People’s Movements in Orissa Face Political Repression
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People’s Movements in Orissa Face Political Repression

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John Ahni Schertow
January 10, 2007
 

By Saswat Pattanayak
Radical Notes

One year ago, on January 2, 2006, I was in Orissa covering the most barbaric and shameful epoch in the aftermath of Kalinga Nagar incidents. 12 tribals were murdered by the Orissa state police, because they were protesting against the illegal, and inhuman encroachment of their sweet little homes by a profit-mongering private industry giant. As many as 13 industrial plants had been declared to be set up in Kalinga Nagar itself, resulting in evacuation of thousands of indigenous people from their own lands, sans adequate compensations, relocation benefits, education or healthcare assurances, let alone alternative residences. Countless people were left in the lurch because one private company got greedier and bought the conscience of few dozens of political opportunists. And when the people were told that their villages were going to be leveled –meaning, their carefully worshiped houses were to be razed off the grounds without seeking any of their approvals, some tribals thought they should protest.

After all, it was through constant revolutionary struggles of the common masses, that Orissa had been wrested from its kings and the colonialists to emerge as the first independent province formed on linguistic basis in modern India’s history.

Right to self-determination has been inherent in Orissa’s history–from the ages of the Kalinga War to the days of Kalinga Nagar. Just the way, the Kalinga War was fought with bloodbath, Kalinga Nagar met the similar fate. Entirely innocent people, yet valiant and brave, unarmed to fight the ancient and modern emperors, protested for sure, and paid the price.

It has been an annual ritual in Orissa, economically one of the poorest states of India. Its working class people doubly oppressed – by the military-industrial nexus of the government in power, and by the educated and elite section of its own population that dance to the tunes of opportunism and betray the poor people’s causes.

Despite the odds, when tribals staged a non-violent protest, the police state, under obligation from industry pimps, opened fire and murdered them mercilessly. And this, despite the very fresh memories of killings of tribals in Rayagada done under the same BJP-BJD regime led by Naveen Patnaik.

Sitting pretty on his father and Orissa’s ex-Chief Minister Biju Patnaik’s land-grabbing anti-people legacies, Naveen has been the most ruthless curse on a peaceful people. Enacting personality politics to project Biju as a savior, the current CM has been turning massive onslaughts on every form of criticism that exists in the state today, with an inherited arrogance that has rare parallel. He completes his troika of misfortunes, after Kashipur and Kalinga Nagar, with his approval of Vedanta Alumina Project at Lanjigarh.

continued at countercurrents.org

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