Déjà vu: 1 year after the Kalinganagar massacre
On 2 January 2006, 14 Adivasis, indigenous peoples, were shot dead in the indiscriminate use of fire-arms by the Orissa Police at Kalinga Nagar in Jajpur district of Orissa, India. The victims were protesting against the establishment of a plant by the Tata Iron and Steel Co Ltd on their lands.
On the fateful day, the Tata Iron and Steel Co Ltd (TISCO or TATAs) with the help of the district administration undertook the levelling of the land where its plant was to come up at Kalinga Nagar under Jajpur district of Orissa. According to a report by fact-finding team of Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, about 300-400 Adivasis, indigenous peoples, from Chandia, Gobarghati, Ambagadia, Baragadia and Namduburi villages assembled to protest. The demonstrators included women and children and some of them were carrying bows and arrows - a customary practice of the Adivasis.
The State government reportedly deployed about 10 platoons comprising around 300 policemen.
When the leveling work started, the Adivasi protestors wanted to enter the rope cordon. The police tried to stop them and used ‘stun shells' along with tear gas shells and rubber bullets. Later, in the melee, one of the policemen identified as Gopabandhu Mohanty slipped and fell into the hands of the fleeing tribals and was killed by the angry crowd.
Following the killing of Mr Mohanty, other policemen ran amok in order to avenge the killing. They fired indiscriminately and killed 14 Adivasis. The senior officials present did nothing to stop them. The firing occurred in the presence of District Collector, Saswat Mishra and Superintendent of Police, Binoytosh Mishra.
While six Adivasis were killed on the spot on 2 Janaury 2006, six others succumbed to their injuries while undergoing treatment on 3 January 2006. Shyam Gagrai succumbed to bullet injuries on 11 March 2006 at All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi and Sanjoy Soy succumbed later.
Two of the 14 tribals killed in the clash were reportedly shot in the back, apparently while trying to flee. Two others were shot in the forehead from point-blank range. At least one was killed by iron object, not bullet.
a. Acts of barbarism: Chopping off the palms and mutilation of the genitals
In an act of barbarism, five bodies handed over to the relatives after post mortem had their palms chopped off from their wrists. The doctors at Jajpur hospital sought to justify chopping off the hands on the ground that they had cut off the palms to take fingerprints as the faces had been completely disfigured by bullets. The consent of the relatives of the deceased was not taken.
The Superintendent of Police of Jajpur, Mr Binaytosh Mishra described the chopping off the palms as a “standard procedure”. “The hands had become stiff and were thus unsuitable for taking fingerprints. The doctors chopped the wrist and put them in a saline solution to bring them to a proper shape for taking the fingerprints. In the case of unidentified bodies, doctors do this” - stated Mr Mishra.
In addition, relatives of the six victims taken for post mortem alleged before the Organisation for the Protection of Democratic Rights that the genital organs of all six, including a woman, had been chopped off or mutilated during post mortem.
The State government ordered suspension of three senior doctors, Head of the Department of Anaesthesia, Dr Bibekananda Swain; Head of the Department of Surgery, Dr Shantanu Kumar Sahu; and Head of the Department of Orthopaedics, Dr Anup Kumar Nathsharma, who had performed the post mortem. But no action was taken against any police officials. On 15 January 2006, the state government reportedly urged the Orissa Human Rights Commission to probe the alleged mutilation of private parts of the dead tribals.
On 6 January 2006, the state government transferred the Jajpur district collector Saswat Mishra and Superintendent of Police Binaytosh Mishra.
Many of the victims were brutally killed. On 24 June 2006, the judicial commission headed by Mr Justice AS Naidu of Orissa High Court probing the 2 January police firing sent a piece of iron object which was retrieved from the neck of one of the victims for forensic test. The iron object was retrieved from the victim's neck during the post-mortem examination at the community health centre at Danagadi in Jajpur district. The post mortem report certified that the object was not a bullet.
The list of the victims is given below:
|S. N||Name||Age||Gender||Village||Death of Place||Date of Death|
|1||Bhagaban Soy||25||M||Gobarghati||Police Custody||3rd Jan' 06|
|12||M||Bamiagotha||Police Firing||2nd Jan' 06|
|3||Mukta Bankira||30||F||Chandia||Police Custody||3rd Jan' 06|
|4||Ramachandra Jamuda||36||M||Bamiagotha||SCB Medical, Cuttack||2nd Jan 06|
|5||Landu Jarika||29||M||Bamiagotha||Police Custody||3rd Jan 06|
|6||Deogi Tiria||28||F||Champa Koila||Police Firing||2nd Jan 06|
|7||Bana Badara||33||M||Gadpur||Police Custody||3rd Jan 06|
|8||Ati Jamuda||32||M||Chandia||Police Custody||3rd Jan 06|
|9||Rama Gagarai||35||M||Gadpur||Police Custody||3rd Jan 06|
|10||Sudam Barla||50||M||Belahuri||Police Firing||2nd Jan 06|
|11||Janga Jarika||23||F||Bamiagotha||Police Firing||2nd Jan 06|
|12||Rangalal Munduya||40||M||Baligotha||SCB Medical, Cuttack||2nd Jan 06|
|13||Shyam Gagrai||35||M||AIIMS, New Delhi||11 March' 06|
b. The issue of justice: Judicial Commission of Inquiry
On 3 January 2006, the Orissa government declared a judicial probe into the police firing on the Adivasis. The official notification appointing Justice A S Naidu of Orissa High Court as the head of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry was issued on 23 February 2006.
