Human Rights

Politics of fake encounter in Odisha


Dandapani Mahanty
janabadi[@]rediffmail[.]com

Odisha (Orissa) is full of mountains and hills containing a substantial quantity of nation’s wealth of minerals. Odishas resources vis-a-vis India’s total mineral resources are 25% (coal), bauxite (50%), chromites (98%), iron (27%), nickel (91%), in addition to many other minerals. exploitation of these mineral deposits is taking place legally as well as illegally at an increasing speed, causing large-scale evictions of tribals, dalits and poor peasants from their lands, and pollution of forests, rivers, mountains etc. In the so-called process of development, masses are denied access to the forests and forest produces, affecting their livelihood as well as causing ecological disturbance. The plundering of natural resources by the national and multi-national companies in the name of mineral-based industries is not accepted by the people of the state and this has resulted in militant mass movements in different parts of the state.

54 MoUs have been signed with national and multinational companies by the Odisha government to allow the loot of the natural resources and minerals. If the said schemes are implemented, around 110,000 hectares of agricultural land, 10,000 hectares of forest land and 50,000 hectares of grazing land will be affected and lakhs of poor people will be displaced from their hearth and home. Since long, people are raising their voice and organizing resistance against the anti-people projects in the name of “development”. From Baliapal to Gopalpur, Gandhamardan to Kasipur, Dhinkia to Niyamgiri, Kaling Nagar to Narayanpatna, everywhere the oppressed poor, mainly the tribals, are organizing themselves against the state-patronized exploitation and conspiracy, which opens the doors for the corporate, and multinationals to loot the natural resources. Different forms of resistance movement are going on including armed struggle led by CPI (Maoist) party. Instead of addressing the fundamental political economic issues of the masses, the state has been persistently resorting to terrorism to suppress the dissenting voice.

Fundamental issues like life and livelihood of masses are treated as law and order problems by the state and the state security forces including Border Security Force, CRPF etc. In the process of state terrorism more than 700 people have been imprisoned and most of them are under-trials languishing in jails for years together. Custodial violence including death in the custody has become a policy of the state. Gang rape of tribal women in custody is also not uncommon in Odisha. The complaint of a gang rape victim was not properly inquired into by the judicial magistrate of R. Udaygiri in spite of mandatory provision under section-176(1-A) of code of criminal procedure.

In the name of combing operation, security forces have obtained a license to kill any person under the cover of encounter with the Maoists. It has become a general practice in our state that when an innocent person is killed by the police bullets, the police concocts a story that the person was a Maoist who died in an encounter. Very recently, between 28 December 2010 to 12 January 2011, twenty innocent persons including ten women were killed by the security forces in the name of encounter with the Maoists. Since militant mass movements are continuing in Kaling Nagar, Kashipur, Niyamgiri and Gandhamardan areas, the state has adopted encounter as a method to create a reign of terror in the said areas to suppress the mass movements and to serve corporate interests.

It is not out of place to mention that although a number of so-called encounter incidents have occurred in the tribal areas of the state, in no case an independent and credible enquiry has been ordered by the state government. In only one case, a victim lady of village Birubai under Rayagada district made a complaint before the state human rights commission that her husband was killed on 7 July 2006 by the security forces in a fake encounter. The commission decided the case in her favour and came to the conclusion that the husband of the victim was killed by the police in a fake encounter. But the recommendation of the Commission regarding action against the responsible police officer is yet to be implemented.

I have reason to believe that there are only four cases of exchange of fire (encounter) between the arms squads of the Maoists and security forces during the period of 2004-2011 and these took place in Koraput, R Udaygiri, Gasama and Damanjodi while all other cases are fake encounters which require free, fair and credible investigation after registration of criminal cases in the respective police stations.

The author is General Secretary, Odisha Forest Mazdoor Union

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-28 February 2011 on page no. 11

We hope you liked this report/article. The Milli Gazette is a free and independent readers-supported media organisation. To support it, please contribute generously. Click here or email us at sales@milligazette.com

blog comments powered by Disqus