On November 23 a fact-finding team comprising intellectuals and activists from several organisations visited Narayanpatna to inquire about the killing of the adivasis. The team had to face difficulties in entering the region and members of the team were harassed and even beaten up by the police, as one of the team members reported in the press conference held today (November 25). The following is the report of the team released during the press conference.
REPORT OF THE FACT-FINDING TEAM
Salwa Judum in Narayanpatna when rest of Orissa sleeping
Planned murder of Singhana by police, land grabbers celebrating
Bauxite miners, landlords, mafia, police unleash reign of terror
Who is with the people when naveen is with miners, ask people?
A team consisting of representatives of peoples’ organizations that visited Narayanpatna on 23rd of November 2009 after the killing of two members of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh spearheading the movement for restoration of tribal lands from non tribal land grabbers on 20th of November 2009 by paramilitary police of the state in pretext of self defence has come across shocking evidences which are unacceptable in a democracy guided by a constitution and established acts and laws. The team at the outset would like to state here categorically that
1. The killing of K. Singana a top ranking leader of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh along with Andrew Nachika was a well thought out murder executed by the state police with the help of IRB and CRPF and it was not an act of self defence.
2. The killing of Singana was preceded by a series of house to house raids in the villages in Narayanpatna area in which the men had been tortured and the women humiliated and sexually abused.
3. The Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh had brought the matter to the notice of the OIC of Narayanpatna Police Station who had given them the assurance that the combing operation in search of Maoists was not targeted against them and he would personally supervise and ensure that no member of the Sangh is harassed.
4. Since the OIC did not keep his words and atrocities continued the Sangh leaders had gone to the PS with only one intention of asking the OIC why he breached the trust and to take the ‘foreign’ security forces back to the barrack.
5. The number of people assembled outside the PS was hardly one hundred and some of them carried their conventional weapons which is an accepted tribal habit in the region.
6. The firing started when K.Singana was inside the PS and discussing with the OIC and as soon as he came out of the PS he was targeted and killed. His dead body was then dragged into the PS.
7. More than 60 rounds of ammunitions fired killing K.Singana and Andrew Nachika and injuring 25 others some of them critically wounded.
8. Plain cloth policemen and local landlords were roaming around jointly and identifying tribal leaders who were tortured by them before they landed up in police custody.
9. Those sustained critical bullet injury don’t receive any medical attention as there is fear of arrest and torture by police.
10. Salwa Judum type squads formed and anyone visiting the region is tortured and humiliated with active patronage and support from the local OIC.
11. Budha Gamang, veteran tribal leader and President of Lok Sangram Manch, taking part in the funeral of Singana was beaten up by police. Com. Sivaram of CPI-ML and other leaders faced humiliation in the hands of police and ‘Salwa Judum’ team.
12. Most of local media persons are operating from Narayanpatna Police station. Fair reporting is a remote possibility as most reporters are also a part of the land grabbing communities.
13. Repression against the democratic mass movements is going to increase in coming days and there is no sane voice available to protest. The victimised tribals have been left out uncared and isolated.
14. The land grabbers are getting reorganised in the form of peace committees with active support of police and ruling party leaders.
15. The police was restless as Narayanpatna had become a litigation free police station with no cases registered by tribals against anyone which happened mostly because tribals had given up liquor and tribals were looking after their own welfare collectively.
16. The landlords and traders were restless because the organised tribals had taken back their land occupied by them.
17. The mining company and its potential beneficiaries were restless because the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh had organised conventions declaring that no Mali (bauxite rich mountains) in the area shall be given for mining.
18. The nexus killed Singana by making the local police their instrument that in turn made use of the Green Hunt operation declared by the UPA government and now they want to kill the most successful and democratic land restoration movement in the history of Orissa by brute force.
19. Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh is a democratic mass organisation and existed much before Maoists became an issue in the region.
20. The CM Naveen Patnaik is shamelessly sleeping while the dignified opposition is yet to wake up to the call of the tribal peasants crying for justice.
Narayanpatna came to the news when on 8th of May 2009, the land grabbers 400 to 500 in number attacked tribal households in Narayanpatna with the support of local police which was challenged by members of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh who instantly got organised after the alarm was raised. The police under pressure seized a house of the land grabbers in which they were making bombs. After that Narayanpatna has been constantly in news because the tribals had launched a very powerful and yet peaceful movement for restoration of their lands grabbed by outsiders. There have been very systematic attempts to divide them and brand a larger section of them as Maoists or Maoist sympathisers. Out of about 37000 people living in the region, 30000 are tribals who lived for last 40-50 years as bonded labourers at the disposal of outsiders who had gone and settled there primarily to capture their resources.
In the last two months the state has witnessed the formation of ‘peace’ committees by powerful vested interests with the support of the police and prospective mining companies. They have organised peace conventions demanding arrests of CMAS leaders and activists who have expressed their solidarity with the victimized tribals. The media has highlighted these events in Laxmipur (Birla’s Hindalco is there), Semiliguda, Koraput and Dushamantapur rich with bauxite deposits.
1. Immediate withdrawal of all armed and paramilitary police such as Cobra, IRB and CRPF from Narayanpatna and immediate stop of farce called combing operation.
2. Dismantling of the Salwa-Judum-operation happening in the name of peace committees in entire Koraput region and registering murder cases against local OIC and other culprits.
3. A compensation of Rs.10 lakhs to the next of the kin killed by the police and immediate medical treatment with proper financial compensation to the tribal peasants sustaining bullet injuries.
4. Immediate withdrawal of all cases against innocent peasants of CMAS and releasing them from jail.
5. State protection to tribals who have captured back their lost land which normally the state was expected to do but did not.
6. Investigation by serving judge of Orissa High Court into the killing of Singana and the land grabbing issue.
Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan
Radhakant Sethy, CPI(ML)(Liberation)
Budha Gamanga, Lok Sangram Manch