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Kalinganagar (Orissa, India): Street blockade Continues/ Solidarity needed !

Dear friends,

As you may be aware, after the police firing in Kalinganagar on 2nd January, 2006, in which 13 Adivasis were murdered to facilitate land acquisition by TATAs, the Tribals of Kalinganagar imposed a road blockade on the Daitary-Paradeep National Highway asking that their demands for justice be met. This Blockade has continued till now. Initially the road was completely blocked but for the last six months, the blockade is applicable only to the mineral laden trucks and Government officials vehicles. The Blockade allows all other vehicles to ply except these trucks.

Based on a PIL, the Orissa High Court asked the Government to lift this blockade by March 9th, as it was posing problems for common citizens. During the hearing of this PIL, the petitioner (apparently sponsored by mining companies) and the Government of Orissa cleverly hid the fact that the blockade by the Kalinganagar tribals allowed all other traffic except mining trucks and govt. vehicles, and that in fact there was no inconvenience faced by local people who wanted to travel by the Highway.

Negotiations on lifting were held between the Chief Minister, Naveen Pattnaik and the Bisthapan Birodhi Janamanch, Kalinganagar in which the tribals agreed to lift the blockade provided some of their demands were met. However, the Bisthapan Birodhi Janamanch has accused the Government of Orissa of reneging on its promises (please see their letter below) and have refused to lift their blockade unless the demands are met, notwithstanding the High Court's order.

A letter by Bisthapan Virodhi Janamanch as given below explains their stance. One finds that they have taken a reasoned and democratic stance, leaving the door open for negotiations.

However, the Government, using the plea of the High Court order, have decided to use force to remove the blockade, and has sent 50 platoons of armed police to Kalinaganagar for this purpose. A coterie of bureuacrats and senior police officers, who are influenced by the mining mafia of Orissa, are behind this decision to use force; and the political leadership is going along. The Government will use force which will lead to avoidable bloodshed, as the tribals of Kalinganagar will not give way in the face of repression. The tribals have vowed to resist any use of force by the State Administration.

The situation has become very urgent as it is expected that the Government will try to forcefully lift the blockade today. On their part, the tribals of Kalinganagar have also started congregating near the road blockade. This situation could have been easily avoided by the State Government which could have requested the High Court to further extend the deadline for removing the blockade in view of the ongoing political negotiations. It seems that the same "let us teach the tribals a lesson" syndrome of the Orissa bureaucracy, which had led to the Kalinganagar Killings last year is again in operation.

We request you to kindly urgently take up the matter with the Chief Minister of Orissa through Fax and email asking him to restrain the buearucracy from precipitating a deliberate confrontation with Kalinganagar people. Please ask him to continue the political dialogue and to place the true facts about the blockade (that it allows all passenger traffic to go through) in front of the High Court of Orissa, and to refrain from using force to lift the blockade, as that would inevitably lead to bloodshed.

The Fax no of the Chief Minister is 0674-2535100/ 2590833 and his email is

Independent Media

Kalinganagar, Sukinda, Dist.: Jajpur

6 March 2007

To: Shri Naveen Pattnaik

Chief Minister, Government of Orissa


Sub: Follow up on the Discussions Held on 31st January 2007
Regarding Kalinganagar Anti-Displacement Movement

Respected Chief Minister,

The initiative of the Chief Minister to continue the political dialogue with representatives of the Bistapan Birodhi Janmanch, Sukinda is a welcome initiative. For the 31 st January 2007 meeting with the Chief Minister and his team of officials the agitating people of Kalinganagar had sent their representatives with an open mind so as to put forward the logic behind all the seven demands of the movement and understand the views of the government on each of the 7 demands. However, it was frustrating to find that neither the representatives of the Bistapan Birodhi Janmanch, Sukinda were allowed to place their views on the 7-point demands clearly nor the Government placed its views. Further, it was mentioned by the Chief Ministers' team that all the demands cannot be agreed upon and the Government did not consider it necessary to clarify as to which demands are acceptable and which are not.

The Government did not agree to suspend the then collector, SP and the ADM on the plea that the inquiry commission is already looking into the matter. Although we reminded the Chief Minister that suspension is not a punishment according to the service rules of the officials concerned and there is no connection between suspension and the inquiry commission and that there is several precedence of suspension in such situations it was unfortunate to find that the Government tried its best to shield its officers.

However there were some positive developments from the meeting. The Chief Minister and his team of officials agreed to do the following:

The Orissa Government would publish a white paper on the industrialisation and displacement in Kalinganagar

The Orissa Government to consider increasing the compensation amount for the families of the Martyrs from Rs.10 lakhs to Rs. 20 lakhs per family and also grant appropriate assistance to the families such as providing jobs for the adult members of the concerned families.

