koraput, Mr.Nihar Ranjan Pattanaik and Mr.Gupteswar Panigrahi, lawyers for the deceased Tangidi as well as for other arrested people of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha and one NGO activist who visited the victim’s village and met his family members. An interview with some of the jail inmates was refused by the jail authorities citing ‘security’ concern.
Version of Sri Brahmananda Sahu, Superintendent of Jail: Gangula Tadingi was admitted into the jail on 17.12.09. To his knowledge he had no health problem at the time of entry. He was detected having TB two months ago, treated by the jail doctor in the jail hospital till 7th April when he was shifted to the District hospital as his condition worsened. He died on 12th April. His family was not informed of his illness and only when he died a message was sent home. On asking why Tadingi’s family was not informed of his illness, even after he was admitted in the district hospital, the Jail Superintendent said he had tried. He said he had sent the message to the Narayanapatna Police Station and the PS did not convey the message to the family.
Tadingi’s family was sent for after he died and after doing the post-mortem the body was handed over to his wife. The body was buried in Koraput itself as the district administration could not provide a vehicle to transport the body to Tadingi’s village.
Tadingi was last produced in the Court on 19.2.10. On asking why he was not produced in the court for nearly two months, when he should have been produced once in every 15 days, the Superintendent said that the jail authorities could do nothing about it, because, for security reasons, unless adequate police force was provided the under trial prisoners couldn’t be taken to the Court.
Version of Dr.L.D.Nayak, the Jail Doctor: At the time of entry into the jail, Gangula Tadingi had reported body ache and was given medicines for that. He had told the doctor that the police had badly beaten him up before he was brought to the jail. When asked whether this matter was recorded in the register the doctor said that it wasn’t as ‘there was no external injury marks’. According to the jail doctor Tadingi was continuously complaining of fever and stomach ache and was diagnosed having Pulmonary Tuberculosis in January 2010. Since then he was treated in the jail hospital till 7th April when he was shifted to the District Hospital . On asking whether Tadingi was kept in a separate room or along with other patients in the same room the doctor said that he was kept in a separate room. When asked why did Tadingi die when TB is curable and when he was saying that he was satisfied with the treatment and the diet provided to him the doctor replied by saying ‘it would be known only from the post-mortem report’. When asked whether he suspected anything which could have been caused by the police beating he replied, ‘possibility of an internal injury can not be ruled out’. The doctor also told that Tadingi was not the only one who had complained of police beating – many people arrested in connection with Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha had complained of the same.
When asked how many TB patients are there in the jail presently the doctor said there is one more TB patient but there might be more also since not all inmates (above 500 people are kept in the jail) are being examined for TB. When asked why aren’t they being examined, he said that unless somebody comes of with symptoms they don’t examine. And, “Tribal people, being illiterate and unaware of the symptoms, would not complain of any illness unless it becomes serious”.
Version of Dr.Niranjan Das, TB Specialist of Koraput District Hospital: Gangula Tadingi was admitted in the District Hospital 7th April, 2010 . His treatment was alright. Then how did he die when TB is curable? “That will be known from the post mortem report”, was his reply. The doctor then mentioned that on 10th April he had recommended the jail authorities to shift Tadingi to the MKCG Medical College Hospital , Berhampur for further diagnosis. But the jail authorities did not shift him. He also developed jaundice and died on 12th April.
Meeting with Rajesh P. Patil, District Collector, Koraput : The district collector told that he had sent his interim report to the NHRC on the death of Gangula Tadingi within twenty-four hours of the incident. The final report would be sent once the post mortem report is available. When asked for a copy of this report he said, “I can’t give it like that. You apply it through RTI”. When asked whether he found any negligence on the part of the jail authorities in the treatment of Tadingi, he said he didn’t. When asked if there was no negligence in the treatment then how did he die, his reply was, “We have to wait for the post-mortem report”.
On the question of not producing Tadingi in the Court, thereby not giving an under-trial prisoner the opportunity to inform the court whether he was getting proper treatment or not, the collector said that that job is looked after by the court and the jail authorities and the district administration has nothing to do with it. The district administration, on its part, is trying to release on bail most of the under-trial prisoners in Narayanpatna case. They have appointed a nodal officer to look into this.
Did he visit the jail regularly in his role as a member of the District Jail Committee to look into the health and hygienic conditions in the jail and did he know of the illness of Tadingi and enquire into the treatment he was getting? Does he know whether TB patients are kept in separate room/ward or allowed to be kept with other patients? To these questions the collector replied that he visited the jail as a member of the Jail Committee, found the jail conditions alright but did not know of the illness of Tadingi. He said he didn’t know whether TB patients were kept separately from other patients or not.
When asked how the District administration could be so insensitive as not to provide any help to Tadingi’s family to take the body to his village, he said, “Who said that we didn’t help. We had arranged for a vehicle but the driver was not willing to go. You know the situation in Narayanpatna. I was informed about the case at the last moment. We have sanctioned an amount of Rs.10000/- from the family benefit scheme”.
When asked, why is that a civil liberty organization denied access to the jail inmates and, when we are denied access, how can we believe that everything is alright inside the jail walls, he said, “It is for security reasons. There are Maoists in the jail. So there are restrictions in meeting. But if the Superintendent of Police allows you to meet I have no objection”.
Meeting with Shri Anup Sahu, Superintendent of Police, Koraput : On asking why the Narayanpatna police did not communicate the message sent by the jail authorities to the family of Ganguly Tadingi, the SP said, “It’s not easy. I, myself, haven’t been able to communicate with my own people in Narayanpatna police station for the last three days. Roads are being cut off so often. What do you expect in such situation?”
“It is not our responsibility to see whether the under-trial prisoners are produced in the court or not. It is for the court and the jail authorities to see to it”, was the response when told about what the jail authorities were saying about the non-cooperation of the police in production of under-trial prisoners in court.
Meeting with the Lawyers defending Gangula Tadingi : “Not producing Gangula Tadingi in the court for nearly two months is not an exception; rather it is the norm. There is no doubt that the jail authorities and the police take a casual attitude of their duty to produce the under-trial prisoners at every adjournment. Citing security reasons is only a plea.
“Tadingi was not given proper diet, required for a TB patient, in the jail. He was not kept in a separate room in the jail hospital. He was kept in the same room along with other patients. Other inmates of the jail have reported these facts. We got to know of Tadingi’s illness only when he was shifted to the District Hospital .
“After the death of Gangula Tadingi, all inmates skipped one meal as a mark of solidarity but some of the inmates sat on a hunger strike demanding suspension of the Jail superintendent and the jail welfare officer, compensation for his family. They had other demands as well, such as regular production of the under-trial prisoners in the Court, withdrawal of cases against people associated with Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha and to stop operation green hunt etc. During the hunger strike the jail authorities were reluctant even to allow the lawyers to meet their clients even though it was reported that their conditions were serious.”
