The on going peaceful and democratic peoples' movements in the state have been shocked by the fact that one of the main pillars of our democracy, the judiciary has joined the sides of the corporations who are desperate to grab the resources that has been sustaining the life of millions of peasants, tribals, fishermen and forest dwellers only to maximize their own profit. As a consequence of the plunder of natural resources, which is being done in the name of development under the patronage of the state in Orissa, the people surviving on those resources such as land, water and forest for generations are living now under constant threats of displacement and deprivation. In the name of investment in the state, all foreign and Indian companies are gradually taking control over those precious resources. The state government and the mainstream opposition parties of the state are actively supporting such a loot process. The on going peoples' movements of the state have been opposing such a plunder even though they don't receive any moral support from mainstream political parties even in situations where they have lost their fighter friends in police firing or company sponsored violence. Be it Kalinganagar or Dhinkia or Kashipur or Niyamgiri or Keonjhar the ordinary villagers, tribals, farmers and forest dwellers have put up a brave fight against all odds in order to save their land and livelihood. The revolutionary and progressive political forces have stood very firmly with the ant-displacement struggles. Now when the State is trying to use judiciary to help the corporations and repress the struggles, it becomes our fundamental duty to expose the nexus between the state and profit making companies without understanding which people may not appreciate the genuine demands of the on going peoples' struggles.
Who are the people in such movements?
The State along with a section of media who are corporate friendly has been doing systematic campaigns against people and their leaders in Kanlinganagr, Anti-Posco struggles, Vedanata Virodhi agitation in Niyamgiri and Puri, Anti-land acquisition struggles in Kashipur and Keonjhar etc. But who are they? They are the tribals whom till the other day the state called simple and innocent. They are the forest dwellers for whom the state is claiming to have made many policies. They are the peasants and fishermen who put in hard work to make a living in the agricultural fields or water resources. They are the landless workers who constantly remind us that the state has not only abandoned Land reforms but it also has abandoned them. Now they are branded as 'anti-development', 'Maoists' or people creating 'lawlessness'. Not only killing by police firing, unlawful arrests implicating the leaders and activists of such movements in false and fabricated cases have also become commonplace. But now since nothing is working on the people, they have found the High Courts and the Supreme Court of the country to do miracles for them so that the loot of resources and the oppression of the genuine struggles gets the approval of the " people' who are yet to loose faith in such institutions.
What The Apex Court Has Done in Vedanta vs Niyamgirir Case?
Niyamgiri which is regarded by the locals as Dongria Kondh Country and is home to 7987 primitive dongria tribes and is also known for its rich biodiversity, dense forest, wild animals and perennial water streams leading to formation of two big rivers of South Orissa was targeted for mining by Anil Agrwal's Vedanta Alumina in 2002. Without any forest and environmental clearance Vedanta started its work. Since the Nabin Pattnaik government was party to the crime, some friends of the people approached the Centrally Empowered Committee ( CEC )of Supreme Court to save Niyamgiri. The CEC had been formed to guide the Apex Court on forest matters since the Judges did not have the wisdom and expertise on the subject. The expert members of the CEC personally visited Niyamgiri and were shocked to see its rich biodiversity, which had been suppressed by the state forest department and Vedanta. They recommended to stop mining in Niyamgiri and also to stop Vedant's Lanjigarh alumina factory until the company does not get assurance of raw materials from anywhere else other than Niyamgiri. But the Forest Bench of Supreme Court in its two year long hearing over CEC recommendations never took seriously the recommendations and observations of CEC on Niyamgiri. The Court mainly relied on Vedanta and its patrons the state and central governments and defined what the Judges thought development should mean and handed over Niyamgiri to Vedanta. The damage that the Judges did to Indian democracy is irreparable. No person having a conscience will accept this verdict. The Dongrias have rejected the verdict. For them Niyamgiri is everything, not only a secured source of livelihood. Who has given the authority to the Court to define development? Do they have the power to decide the fate of Niyamgiri and the Dongrias? Why have they ignored the wisdom of their own expert committee? Is Vedanta so powerful that even it can buy the Indian judiciary? Will the people allow such a nexus of Judges, Companies, bureaucrats and politicians to ruin the country's precious resources and the people living on it? These are the questions that should be worrying us. But the struggling people of the country will never allow it happen.
Not only Vedanta, Posco has also been allowed to take the benefit of converting forest land for non forest use by the same Supreme Court though again its CEC has strongly recommended against it.
The people of Orissa are also aware of the fact that The High Court of Orissa has fined one of the leaders of the Kalinganagar anti-displacement movement against the Tatas because they were protesting the killing of 14 of their friends in police firing on a National High Way. A company sponsored petition was heard and the Judges thought the cause of the death of a child was not the disease that affected him but because there was a road blockade on the National highway which prevented vehicle movement. There was no hearing of views from the peoples' side. It was a unilateral hearing and judgment. The same Judges voluntarily got down from their vehicles while going to the Court when the Sangha Parivar had given a bandh call protesting the killing of Laxmananada on 25th August 2008 and did not think proper to punish the people who had given the call and put life in the entire state to a complete halt.
Undemocratic Arrests and Oppression
The leaders of all the peoples's movements have been falsely implicated in several cases. The police everywhere are openly taking support from the companies involved in the area even to run the police stations, vehicles and telephones and the result is repression on the people opposing land acquisition and displacement. Recently on 12th October 2008, the leader of the anti-posco struggle in Jagatsinghpur was arrested when he was returning after recovering from a complex of diseases for which he was hospitalized in a place which was not disclosed for security reasons. Several other activists of the movement had been arrested earlier.The Kashipur movement had once faced the worst kind of repression in the last 20 years. The persons who worked as agents of Utkal Alumina while they were serving as collector and SP are now posted in Jagatsinghpur. It is part of the state strategy to appoint officers with track records of unleashing repression in the new districts where anti-displacement struggles are coming up.
What Do we Do Now?
The Tatas in Kalinganagr, the Posco in Jagatsingpur, the Vedanta in Lanjigarh and Puri, the Mittals in Keonjhar, the UAIl in Kashipur, the Jindals , the Bhusans, the Reliance, the Titanium and other power projects have already captured the bureaucracy, political leaders, police and part of media. Now they seem to have also own over the judiciary. The 36 million people of the state who have been or might become victims of such a mad industrialization will not tolerate this design of the imperialist forces by remaining just as mute spectators. The peoples' movements in Orissa would like to tell everyone in clear words that any undemocratic move to dislodge them from their land and livelihood will be opposed tooth and nail. They have already paid the price and they are prepared to pay more if situation so demands. The revolutionary and progressive political forces will continue to support their struggle for survival, justice and dignity.
We call upon all conscientious citizens of the state to be critically aware of the growing pro-company and anti-people steps of the state including the use of judiciary to advance corporate interests and to demolish genuine struggles of the suffering people. If they don't support the struggles now, tomorrow they will be no where.
(CPI-ML New Democracy)
Lingaraj (Samajvadi Jan Parishad)
( Loka Shakti Abhijan)
Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti
Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Niyamgiri Surakshya Sangram Juba Bahini
Bisthapan Birodhi Jana Mancha
Mittal Birodhi Manch
Bhubaneswar Basti Surakshya Manch
Naraj Tata Prakalp Birodhi Sangram Manch
Jeevan Jivika Sangram Manch
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