The Orissa Government would revise the injured list to include those who have been left out.

Till seven demands of the Kalinganagar Movement are properly discussed with the Bistapan Birodhi Janmanch, Sukinda and a final decision is arrived at, the TATA Company shall not be permitted to enter into the area and carry out any activities. The TATA Company would be immediately instructed to stop all such activities including obtaining the consent of villagers to shift out of the villages under duress, deceit & bribing, survey work, etc. The Orissa Government shall continue the political dialogue with the representatives of the Bistapan Birodhi Janmanch, Sukinda at the highest level.

The Orissa Government shall hand over parts of bodies found missing with adequate identification (if required after DNA testing)

The Orissa Government shall carry forward the process of lifting of all the cases filed against the agitators and leaders of the Bistapan Birodhi Janmanch, Sukinda on an expeditious basis.

In spite of the fact that the Government at the highest level has so far not taken the demands of the Kalinganagar movement seriously as is evident from the first two paragraphs of this letter the Bistapan Birodhi Janmanch, Sukinda wishes to continue the dialogue at the highest level and is happy that the Government has agreed to do certain things as has been elaborated at paragraph-3 above. Therefore the representatives of Bistapan Birodhi Janmanch, Sukinda mentioned during the 31 st January 2007 discussions that they would consider lifting of the road blockade after receiving in writing the commitments given in this regard and after placing such written commitment of the government in front of the people of Kalinganagar.

It is further disturbing to note that the TATA company continues with its activities in the Kalinganagar area in the form of construction of houses and the Government is also carrying out activities for the proposed Steel Plant of the TATAs like issuing notice to villagers to shift to rehabilitation colony, allotting TATAs additional land, etc. This is against the letter and spirit of what was agreed on 31 st January 2007 discussions It is disturbing to notice that the District officials of Jajpur are indulging in pressurising us to lift the blockade. The SP of Jajpur has gone to the extent of threatening me of police action to lift the blockade. We had brought to the notice of the Chief Minister regarding such statements by the SP in our letter dated 13 th January 2007. You would remember the SP, Jajpur tried to frighten us even during the 31st January 2007 meeting in your presence and we had taken strong exception to such behaviour. If a senior official of the Government displays such an attitude continuously then the people of Kalinganagar cannot be blamed in the future. The cause of the Government will be better served if the SP, Jajpur is asked to restrain himself

At the behest of Collector, Jajpur we did have a meeting yesterday( 5.3.07) with the collector, Jajpur and agreed to consider to lift the blockade in principle. However after discussion with the members if the Bistapan Birodhi Janmanch, Sukinda today the following things have emerged:

The Collector, Jajpur has violated the spirit of the commitment given by the Chief Minister, Orissa during the discussion on 31st January 2007 meeting regarding the stoppage of work by the TATA Company as he has instructed the TATA Company not to undertake any activity till the completion of the political discussion at the highest level.

The agitating people of Kalinganagar have demanded that the Commitments given during the 31st January meeting should be given in writing by the CM's office and the writing by the Collector would not help the matter.

After receiving the written commitments from the CM's Office we will take appropriate steps for lifting of the blockade.

The Government should honour its commitments and continue the political dialogue at the highest level. There is scope for breaking the stalemate within the parameters of what has been agreed by the Chief Minister and his team on 31 st January 2007. From our side we may also take additional steps to make the dialogue fruitful for both sides. It is for the Government to take the initiative and carry forward the dialogue process. It would be totally undemocratic to adopt any highhanded means while the political dialogue process is very much alive.

Date for the next discussion should be immediately fixed. Before the discussion is held the Government should prepare a detailed note on its views on each of the seven demands of the Bistapan Birodhi Janmanch, Sukinda with supporting arguments and information and provide the same to Bistapan Birodhi Janmanch, Sukinda in advance. If required we are prepared to place our detailed views on the seven demands and related matters with supporting logic and information.

We look forward to hearing from the Chief Minister as regards the date of the next discussion. We look forward for the written commitments from the Chief Minister's Office on what was agreed on 31 st January 2007 meeting and as has been mentioned at paragraph-7 above. We look forward from the Government to take all other steps as has been mentioned above.

With regards,

On Behalf of Bistapan Birodhi Janmanch, Sukinda

Rabindra Jarika


CC To :

The Collector, Jajpur : With a request to forward the original letter to the Chief Minister's Office and to co-ordinate with the CM's office to receive the commitments in writing at the earliest so as to take steps to lift the blockade.

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