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Archive for April 19th, 2007

Combing operation intensified at Hilang (Orissa)

Posted by Indian Vanguard on April 19, 2007

DEOGARH: Police have called a public meeting at Hilang on Thursday in a bid to reach out to the people. Talking to this website’s newspaper, Deogarh SP Shafeen Ahmed K said besides hearing people’s grievances the administration will also organise a health camp, folk festival and other entertainment and welfare activities.

The decision was taken after the Naxals observed the first death anniversary of the three Naxalites, who were killed on April 18 last year in Barkhol forest under Ada gram panchayat. About 20 ultras were taking rest in Barkhol forest when they were caught unawares and surrounded by security personnel.

In an exchange of fire that ensued, at least three ultras were shot dead. This was followed by a second encounter on July 3, 2006 when four more ultras were gunned down in Raniguda under Jharagagua gram panchayat of Tileibani block. The Naxals have reportedly decided to construct a memorial to commemorate the death of their colleagues at the site. This decision is being considered as a comeback plan of the Naxals, police said.

Posted in NEWS, Orissa | Leave a Comment »

posco protest trail marks village tracks

Posted by Indian Vanguard on April 19, 2007

Bhubaneswar, April 18: Hundreds of children opposed to the 12 million-tonne steel plant by South Korean steelmaker Posco today marched through the dirt tracks of the villages at the proposed steel plant site, a day ahead of chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s crucial meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the hurdles facing the project.

Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, the outfit that has been spearheading the anti-steel plant agitation since the last two years, has taken a cue from the Ulfa and is planning to put the children in the line of fire during the possible police operation.

The rally began in Govindpur and then headed to Dhinkia, the epicentre of anti-Posco protest in the district. Banners scripting anti-Posco sentiments dotted the rally and slogans like “Milimishi ame Posco tadiba, amabhabishyat ame gadhiba” (Kick out Posco and save our homes and hearths) rent the air. as the children marched through the villages covering a distance of 5 km.

The villages, where the rally was held, were kept out of bounds for policemen, who were stationed about 15 km away at Kujang, as the villagers erected nine bamboo gates to prevent the entry of the police, the district administration and the Posco officials.

Circle inspector of Kujang Anil Mishra said the rally passed off peacefully and no untoward incident was reported.
Sonali Mohapatra, a Class II student of Dhinkia Primary School, participated in the rally and was very enthused. “We will not allow the police and the Posco officials into our villages,” she said.

Others like Sarojini Das, Minati Das, Rajesh Swain, Chintu Swain and Biswajit Das promised to protect their land at any cost. “We are ready to face the bullets as the Banara Sena had done during the freedom struggle,” said Minati.
Addressing the gathering, Abhay Sahu, president of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti and the guiding force of the anti-Posco agitation, called upon the children to fight against the plant project, which would destroy the economy and environment of the area and spell doom for their future as well.

He also urged Manmohan Singh and Naveen Patnaik to withdraw the Posco project for the interest of the 20,000 villagers, mostly farmers and fishermen.Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, on the other hand, pledged that the project will be implemented with “a humane face and in a peaceful way”.

“Posco is the biggest FDI project in the country. It will be pursued with a humane face and in a peaceful manner. Our government has worked out the best relief and rehabilitation policy to address the issues of the local people,” a PTI report said quoting Patnaik.

The Telegraph

Posted in NEWS, Orissa | Leave a Comment »

Mamata wakes up to Naxalite hijack threat

Posted by Indian Vanguard on April 19, 2007

Calcutta, April 18: Mamata Banerjee is trying to distance herself from Naxalites, who were threatening to hijack her movement against land acquisition. She revealed her intent to part ways with the rebels — a regular feature in her road shows and rallies — to some close aides last week when they complained about the Naxalites’ “growing clout” in the Trinamul Congress-led Save Farmland Committee.

The committee was floated during land acquisition for the Tata Motors project in Singur. “We must not allow the Naxalites to flaunt their clout before us. Trinamul is by itself a force to reckon with,” Mamata was quoted as saying.Pushed to the brink of political oblivion after her party’s crushing defeat in last year’s Assembly polls, Singur, Nandigram and the Naxalite supp-ort helped her stage a comeback. “The Naxalites helped her re-establish contact with the grassroots,” a Trinamul leader said.

Although larger Naxalite groups like the CPI(ML) Liberation and the CPI(ML) led by Kanu Sanyal are not with Mamata, four smaller ones played an active role in the land war. They were responsible for many of the guerrilla attacks on the fencing — uprooting posts and setting it on fire — around the Tata plot in Singur. From the anti-acquisition movement, the focus of the Singur agitation shifted to law and order, thanks to the violence.

Mamata refused to share a platform with the Naxalites at an anti-acquisition rally at Esplanade on Friday. Her “disenchantment” with the direction in which the rebels had steered her movement became apparent when she said that day she was opposed to the bid to pull down the Tata fence. The Trinamul chief has also sent directives to party functionaries in the districts to see to it that Trinamul is not perceived to be anti-industry.

“With the panchayat polls only a year away, we can’t afford to rub shoulders with the Naxalites,” a Trinamul leader said. “Our links with them will spell bring disaster in the polls since most people are scared of the extremists and do not trust them,” he added. Naxalite leaders admitted that political compulsions have strained Mamata’s “association” with them.

“She has to keep her own political identity intact. She does not want to be branded pro-Naxalite despite being keen on taking our help to resist land acquisition,” said Purnendu Bose of the West Bengal State Organising Committee of CPI(ML). Another rebel leader said Mamata has adopted a calculated ploy of maintaining equi-distance from the Naxalites and the state BJP. “She is with the NDA at the national level, but not in the state where the Jamait Ulema-i-Hind is part of her movement. In the same way, she is very much with the Naxalites, but doesn’t want to let them steer the course.”