Discussion with an NGO activist who visited the village of Gangula Tadingi and met the family members: Gangula Tadingi was a poor agricultural labourer. He was one of those adivasis who supposedly ‘surrendered’ before the police after the Narayanpatna police firing incident. He was asked by the police to report at the police station once in every week and Gangula had reported twice. When he went to report for the third time on the third week he was arrested. Tadingi’s wife reported that he didn’t have any health problem before the arrest. She was not informed by the jail authorities that her husband was ill and that he had TB. Even when she reached the Hospital Morgue, after getting news of Tadingi’s death, she was not told how he died. The police did not make any arrangement to carry the dead body to their village. The police only offered some money but didn’t help to arrange for a vehicle. Since they didn’t know anybody in Koraput who could help in arranging a vehicle they left it to the police to do whatever it wanted to with the dead body. The family members have heard that the government would give them an amount of Rs.10000/- but are yet to receive it. The family has a job card under NREGS but not a single entry has been made in it. Tadingi’s wife, Kamala Tadingi is in poor health herself and since her husband’s arrest has been struggling to feed herself and her three minor children.
Observations and Demands:
1. The death of under-trial prisoner Gangula Tadingi is unnatural and unfortunate. It is a violation of right to life of the victim.
2. The victim was not produced in the Court, neither physically nor through video linkage, within 15 days interval, which is a mandatory provision under Code of Criminal Procedure and a statutory right of an under-trial prisoner. It has been observed that the other under-trial prisoners of the same jail, associated with Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha, are also not produced in the Court at regular interval.
3. The visits of District Collector and other members of the District jail Committee to prisons to look into the health and hygiene conditions, medical and other facilities appear to be ritual visits. It does not seem to satisfy the objective of the visit of the team to look into the jail conditions in general and the rights of the under-trial prisoners in particular.
4. The family of the victim is in a distressed condition which has been deprived of its sole earning member.
5. Different reports have been collected regarding whether the victim, a TB patient, was kept separately or along with other patients in the jail hospital. It may be recalled that according to one sample study by the NHRC nearly seventy-nine percent of deaths in judicial custody (other than those attributed to custodial violence) were as a result of infection of Tuberculosis.]
6. The district administration did not make necessary arrangements to transport the dead body of Gangula Tadingi from Koraput to his native village for cremation as per the tradition of the community. It is a clear violation of human right of the victim’s family.
7. Not allowing the civil liberty organizations, in the name of security, to interact with any of the jail inmates does not appear to be prima facie valid. It raises the suspicion that the rights of the under-trial prisoners/convicts, and specifically, the basic rights of the inmates relating to health, hygiene and medical facilities are not properly protected.
Considering all the above circumstances with regard to the death of Gangula Tadinga in judicial custody, and the larger issue of the rights of prisoners, we demand that:
1. An independent inquiry, preferably a judicial one, be instituted to look into all aspects that led to the custodial death of Gangula Tadingi and officials responsible be punished accordingly;
2. The family of Ganguly Tadingi must be adequately compensated for the family lost its sole earning member;
3. The mandatory provision as laid down under section 167 (2) (b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure be scrupulously implemented to ensure the production of under-trial prisoners in the Court once in every 15 days. And there should be proper communication between each prisoner and the concerned Magistrate in every case; and
4. All inmates of the jail should be medically examined to ensure early detection of any serious ailment and proper medical attention be provided accordingly.
The arrest of Gananath Patra
By Satyabrata, Sanhati.
On the 27th of January, 2010, Gananath Patra, one of the leaders of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh that spearheaded the land redistribution movement of tribal in Narayanpatna, was arrested as he was stepping out after a meeting with Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, who is a renowned political scientist and social researcher. According to Prof. Mohanty, the arrest was a pre-planned move by the Orissa police as plain clothes policemen were keeping a watch on the meeting. The Orissa government has been regularly attempting, through the media and other sources, to brand the CMAS as a frontal organization of the CPI (Maoist) in spite of denials of this allegations by both CMAS leaders (see interview with Gananath Patra) and CPI(Maoist) state committee secretary Sabyasachi Panda. The easiest path that the Indian State has found to crush democratic movements is by using the biggest fetish of democracy – the law. The movement of Narayanpatna was never illegal and was aimed at implementing an existing law regarding the distribution of lands to tribals. This is why even the collector of the region was sympathetic to it and ended up being accused of backing the Maoists. The best way to suppress a movement is to brand it as Maoist or Maoist-backed as the Maoists have been posited by the Indian State as the single largest threat to “interal security”.
The seriousness of the existing conditions of Orissa can be judged if one knows the trajectory of Gananath Patra’s movement during and after the incident of 20th November in Narayanpatna. On the day tribals marched to the police station seeking answers as to why their wives and daughters were being molested in the name of combing operations. This was followed by firing by the police and killing of two CMAS leaders. Just after this, Gananath Patra was present on live television, speaking about the achievements of the movement. However, the media still portrayed that the tribals had been to Narayanpatna police station in order that they could loot weaponry. Moreover, it has more than once been alleged in the media that Gananath Patra was acting as a mediator of the Maoists! This created the ground for the subsequent arrest of Gananath Patra.
The ‘civil society’ of Orissa has partially been subsumed by brutal attacks of the State and partially been hegemonized in the typhoon of ongoing “development”. Therefore, a consciousness of a generalized logic of ongoing movements that could force the State back is not existant. As a result, its response to the arrest of Gananath Patra has been very limited. Gananath Patra’s arrest is a slap in the face of all movements that are potentially revolutionary.
Press Statements condemning the arrest of Gananath Patra and demanding his release
Condemn Assaults on Democracy
Condemn State Repression on Democratic Mass Movements Against Injustice
The leaders of mass movements and democratic political organizations condemned today the shocking incident of undemocratic arrest and possible torture of veteran Marxist leader Com Gananath Patra by the State police in Bhubaneswar on 27 January 2010. Com Gananath Patra has been in the forefront of the anti-displacement struggles throughout the state. He is one person who was able to articulate the issues related to rapid industrialization quite well and could share this with masses in a convincing manner. Be it Baliapal or Kalinganagar or Narayanpatna he supported the struggles without any hesitation and as a true revolutionary always wanted to be with the victims of injustice. He supported Nachika Linga and the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh when he realized that these liberated bonded laborers were fighting against the liquor Mafia, land grabbers and tried to get justice for the victimized tribals.
Since, Com Gananath Patra stood firmly behind the victims of industrialization and forcible land grabbing the State wanted to silence his voice. Several false cases have been filed against him including that of murder and attempt to murder at time when he was nowhere close to any area where such “ crimes” have taken place. It has been impossible for the state to deal with Maoists but the state is targeting peaceful and democratic mass movements who have been raising issues of genuine concerns to tribals and the oppressed communities throughout the state. The media need to be cautious about the motives of the state who is promoting the interests of the capital only at the cost of its own people. Certain discredited police officers of the past are unnecessarily getting media space to spread confusion about the protest movements and their sympathizers. The state, instead of the listening to the voice of the oppressed millions is now trying to finish the democratic struggles for justice everywhere as it anticipates these movements to be a threat to the mindless mining and industrialization agenda the political leadership is pursuing today with the support of the opposition for their own self interests. Be it Laxman Chaudhury or Gananath Patra if any one speaks out truth and fights for justice he/she will be silenced.
The police have arrested Com Patra just to warn the people who are trying to be with the oppressed common men to defend their rights when the government of the day is trying to finish them off and hand over their rich resources to profit making corporations who in turn will help build the fortune of future generations of the ruling politicians and the ruling elites of the state.
