Orissa – An update on repression in Niyamgiri

April 14, 2011

by Surya Shankar Dash (Source – Save Niyamgiri)

News is coming from Lanjigarh that a man was killed day before yesterday in a mysterious manner. The man has been identified as a villager from Chatrapur and some people claim he was murdered by company men. The company is claiming that the man was run over by one of the company’s trains. Since yesterday local people have been protesting at the refinery.

Also, Aruna Chandrasekhar has informed about the arrest of a worker in K.Singhpur, after being implicated as a Maoist informer. Abhimanyu Bhotra s/o Kusumani Bhotra was picked up by plain clothes police from outside a temple in Kalyansinghpur, Rayagada Dist. at 5 pm yesterday, charged with being a Maoist informer. Sources that tried to contact him say that he was being interrogated in Hindi- implying that the police force is from outside the area, and is most likely the CRPF. An FIR has been filed at the Kalyansinghpur police station.

Abhimanyu, age 35, is a Schedule Caste migrant labourer from Parsali village, Rayagada Dist.; locals testify that he has no connections whatsoever to the cadre. He is the sole breadwinner in a family of seven- his parents, wife Sutali Bhotra, two sons, ages 14 and 5, and two daughters, ages 8 and 9.

Abhimanyu’s arrest marks the renewal of an disturbingly familiar pattern to weaken dissent in the area. Combing operations have been stepped up over the last month in the districts bordering the Niyamgiri Hills- men have been threatened with being branded Maoists, adivasi women told to keep out of the forest, and Vedanta has allegedly sponsored an indoctrination feast for para-militaries. All of this is, just as the Odisha Govt. moves the Supreme Court to challenge the revoking of Vedanta’s mining license and suspension of its hugely ambitious expansion project, which, if resumed will cause unspeakable amounts of pollution and tax the already polluted water sources in the area.

Human rights activists and journalists are requested to pick up on the story.