The Telegraph

Posted in Bengal, NEWS | Leave a Comment »

The new battles

Posted by Indian Vanguard on April 19, 2007

Last week, at Jagatsinghpur near Paradip port in Orissa, a tense stand-off developed between 12 platoons of the state armed police and 4000 families belonging to three gram panchayats located in the middle of the proposed project area for the 12 million tonne steel-making complex of the South Korean steel giant, POSCO.

The villagers are resisting the acquisition of their land for the project and have erected bamboo barricades and even cut off an embankment road to prevent the police from entering the area. The MOU for the project was signed two years ago and Posco is now chafing at the leash at the delay.

However, fearing a Nandigram-like replay, the state government is reluctant to take any direct action against the agitators. It may come as no surprise if POSCO ultimately opts out of the Indian project and takes the Rs55,000 crore investment to another country. Orissa, incidentally, is ruled by the Biju Janata Dal.

Political parties looking on with unconcealed glee at the discomfiture of the CPM-led government in West Bengal following the Nandigram SEZ debacle may soon have to shed their grins. For, this isn’t the first time in our country that rural landowners and the police have clashed violently over land acquisition proceedings. As the above instance shows, it won’t be the last either.

Way back in December 2000, policemen deployed at the site of the Utkal Alumina International Ltd in Orissa had to open fire on a crowd of tribals protesting the acquisition of their land for the mines of the company. Three persons died. That project, which was given the green signal by the then Congress-ruled state government as far back as 1993, has never got off the ground.

In February this year, 15 people were injured when tribals in Lohandiguda village in Jharkhand attacked a government team which had come to survey land to be acquired for another Tata steel project. Jharkhand is governed by a BJP-led coalition.

As the examples quoted above make amply clear, the Nandigram fracas is but one pixel of a bigger kaleidoscope. And the contagion is rapidly spreading. The fight is not about SEZs alone. It is a part of a greater war that is being fought across the country. Ranged on the two sides in this war are the forces of stasis and development.

On the side of stasis is a motley group comprising NGOs, opportunist politicians, academic intellectuals, and Leftist insurgents. On the side of development are arrayed the state and Central governments, politicians, administrators, industrial establishmentsand others.

In this war, during the early decades after Independence, the forces of development were strong and the land needed for giant industrial, infrastructure and irrigation projects could be acquired without much fuss. However, the last two decades has seen the balance of power shift to the forces of stasis. This has come about due to fragmentation of political power, enactment of more stringent environmental legislation, increased foreign funding of NGOs leading to strengthening of their organisations, and, of late, the spread of the Naxal network.

Aiding and abetting them is a mainstream media which revels in being anti-establishment. On the other hand, the forces of development have become weak due to rampant corruption in the body politic as well as in the administration, and the entry of entrepreneurs who have no sensitivity to social issues.

If allowed to continue, this war can debilitate the economy of the nation in the future. The solutions are there for all to see: market rate compensation for land acquired, employment guarantee in the project for one person from each displaced family, setting up of industrial training institutes near large project-affected areas, levying a special development cess on all commercial and industrial turnover — the proceeds of which should directly be channelled for improving social infrastructure in rural areas — establishing state-subsidised financing for small and tiny enterprises such as vehicle maintenance, tyre repair, catering, retailing, transport, schools and clinics which will come up as adjuncts to the main industrial projects and result in considerable indirect employment of displaced persons. Involving local NGOs in many of these activities, especially social infrastructure projects, would make them partners and not antagonists in the war and defuse to some extent the lure of insurgency.


Posted in NEWS, Orissa | Leave a Comment »

"we will not need the outside support of the Naxals. We ourselves will become Naxals" Kalinga Nagar people

Posted by Indian Vanguard on April 19, 2007

Jaipur/Orissa: The Naxals have moved out of the forests of Southern Orissa, and are now targeting the state’s growing industrial hubs including the Kalinganagar and the Chromite Mines of the Sukinda valley.

Five hundred Naxals s are reportedly active in Orissa using local criminals to extort money from mine owners and contractors.”We are told not to mention the name of Naxals in our operation as they have threatened to kill us. If we collect an amount of Rs three lakhs for the Naxal leaders we get a share of around Rs 25, 000,” says a local gang leader.

The Naxals found their issue at Kalinganagar a year ago when 13 tribals were killed in police firing over land acquisition protests. The Naxals are now extending their full support to the displaced tribals.”If the government keeps exploiting us like this then we will not need the outside support of the Naxals. We ourselves will become Naxals,” says president, Bistaphan Birodhi Manch, Chakradhar Haiburu.

The Orissa government hopes to wean displaced tribals away from the Naxals by starting fresh discussions with them, and at the same time dealing firmly with the Naxals.”We have information that the Naxals are extorting money in this area. We will firmly take action against them whenever we get information and give protection to the people there,” says Home Secretary, Orissa, Tarun Kanti Mishra.

However, trade union leaders allege that industry and mine owners flout many laws themselves so they rarely approach the police for help” When they themselves are at fault, they do not have courage to lodge complain against the Naxals who project themselves as pro workers,” says trade union leader, Sukinda, Mayadhar Nayak.

Rehabilitation and resettlement remains the biggest challenge of the Orissa government as it industrialises the state.Until they resolve the issue with integrity, the Naxals will find plenty of support in these emerging industrial areas.


Posted in NEWS, Orissa | Leave a Comment »