We express deep concern for Com Patra’s health which is in a bad condition. We are afraid the insane police force will not take his helth condition seriusly and sympatheticlly.
All the mass movements will meet at Bhubaneswar in a convention to expose the state’s corporate friendly and anti-people agenda on 10th February 2010. They have appealed the people of the state to understand the grim future they are being forced to face and to react before it becomes too late.
Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan
Radhakant Sethy, CPI ML Liberation,
Bhala Chandra, CPI ML New Democracy,
Sivaram, CPI ML,
Prashant Paikray, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Source – RadicalNotes
27 January 2009
We condemn the way Sri Gananath Patra, advisor to Chasi Mulia Sangh, Narayanpatna has been picked up by the police on 27th January 2010 around 7pm from Bhubaneswar . He was invited to a meeting with some of the members of a national level joint fact finding committee preparing to visit Narayanpatna. After the meeting, while he was on his way, he was picked up by the plain clothes policemen from Vivekananda Marg.
It is pertinent to mention that Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh is not a banned organization and it has been fighting against the exploitation of adivasi for the last 10-15 years. Shri Patra has been active in various mass movements in Orissa for last 25 years and not involved in any unlawful activity. Besides, his name was not even mentioned in the wanted list of people circulated by police in the context of Narayanpatna struggle.
If he has been arrested by the police, no information regarding his arrest is available in the police control room, none of his near and dear one has been informed. This is outright violation of guidelines set by D.K. Basu judgment.
We demand the immediate release of Sri Gananath Patra.
Pramodini Pradhan, Convenor, P.U.C.L.-Bhubaneswar
Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, Delhi
Dr. D. Manjit, Kashipur Solidarity Group, Delhi
Biswapriya Kanungo, Advocate and Human Rights Activist, Bhubaneswar
By K. Sudhakar Patnaik. Jan 5 2010.
The number of persons so far to have been taken into judicial custody from Narayanapatna block in Koraput district touched 104. This includes tribal children.
The number of tribal children below 14 years is around 15, confined in Koraput District Jail. One kid Bheema, son of Sitaya, was sent to Berhampur Juvenile Home out of the 16 children the police have taken into custody. The other 15 were sent to Jail custody.
The Sub-divisional police officer Mr. Jagannath Rao who spoke to the team of the Sr. Citizens’ Fact Finding Team to Narayanapatna said “the juveniles had been arrested because they are armed and taking part in criminal activities, that there was a list of cases filed against the juveniles arrested”.
The author of this story is in possession of the list of the children those who are inside the Koraput Dist. Jail. Sr. Advocate Nihar Ranjan Patnaik condemned the brutal attack on children and opined the confinement of the children inside the Jail with criminals is nothing but criminalising the children.
The children do not know the language (Odia) which the jail authority speak and also do not know why they are in jail.
The food which the tribal children are getting from the jail authorities is quite insufficient and consists of boiled water with little quantity of dal and turmeric powder, said one of the jail visiting advocates Mr. Balakrishna, who is also one of the Executive Body Member of the Committee for the release of Political Prisoners.
They face a number of criminal cases which include waging war against the democratically elected government, looting, attempt to murder, murder, attempt to snatch arms and other criminal cases.
The After Kill Of Narayanpatna
By Sanjana, Tehelka. Dec 18 2009
THE VOICE at the other end of the line is weak and tired. It’s past 8 pm. “We are on our way to the village,” he says. “We walk six hours every day – three hours at daybreak from our village into the forest and three hours at sundown back to the village. We hide in the jungles during the day and come to the village at night. We don’t want to be arrested by the police who come to our villages during the day,” says the 24-yearold. A few minutes of conversation later, he asks if his name and village can be kept anonymous. “If the police read the report, they may come to our village and hunt us down,” he says. Nothing you say can dislodge the fear.
Three weeks after a police firing, Narayanpatna in Orissa continues to resemble a war zone – with near-empty villages. The 24-year-old Adivasi that TEHELKA spoke with is only one of several hundred families who live in constant fear.
On 20 November 2009, two Adivasis died in the paramilitary forces’ firing at the Narayanpatna police station. Both the Adivasis were part of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh – an Adivasi organisation in the region that is fighting for the last 15 years for the Adivasis’ right over land – and were part of a 150 strong group that had gathered at the police station to protest over continued police harassment. Last week, in the story ‘A zone of twisted law’ (issue 50 dated 19 December, 2009) TEHELKA had detailed attempts by the state to derail the CMAS and other Adivasi organisations working in the area by equating them directly with the Communist Party of India (Maoist) active in the region.
The Special Operations Group unit of the police and paramilitary forces, such as the Indian Reserve Battalion and the COBRA force stationed at Narayanpatna, continue with their search-and-combing operations in their attempts to arrest absconding leaders of CMAS. Arrests from the villages continue – unconfirmed reports talk of three more Adivasis being arrested on 14 December 2009 – even as the security forces seek to arrest key CMAS leader Nachika Linga.
Currently, 70 people have been arrested and lodged in the Koraput district jail. Though all the arrests have taken place after 20 November, not all of them are related to the protest on the day. Says Gupteswar Panigrahy, a Koraputbased advocate who has stepped forward to represent the arrested CMAS members: “Of the 70 people arrested, only 20 have been charged with cases related to the protest on 20 November 2009. The charges range from voluntarily causing hurt to rioting armed with deadly weapons to criminal conspiracy. The police have also levelled charges under the Indian Arms Act. As for the rest of the people, they have been arrested for cases that are several months old. By arresting all of them now, we believe that the police are unnecessarily attempting to create a climate of fear in the villages.”
Panigrahy is one of three advocates who has been allowed access to the undertrial prisoners. He categorically details the injuries sustained by those arrested while in custody. On 14 December 2009, when the jail authorities brought some of the undertrial prisoners before the Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) at Lakshmipur, 4 Adivasis – Mahua Champa, Champiya Jama, Prasanna Maleka and Mandangi Subbarao – complained of injuries and asked the magistrate for medical treatment. Ask Panigrahy how many of those arrested have been injured and he speaks of the pathetic condition that he found some of them in. “Visible body injuries aside, I have heard that some of the Adivasi women have been raped in custody. I have not been able to confirm these reports yet. I also found one minor amongst those arrested. A school student, aged around 14 years, has been lodged in the same jail since the police authorities have recorded his age as 18 years. There is a lot the police have to answer for,” he says quietly.
Yet another question Panigrahy and his team lay out is the presentation of arms at a press conference held by the Superintendent of Police, Deepak Kumar, in Koraput on 29 November 2009. The arms had been seized, the police claimed, during raids a day earlier. The place of weapons seizure falls under the Lakshimpur JMFC jurisdiction and according to procedure should have been deposited with the court. Moving it out of the court for presentation at a press conference would then require the authorisation of the court. “Even at the time of hearing on 14 December, the police had not even provided the court with a list of the seized weapons, leave alone the question of depositing them,” points out Panigrahy. It was only after Panigrahy pointed this out that the court directed the police to provide them with the list. “Procedures have been laid out to ensure there is no manipulation by the police. What is to stop them from adding weapons to the seized list now?” asks Panigrahy. When TEHELKA contacted SP Deepak Kumar to speak about the heavy police deployment and reports of police high handedness, he refused to answer questions, only offering the comment that “the police were doing their duty” and that there was no further discussion necessary.
THE HIGH-HANDEDNESS of the security forces in Narayanpatna is not limited to what appears as indiscriminate arrests of Adivasis or their subsequent treatment. In the villages that TEHELKA visited in Narayanpatna block, including Palaput and Bhaliaput, the few Adivasis who had remained behind talked uneasily of the threats issued by the security forces if they harvested the crops from the lands they had been cultivating. Consider the context in which threats against crop harvesting have been issued and the high-handedness of the security forces becomes apparent. Across Narayanpatna block, over the years, reclamation of land grabbed from the Adivasis was one of the central rallying points for the CMAS. Gananath Patra, or GP as he is called, a key CMAS leader, told TEHELKA that before the struggle for land reclamation was launched a year ago, Adivasi land possession had dropped to less than 5 percent in the block. “In an area where Adivasi population is around 90 percent (the 2001 census confirms these figures), this meant serious land-grabbing by non-tribals who had migrated to the region less than 15 years ago. Over the years, before CMAS gained ground, Adivasis were dispossessed of their land using liquor as an incentive. Most of the people who took away Adivasi land were liquour vendors and traders,” says GP. The veteran leader talks of how the first struggle that CMAS launched was to stop manufacture and sale of liquour in the villages followed by attempts to establish Adivasi claims over their land.
Nachika Linga, the now absconding CMAS leader, in a previously published interview talked of the effort and the patience the Adivasis exhibited while attempting to recover the land through legal procedures. “For years we followed legal procedures, filed application after application since the law, The Orissa Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property Regulation, recognises Adivasis’ right over paternal land. We would file and wait. For Adivasis who are mostly illiterate and have no knowledge of the laws, this was a huge exercise in itself,” Linga is reported to have said. When filing applications yielded no result, CMAS launched a forceful takeover of land from the non-tribal liquour vendors and the traders. In the clashes that erupted in May 2009 between the nontribals and the CMAS, one person died and several non-tribal families fled – leaving their lands and houses. Since May 2009, Adivasis have cultivated the fields, growing their staple crops of paddy and millets – crops that are now ready for harvesting.
Following the firing on 20 November, security forces – accompanied often by non-tribals – have issued warnings to Adivasis to desist from harvesting crops from these lands. In Palaput village, Adivasis told TEHELKA that the non-tribal families who had fled the village had returned a week after the firing to warn the Adivasis of arrests if crops were harvested. “They told us that they would be back with the police to make us harvest the crops and hand them over. If we went into the fields before that, we were told that we would be beaten up and arrested,” says Hiko Kalati, an Adivasi resident of Palaput. “We cultivated the land, it is our sweat and blood that has tended the crops,” asks Kalati. “If our leaders were around, we would have gone ahead and cut the crops before they came. But now what can we do but watch?” he says before looking away. In village after village, voices subdued by fear ask the same question. In Bhaliaput, as part of the search-and-combing operations, the security forces had destroyed the foodgrains Adivasis had stored from a previous harvest. With destruction of stored foodgrains and a warning to not harvest crops, what would be the source of food in the months to come? The Adivasis of Bhaliaput had only blank faces to offer as answers.
Outside the villages, pose the question to the non-tribals who are eagerly awaiting police protection to proceed with crop harvesting and there are ready answers available. Anand Kirsani, a trader who has emerged as the voice of the non-tribals opposing the CMAS in Narayanpatna, is very vocal about the issue. “Why didn’t they think of this before they took away our lands? First, they threatened us, forcibly took over our lands and when we turned to the police for protection, turned on the police and attacked them. They only have themselves to blame for their present situation,” says Kirsani. He goes on to explain how they (the non-tribals) have gone on to organise themselves – an organisation called Koraput District Nagarik Surakhya and Shanti Committee has been floated. In the past three months the committee has held several protests condemning the CMAS and the land reclamation process it has started in the region. A minute of conversation with Kirsani and the vehemence in obvious – the CMAS are Maoists and deserve stringent punishment – a fact that the police have thankfully woken up to, he says. Are the police helping them to harvest the crops? There is not a moment of hesitation as he answers in the affirmative.
Officially, Koraput Sub-Collector Rajesh Patil has announced that the harvests will be monitored by the district administration and that there will be a 50-50 share accorded to the Adivasis and the original land owners. While questions remain about the monitoring and implementation of this arrangement, there are several advocates who point to the illegality of such an announcement by the district administration. Nihar Ranjan Patnaik, a special advocate under the state government’s Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihood Programme, says it is a clear violation of the settled principle of law. “The law recognises the rights of a trespasser if he has a settled possession of the property – in this case, the Adivasis’ rights as trespassers is established since they have been cultivating the land. If the crops are not handed over to the Adivasis, there is danger of starvation in the area in addition to the existing lawlessness,” says Koraput-based Patnaik. A few weeks is all there is to determine the possession of the harvests – before the crops rot and become useless for both the Adivasis and the non-tribals.
IN THE ordinary course of events, both the issues of possible starvation and continued repression of Adivasis in the villages of Narayanpatna would warrant an independent assessment. But in the war zone that is Narayanpatna, this is a remote possibility. When a team of nine women from various civil rights organisations attempted to travel to the region on 9 December 2009, they were severely abused and assaulted by the police and armed youth. A press statement issued by the team a day later provided a detailed account of how the team members were strangled, beaten up and assaulted repeatedly – even right outside the Narayanpatna police station. They were ultimately forced to return – without having travelled to the villages.
In a democracy, citizens are allowed to travel freely across the country. War zones are, of course, excluded. Has Narayanpatna in Orissa then become a war zone?
No news from Narayanpatna
by Satyabrata, December 15, 2009 Radical Notes and Sanhati
“The fact is people have lost the fear of the law because they feel they can get away with anything. My job is to take hard police action against the Naxals. The fear of the law is to be ingrained in the people.”
This is how one of the leading police officers in Chhattisgarh defined his task. All of us understand what constitutes the mechanism of ingraining the fear so that it becomes part of the people’s collective unconscious for a long time to come. It has been practiced in Kashmir, in the Northeast, in Chhattisgarh among many other places, and now in Orissa.
The State has dealt with the Narayanpatna movement in Orissa too in a most brutal, yet tactful, manner so that the possibilities inherent in it are not realized, and its brutal suppression becomes a reminder lesson for others on what constitutes the legitimate within the evolving political economy in India.
As “a single spark can start a prairie fire”, the state apparatuses are not just busy beating the “spark” down, they are, in fact, trying to hide it or corrupt the vision of the beholders, so that the spark does not seem to be a spark. Even liberal fact finding teams are not allowed to enter the Narayanpatna block of Koraput. The bitter experience of the all-women fact finding team that consisted of prominent civil rights activists from all over India is only symbolic of how brutal the State can become when the question is of safeguarding the interests of capital and its agencies.
It would not be fallacious to say that the situation in Narayanpatna is a clear manifestation of the fascist conjuncture of capitalist development in India. We find a remarkable complementarity between the three wings of the Indian state and its coercive and consensual/ideological apparatuses in maintaining the rhyme and reason of political economic developments. The synergy among various levels of political and bureaucratic institutions and between the state’s repressive components (the local police, the cobra battalions, and civilian stormtroopers like salwa judum in Chhattisgarh) and the Fourth Estate of the hegemonic forces is unprecedented. Anybody who has attempted to organize press conferences in Raipur (the capital of Chhattisgarh) to highlight incidences of state repression is witness to mafia media men shouting at the organisers. All these form the fascio (a bundle of sticks or rods) by which the Indian state rules.
Today, we see entry into Narayanpatna virtually impossible. The police, local exploiters and the private militiamen whom the women’s fact finding team confronted on the 9th of December guard the very entrance of the area. To complement this, the local and to an extent the national media has been playing its role most sincerely projecting the movement as an expression of uncivilized violence, while remaining unabashedly antipathetic to the cause and scope of the movement. When fact finding teams have attempted to unravel the truth, what has happened is in front of our eyes. Hence, we have no news from inside Narayanpatna, except a few statements of the police present there – regarding how many are held or killed etc.
The height of brutality that must be going on in Narayanpatna can only be imagined from what treatment a women’s fact finding team received in the hands of ‘the armed bodies of men’ even after taking the requisite permission from the local authorities to enter the area. Abused and beaten came back a team of civil dignitaries with sincere intentions of finding the ‘neutral’ truth.
The media reports that Nachika Linga, leader of CMAS, who is now in the most wanted list of the government is under the shelter of the ‘Maoists’. It is necessary here to pontificate at the apathy of the media towards any move that has been taken in Bhubaneswar (the capital of Orissa) to empathise with the Narayanpatna movement. About 100 people from various organizations on the 10th of December silently demonstrated in the city’s Master Canteen Square against the issuing of the order to arrest Nachika Linga. This was something that could have been sublime to the media but what instead caught the media’s eyes is the probable alliance of Nachika with the ‘Maoists’. (However, if at all Nachika Linga is protected by the Maoists today, this is more a comment on India’s rule of law and those who see possibilities within it – it proves that the ‘democratic’ voices having faith in the present system are not able to protect people’s self-rule efforts).
Today, the State has militarized the democratic movement of the tribals and landless. To tackle the movement of the landless and the near-landless inside Narayanpatna, there is an already existing State sponsored militia. It is important to clarify that this is a well thought out strategy of the state, by which it demarcates the “limits of legitimation” for any popular collective action. And the state understands that the people have crossed those limits in Narayanpatna.
So war zones are being defined and the “national” media is fast becoming a “nationalist” media – a propaganda machinery to fight the influence of “aggressors”. However, this time, the aggression is from within – the “cattle class” which was bred to be slaughtered threatens the “nation” of the first class. The media in India today gives expressions to the anxieties of the first class, packaging their hallucinations as facts and news reports.
A Zone Of Twisted Law
By Sanjana, Tehelka. Dec 12 2009
If given a map and told this town’s name, chances are you’d find it difficult to spot. Devoted scrutiny would reveal, ultimately, a small two-street settlement in Orissa, about 500 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar, almost astride the border with Andhra Pradesh. There are tens of thousands of remote Indian towns like this but there is a good reason to take a closer look at Narayanpatna.
On the afternoon of November 20, the Indian Reserve Battalion, a paramilitary force stationed at Narayanpatna police station opened fire on 150 Adivasis who had gathered in front of the station. Two people, Wadeka Singanna and Andru Nachika, died; around 60 were injured. The victims were members of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS), an Adivasi rights organisation working in Narayanpatna block. They were protesting against excesses committed by police and paramilitary forces that entered their villages during search and combing operations.
Narayanpatna block (in Orissa, a block is an administrative unit comprising several villages which falls under a tehsil) is a hilly tract of land on the Orissa-Andhra Pradesh border. Almost 90 percent of the 45,000 people who live in the block are Adivasis. For several years, according to the police, the block has witnessed violent attacks by Maoists – informers and contractors have been declared anti-people agents of the state and murdered with impunity and even police stations have been blown up. The November 20 firing, it is clear, took place in an extremely troubled land.
The reasons for the actual firing, however, are less clear. After travelling to the spot, TEHELKA discovered that even nine days after the incident, there was no consensus on the events of that day.
In a press conference two days after the firing, SP Deepak Kumar laid out the official police version: leaders of CMAS broke down the police station gates and confronted Gaurang Sahu, the inspector in charge of the station. Heated arguments followed. At one point in the altercation, the Adivasis snatched a self loading assault rifle and opened fire. In all, 22 rounds were fired, claimed the SP and Sahu was shot in the leg. According to him, the police firing that killed the two CMAS leaders was in self-defence, in retaliation to the firing by the Adivasis.
However, senior district administration officials and a government-appointed lawyer who reached the town a few hours after the firing offered TEHELKA a different account of the day. Off the record, a medical staffer involved in the post-mortem said that the bullet injuries indicated that the two leaders had been shot from behind, along the spine. No bullet injuries were found on their legs, suggesting that the police were shooting to kill, not to incapacitate. Singanna, a key CMAS leader, was shot 14 times, with some of the shots being fired after he fell to the ground. When TEHELKA asked the medical staffer about the injuries sustained by Inspector Sahu, there was silence. In a feeble, nervous voice, he revealed that the injuries were by no means grievous. Ask if the examination of Inspector Sahu’s wounds showed signs of a bullet injury and the staffer tells TEHELKA he wants to be excused. He has a family that depends on him and would like to keep his job, he says. A constable at the police station who, too, refused to identify himself told TEHELKA that the injured inspector declined an offer to airlift him to Visakhapatnam, the nearest major city. The constable admitted, however, that that evening, Gaurang Sahu was limping around.
There are several other unanswered questions. If the Adivasis fired 22 rounds at the police and one bullet hit Sahu, where are the remaining bullets? In a relatively small police station compound, how did the Adivasis who were apparently firing indiscriminately manage to miss the other policemen and IRB forces? Who did they seize the weapon from? The altercation between the Adivasi leaders and the inspector took place in full public view in the station compound, between the gate and the station building. As the station sits on the junction of Narayanpatna’s two main roads, there were plenty of other eyewitnesses besides the CMAS members. Despite this, not one person talks of bullets fired from multiple locations. All accounts state that the bullets – 82 rounds were fired said SP Deepak Kumar at the press conference – came from the roof of the police station. The IRB personnel on the roof allegedly fired at the two leaders and then at the crowd. When TEHELKA contacted Gaurang Sahu, he refused to answer any questions.
THIS REFUSAL by the medical staffers and the police to come on record or even answer any questions is given some perspective when you consider what the Adivasis who were there that day say. Ranju Wadeka says, “We went to the police station to protest against their misbehaviour with women in Dumbagoda and Odipenta villages on November 18 and 19. When we reached the station, we demanded that the inspector in charge come out and talk with us. We waited for half an hour outside the station before four leaders walked through the open gate into the station compound to speak with the inspector. After a brief argument, as the leaders were leaving, the inspector yelled at the forces stationed on the roof to open fire. We saw them shooting down Singanna. After making sure he was not moving anymore, they turned their guns on us.” Ask Wadeka if the Adivasis were armed — even with hatchets or bows and arrows — and he laughs as he says, “If we wanted to kill the police, would we have walked to the police station? They frequently come to our villages for search operations. Wouldn’t it be easier to kill them there?”
The police have since arrested 63 Adivasis and launched a hunt for absconding CMAS leader Nachika Linga. Even as posters offering a reward for information about Linga flood Narayanpatna and the outlying villages, additional police and paramilitary forces have been moved in. With the Special Operations Group and the COBRA force monitoring all movement in the area, this once sleepy hamlet is now a war zone. A climate of fear blankets the entire region. In district headquarters Koraput, about 70 kilometres from Narayanpatna, the local taxi association told TEHELKA that the police had warned them against giving fares to outsiders. Of the six villages that TEHELKA visited in Narayanpatna block, several were deserted. The handful of Adivasi women who had stayed back said the other villagers had fled into the jungles, fearing police harassment and arrests.
IN BHALIAPUT, Linga’s village, ostensibly as “part of search operations” the forces burnt a portion of Linga’s house. When TEHELKA visited the village two days later, the three Adivasis who remained in the village said the police burnt the house after daubing it with enamel paint and dousing it in kerosene. A few metres away from the scorched debris, TEHELKA found tins of paint and an almost-empty kerosene bottle. Also strewn amidst the burnt debris were medicines which had been kept there for the village anganwadi centre, according to the Adivasis. In almost every house in the village, stored food grains had been destroyed by the forces.
Beyond the questions that arise about police excesses, what is perhaps of greater concern is the campaign unleashed days after the firing. Two days after the firing on 20 November, the police dubbed CMAS a Maoist front. Two weeks later, they asked the Home Department to ban CMAS. Supporters of CMAS who attempted to travel to the region have been arrested and called Maoists. (One of the CMAS supporters arrested by the police is Tapan Kumar Mishra, a popular civil rights activist in Orissa. Mishra had even contested the 2009 Assembly elections as an independent candidate. Mishra was hooded and produced before the media.) The police also claimed to have recovered 150 Maoist uniforms, a powerful landmine, 2 kg of highly explosive material and a VHF communication system.
BUT WHAT is the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh? For more than 15 years, the CMAS has been working in Koraput district on two linked issues: the illegal and fraudulent grabbing of Adivasi land and alcohol addiction. With Adivasis’ rights over ancestral land and the prohibition of transfer of land to non- Scheduled Tribes recognised by the Orissa Scheduled Area Transfer of Immovable Property Act and the Orissa Land Regulations Act, the CMAS mobilised Adivasis to take back land that they claim has been unfairly appropriated by nontribals. Before the November 2009 firing, Adivasis told TEHELKA that over 2,000 acres of land had been reclaimed by CMAS.
However, rather than approach the courts or the revenue department for this reclamation, the CMAS in some cases did use violence. It destroyed the houses of non-tribals, including extremely poor Scheduled Caste families. As stories of attacks by CMAS activists spread, many Dalit families left villages of their own accord. TEHELKA met several families who had left for fear of CMAS attacks. Jihoya Kendruka – a man who was driven out of Domsil village by the CMAS told TEHELKA that in May 2009, clashes had broken out over CMAS’ attempts to reclaim land. Kendruka said the clashes left at least one dead and the houses of both CMAS members and those opposing them utterly destroyed.
The main force behind CMAS is Nachika Linga, currently on the police’s most wanted list. Several colourful stories of Linga abound. A man who escaped the shackles of slavery he had endured for 10 years from the time he was 6 years old. A man who used the story of his father’s alcoholism to motivate Adivasis to give up drinking and implement a liquor ban in all villages where the CMAS is active. A man who confronted an irregular anganwadi worker by seating her on a specially decorated cot and carrying her over 6 kilometres back to her house. A man the police say is currently hiding among the Maoists.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time the CMAS has been accused of links with the Maoists. In June 2006, Linga and 3 other leaders were arrested and charged with being a front of the People’s War Group — which merged with the Maoist Communist Centre to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist) — and waging war against the State. The charges were examined and Linga and the CMAS were acquitted in a November 2007 judgment in which GC Panigrahi, Additional Sessions Judge at Jeypore called the CMAS “a silent political movement against exploitation of Adivasis… it has none of the trappings of waging war against the state…” The judge also cautioned against the unwarranted use of the term ‘Maoist’, saying that “in a democratic society, there is elbow room for all shades of opinion. In a democracy, holding meetings, giving public speeches, carrying flags etc. are all part of the game.”
Almost two years later, the charges have resurfaced. Vehement denials have come – even from the Maoists. The CPI (Maoist) says that while they support the CMAS, it is an independent organisation and there is no question of the CMAS or its leaders being part of the Maoists. In effect, the voices of organisations and individuals who agitate for their democratic rights are being silenced through the simple tactic of branding them Maoists. This practice is commonplace in neighbouring Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, states that have emerged as ground zero in the State’s battle against Maoists. However, in Orissa, this tactic is unprecedented.
The Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh (MAS)— another Adivasi organisation fighting fraudulent land alienation — told TEHELKA that arbitrary arrests have become the order of the day in that district. “Like Koraput, the Maoists are active in this district too. We understand that the security forces have to do their work and arrest people behind the various Maoist attacks. But why terrorise innocent Adivasis who have no association with the Maoists?” asks Videsh Goud, a MAS activist who works in the Chitrakonda area of Malkangiri district. They maintain a detailed list of people who have been arrested by the police on charges of being Maoists. In May 2009, a fact-finding team that included the late Dr K Balagopal, VS Krishna and other members of the Andhra Pradesh Human Rights Forum also documented several cases of police excesses. TEHELKA travelled to three villages and spoke to seven families whose men had been taken away by the police and paramilitary forces.
WHAT MAKES the situation in Malkangiri worse is the fact that the anti-Naxal Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh carried out several arrests and illegal detentions with no prior intimation or coordination with the Orissa police. When TEHELKA spoke with Rajesh Chatria, inspector in charge of Chitrakonda police station, about the disappearance of an Adivasi, Sadhuram Khara from a village in his station limits, the inspector admitted that the local police were rarely informed about Greyhound activities. “The procedure is that the local police should be informed and that personnel from the local station should accompany the team. Any arrests should be recorded at the local police station,” says Chatria. He has no answers when it comes to Khara’s disappearance and promises to register a missing person’s complaint. A day after TEHELKA leaves Chitrakonda, Chatria turns Khara’s father away from the station.
In a world overrun by complexities, recognising that different languages of resistance can be spoken simultaneously is a requirement that receives inadequate attention. What is critical, however, is the official acceptance and recognition of the fact that some dialects of protest are not only legal but are basic components of a democratic polity. Instead, the state is dubbing all those who question it — including the Adivasis of remote Narayanpatna and Malkangiri — as Maoists.
(A reporter’s diary at tehelka.com details police attempts to detain, harass and obstruct the TEHELKA team)
At 10 a.m., the All India Women’s Fact Finding Team consisting of 9 women reached Narayanpatna Police Station and requested to meet the Station In-charge.
1. Sudha Bhardwaj, Advocate, Chhattisgarh
2. Mamata Dash, Delhi
3. Madhumita Dutta, Chennai
4. Shweta Narayan, Chennai
5. Rumita Kundu, Bhubaneswar
6. Pramila, Bhubaneswar
7. Kusum Karnik, NFFPFW
8. Ramani, New Democracy, Orissa
9. Durga, Chhattisgarh
We were told that the policeman was busy, and were asked to come in the evening. The person questioning us asked us for names and mobile phone numbers and names of organisations. We gave all of that. We noticed quite a number of uniformed policemen, and many people in plainclothes. None of the people in uniform (we assume they were policemen) had any name tags. We asked one of them who the people in plainclothes were, and were told that they were all policemen. We asked the man how many police were there in this area, and he said more than 2000 police. One striking thing is that none of the many people gathered there were adivasi.
About 20 adivasi men were huddled, squatting inside the police station premises. We asked the police man near us who they were, and were told that the adivasis were former activists of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh, who had come to surrender. This has been happening for a few days now, and many newspapers are reporting this.
By this time, the crowd of so-called plainclothes police were getting restless. We heard people commenting saying: “Ab aa rahen hain. Jab hamarey gaon jal rahe the, tho kahaan the?” (When our farms were being burnt, where were you? Now they show up.)
Madhumita felt the situation was looking troublesome, and suggested we leave. As we were stepping out of the police station, our driver was cordoned off and was being questioned in a very hostile manner and being threatened. We heard someone saying that he is a regular to these parts, and they enquired as to his antecedents.
We somehow managed to extricate the driver. One of the policemen in plainclothes, who we saw inside the police station premises, was taking photographs, and he said “Maaro Inko.” (Beat these people up). That is when more than 200 people surged ahead. The driver was being slapped repeatedly.
Madhu and 75-year old Kusum Karnik tried to intervene and that is when one man went for Madhu’s throat. Kusum was hurt too.
Rumita Kundu was verbally abused inside the police station. One man crudely said that all these women had come to sleep with the men there. Mamta Dash was hit on her back, and abused. One man attempted to strangle Madhu. When she moved to save herself, her jaw was injured. All this happened inside the police station premises.
The driver was the one that was being assaulted most, and we did all we could to extricate him and board our vehicle. By this time, the vehicle was being broken. The rear windscreen was broken. With great difficulty, we fled the area driving towards Bandhugaon. We were followed by the plainclothesmen who claimed to be police on bikes. Somewhere between Bandhugaon Police Station and the village itself, we were stopped by two men in plainclothes.
They said they were police, and they demanded to see the driver’s license. As he was enquiring, about 20 people gathered there. But nothing untoward happened here. We were scared nevertheless.
From there, we proceeded to Kottulpetta. Even before we got to this village, news seemed to have reached them about our visit. A road blockade had been organised, with a bullock cart blocking the road. There were no oxen. The people there, again all non-tribals, pulled out the driver and started assaulting him. They tried to pull down another male colleague of ours, Mr. Poru Chandra Sahu. and tried to beat them up. We intervened, and that’s when Kusum didi, the 75-year old activist, was hurt on her head. We were there for more than 15 minutes. More violence. More damage to the vehicle. More slaps for the driver. Our friends outside had been notified almost as soon as problems began, and phone calls must have been pouring into the Collector and SP’s office.
By this time, two bikes carrying one of the plainclothes “policemen” who had taken our names in Narayanpatna, and another plainclothes guy who was tall and burly, reached there and asked the youth to disperse.
We reached Bondapalli, the border village within Andhra Pradesh. Almost in no time, a jeep load of Andhra Pradesh police along with plainclothes youth (young boys) armed with rifles and bullets arrived on the scene. They demanded to know who we were. We were treated more like criminals than victims, and our vehicle was searched. Only after Madhu spoke to the SP of Vijayanagar, and the DGP were we allowed to go. The police who stopped us immediately changed the tune, and offered to help us with medical assistance etc.
Our experience with armed youth and police has left us clearly terrified, and convinced that the situation created by the police in Narayanpatna and this part of Orissa is extremely vitiated. We have the following concerns and demands which we conveyed to the media at a press conference in Parvathipuram, Vijayanagarm District, Andhra Pradesh.
1. The scenario of terror that we witnessed, and were subject to shows the kind of tense situation prevailing in the Narayanpatna area post November 20, 2009’s police firings in Narayanpatna.
2. There is no access for people to get in and out of the villages in Narayanpatna, with all routes blocked by armed goons.
3. There is no way to get information about what is happening inside, and no means of verifying the very disturbing accounts we are getting about abuses, molestations and violence against adivasi people.
4. The number of plainclothesmen who claimed they were police, and the comfort with which people outside the Narayanpatna police station were interacting with the police, and reacting to one policeman’s instruction to beat us up, suggests that there may be some truth to reports that there is a Salwa Judum style Shanthi Samiti in this area as well. This may either be sponsored or working in close complicity with the police and state.
4. If the Fact Finding team of prominent women has been treated with such violence, it is clear that there is absolutely no room for dissent inside the villages.
5. All the people who attacked us were non-tribals.
1. The officers at the Police Station should be suspended to create an impartial stituation and enable the carrying out of investigations into the firing of 20 November, 2009, and the subsequent reports of atrocities against tribal people.
2. The SP Koraput should be suspended.
3. The Government should constitute a high-level independent investigation team and not depend on the police, who are clearly biased, and are using the language of terror and violence to suppress dissent.
By Satyabrata. Dec 7 2009. Radicalnotes and Sanhati
On the 4th of December, 2009 an order was issued for the immediate arrest of Nachika Linga, leader of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS). He is now in the “Most Wanted” list of the government of Orissa. Posters have been put up by the government throughout Koraput and other regions of southern Orissa displaying a photograph of Nachika Linga and the “crimes” he had committed written underneath. Cash awards have been announced for anyone who helps arrest him. There are about 46 cases in Nachika’s name which include murder, attempt to murder, dacoity etc. Section 302 (punishment for murder) of the Indian Penal Code among other sections has been lodged in his name.
On the 6th of December, the Superintendent of Police, Koraput publicly announced (which he has no legal authority over) that the CMAS should be banned. Here it is necessary to take a bird’s eye view of who Nachika Linga is and what the CMAS has been doing recently.
Nachika Linga is one of the many indigenous tribals who inhabit Narayanpatna. Lately he became the Nayak Sarpanch of his area. Nachika Linga joined the CMAS which was leading the movement for land redistribution. It is necessary here to mention that the movement was never illegal. Even the issues that it raised were broadly related to a proper implementation of the existing laws. To be specific, there is an act passed by the Orissa Legislative Assembly in 1952 (Act 2) which says that the non-tribals cannot keep the lands of tribals in that region, and the CMAS was simply trying to get this law implemented. The authorities of the region till recently were therefore in constant dialogue with the CMAS. In fact, a collector who facilitated this dialogue most sincerely too earned the name so many progressive people are earning now-a-days: Maoist. Due to this movement, the local tribals were able to acquire their lands and the process of collectivization of ownership of land too was started. There were social reform measures taken within the movement, like limiting the consumption of liquor by the tribals to festive occasions only.
Evidently, the landlords and liquor traders who were thriving on land-grabbing, commercialistion of local economy found their ‘businesses’ hampered. They were ‘forced’ to flee the region. In ‘fear’ they joined hands with dominant political forces, and found the police and their actions the only mechanisms to reenter Narayanpatna. Attempting to limit the movement territorially, and to create ‘a civilian’ support base for the state’s brutal measures to suppress the movement in Narayanpatna, they formed ’salwa judum’ like groups in adjoining Laxmipur. As reported earlier, two leaders of CMAS were gunned down and today there is a warrant in the name of Nachika Linga.
The whole organization which was giving an organized and definite shape to the spontaneous resistance of the rural poor in the region stands accused of a conspiracy to wage war against the state. Does it not seem parallel to the draconian measures during the initial days of capitalism everywhere through which the states declared every association of workers and poor as conspiracies? What is happening in India today demonstrates that such measures are not simply historical, but rather constitutive of capitalism – capitalists and their states invoke them every time they find it opportune.
There are press reports that inform about the return of the landlords and traders in the region. How brutal the police force in the region has been and whom in the region it is nepotistic to is no secret. Several tribals in fear of arrest and at gun-point have reportedly ‘committed’ not to indulge in any ‘unlawful’ activities of the CMAS. The clean image of the government of Orissa is being projected by the media at a time when a fascist political economy is being nurtured with its very own hands. Under such conditions, as old Marx would have said, force alone can impregnate this old society with a new one. This force has to make its development and is making its development within and in spite of this authoritarian bourgeois rule in the form of territorially limited movements, which have already nurtured many Birsa Mundas who are daily confronting the brutalities of the state – and Nachika Linga is definitely among them. The final expression of this force shall be in bringing down the authority of this state but that is possible only by generalizing the spirit of struggle beyond localities.
By Satyabrata. Dec 4 2009. Radicalnotes and Sanhati
On the 3rd of December, 2009 there was a general closure of all shops and offices in Athamalik to protest against the arrest of Tapan Mishra. On the 4th of December, a public meeting was organized in Lower PMG Square, Bhubaneshwar by several left groups like CPI(ML)(Liberation), CPI(ML)New Democracy, CPI M-L, Gandhians of Lok Shakti Abijan, Lohia-socialists of Samajbadi Jan Parishad and liberals of Athamalic Sachetan Nagarik Mancha. Human rights activists like Biswapriya and other progressive individuals together with the above groups comprised about 200 protesters. Among the speakers were Com. Jayadev, Com. Sivaram, Com. Bhala Chandra, Prafulla Samantara and Lingaraj. Beginning from the communists and Gandhians to Lohia-socialists and liberals, all of them united in their struggle against the ongoing McCarthyist repression in Orissa in the name of hunting down the Maoists. People who had come from different regions of Orissa reported similar arrests of tribal and dalit leaders in their areas. The protesters unanimously raised their voices against the crushing down of democratic movements in general and that at Narayanpatna. The apathy of the media towards the democratic movements was also discussed.
With already five days past the arrest of Tapan Mishra and with no response from the government after protests against his arrest, a four member delegation, consisting of Saraju Singh Samanta, Pratap Nayak, Mahendra Parida and Pramila Behera submitted a memorandum to the Governor of Orissa which included an unconditional release of Tapan Mishra among other demands.
With the government having turned a deaf ear towards the voices of dissent and using its fully armed machinery to crush them down, it is only creating a passion for destruction, of its own destruction, in the sphere of radical democratic politics and as Bakunin would say, “the passion for destruction is a creative passion too.”
By Satyabrata. Dec 1 2009. Radicalnotes and Sanhati
On the 29th of November, 2009, Tapan Mishra, a democratic political activist who was about to board his train to Narayanpatna from Parvatipuram railway station was arrested by police in civilian uniform. Throughout his life of 42 years Tapan Mishra has been linked to several left groups and has been part of popular dissent movements. He was once a member of AIDSO (All India Democratic Students Organisation), the student wing of the SUCI and the President of the Ravenshaw College Students’ Union. Later he joined the CPI(ML)(Liberation) and was an active participant in the then agrarian struggles and struggles of forest dwellers. Tapan Mishra was the councilor of Athamalic NAC and also contested the last Assembly elections from Athamalic: the later two facts show that he had no strategic ideological compatibility with the CPI(Maoist).
Before leaving for Parvatipuram, he met several press people in Bhubaneshwar and had assured them that he would provide reliable information on what was going on in Narayanpatna. It is also worth noting that Tapan Mishra was a potential leader of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh of Narayanpatna having experience in agrarian and forest dwellers movements. He is also a sympathizer of the Narayanpatna movement and is closely associated with its leadership.
Today, most of the leadership of the Narayanpatna movement is under arrest or is underground. This has been due to the brutal repressive measures that the state government has taken in the region using the police. Nachika Linga, leader of the CMAS, is underground. The police have destroyed his house. Two leaders have earlier been killed in police firing. Anyone like Tapan Mishra who knows the significance of the Narayanpatna movement would be a spontaneous positive contribution to the movement: this, probably, the State knew better than anyone. Tapan has been projected by the police as a ‘hardcore Maoist’ who is in charge of training cadres in military offensive. His arrest has already been linked to the police’s finding of ammunition elsewhere. The police in Narayanpatna are part of the larger nexus of landlords and liquor mafia – it is evident from the way the truth has been distorted by them in general and in Tapan’s case in particular. But what about the government of Orissa (or to be more appropriate the whole bourgeois Assembly as there has been no voice from the opposition also)? The government of Orissa is part of a larger nexus the scope of whose explication is beyond the limitations of this report. Suffice to say that the rulers of Orissa are one of the most authoritarian anti-people lot that gives no space to democratic voice which it apprehends shall, in the long run, bring an end to the brutalities of its nexus. This is precisely the reason why Tapan is being silenced.
By Satyabrata. Nov 29 2009. Radicalnotes and Sanhati
A state-wide 12-hour bandh was observed on the 28th of November (Saturday) in Orissa to protest against the police firing on tribals and to condemn the killing of two Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) leaders in Narayanpatna. The protest demanded an immediate withdrawal of CRPF, Cobra and other paramilitary forces from the region and to grant compensation of 10 lakhs to the family of those dead. Several organizations, including, CPI(ML) (Liberation), CPI(ML) New Democracy, Orissa Forest Mazdoor Sangh, Malkanagiri Adivasi Sangh, CPI M-L, CMAS, Lok Sangram Manch, and many progressive activists took the initiative after the fact finding team on the Narayanpatna incident submitted its report.
On the 28th, several demonstrations were organised in the state, especially in Southern Orissa. There were protest rallies in Koraput. In Rayagada, several people organized by CPI(ML) (Liberation) were arrested for protesting and blocking a road. In Muniguda block, a road block was organized by Lok Sangram Manch. A huge protest demonstration was staged in Matili block of Malkanagiri. Here thousands of tribals came out on streets armed with their traditional weaponry. Four trains, including Rajdhani Express, were stranded at Bhubaneswar railway station for three hours due to the dawn-to-dusk protests.
In spite of state-wide protests, combing operations still continue in Narayanpatna and adjoining regions. Cobra battalions have been sent to adjoining Bandhugaon where activities of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh have throughout been peaceful. Media reports arrests of several ‘Naxals’. Police says ‘peace’ is being restored in the region and that people are no more sympathetic to the movement of CMAS. According to the police, several illiterate tribals have given in ‘writing’ that they won’t support the ‘Sangh activities’ any more. The government of Orissa has least regard for public opinion and the ‘opposition’ is also silent on this issue. They want to retain ‘order’ in the state of Orissa; but where order is injustice, disobedience will inevitably spring up to establish justice.