Two more tribals - Shyam Gagrai and Sanjoy Soy - injured in the police firing had died after the issuance of the notification of the judicial commission of inquiry. On 6 May 2006, Justice AS Naidu Commission had to adjourn hearing till 9 June 2006 because of the failure of the Orissa State government to issue a notification to bring the death of these two tribals under the purview of the inquiry commission.
On 13 June 2006, the Inquiry Commission visited the district hospital at Jajpur where the post mortems of the slain tribals were conducted and summoned the three suspended doctors and the Chief District Medical Officer.
On 14 June 2006, the Inquiry Commission met the tribal representatives at Kalinga Nagar.
In August 2006, the Justice Naidu Commission sought extension of its tenure. It could not complete the inquiry because of the apathy of the State government.
Earlier, on 15 October 2006, while deposing before the Justice AS Naidu Commission of Inquiry, Superintendent of Police, Mr Binoytosh Mishra defended the police action. He claimed that the agitators had ‘fiercely' attacked the policemen with axes, bows and arrows. However, a fact finding team of Peoples' Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in its report stated that all the four injured policemen - Shri R.R. Naupani, Shri B.S. Gerung, Shri Asbahadur Gum and Shri H.B. Newar- undergoing treatment at Medical College Hospital, Cuttack “suffered injuries caused by lathis. There was no sign of injuries caused by arrow”.
The Commission of Inquiry is yet to submit the report.
c. Controversial compensation
Following the massacre, on 3 January 2006 the State Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced a meagre ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh to immediate kin of each of the deceased and free medical expenses to those injured in the police firing. The compensation package further added insult to the injuries. Later, Chief Minister announced to further increase the ex-gratia to 5 lakh to family members of each firing victims, while an ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 to each injured person besides bearing all the expenses of their treatment. Moreover, Chief Minister Patnaik promised a job in the government offices or public enterprises to an adult member from each bereaved family.
However, the kin of all the 13 police firing victims, under the banner of Vistapan Virodhi Janamanch, had rejected the government's offer of ex-gratia.
Only Ms Sukumari Gagarai, a relative of one of the victims, Mr Rama Gagarai of Gadpur village was given Rs 5 lakh on 6 July 2006. She was also given the job of attendant at the primary health centre at Rabana in the Kalinga Nagar Industrial complex area and the government reportedly agreed to bear the educational expenses of the two illiterate sons of the slain Rama Gagarai. However, the Vistapan Virodhi Janamanch alleged that Ms Sukumari was kidnapped by the members of the Sukinda Surakshya Samity, formed at the behest of the local legislator and Finance Minister, Mr Prafulla Chandra Ghadai and was forced to receive the ex-gratia compensation from the district administration.
d. Lessons Not Learnt: Kalinga Nagar Industrial Area Vs Orissa Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy 2006
The state government of Orissa has reportedly been preparing a master plan for Kalinga Nagar with the help of South Africa-based Lea Associates, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi and the Centre for Environment and Planning. As per the draft plan released in 2006, the Kalinga Nagar Industrial Area (KNIA) will be extended to 134 villages. About 10-lakh hectare land will be acquired by the government in a phased manner for the development of the area. According to the draft plan, 68 square kilometers out of the total area will be reserved for town planning. About 89 square kilometers will be earmarked for industrial units while 20 square kilomters will be reserved for development of different infrastructure including bus stand, hotels, schools and hospital. The State Government decided to shift the District Industries Centre (DIC) from Jajpur to Kalinga Nagar and establish Kalinga Nagar Development Authority.
In May 2006, the State government adopted the Orissa Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy 2006 to address the historical injustices against the displaced persons, mainly the Adivasis. The Policy has identified displacement by six types of projects: Industrial Projects; Mining Projects; Irrigation Projects, National Parks and Sanctuaries; Urban and Linear Projects; and any other projects. Employment is guaranteed to an eligible member from each displaced family in cases of displacement by Industrial and Mining projects. For Industrial Projects and Mining Projects, one time cash assistance can be up to maximum of Rs 5 lakhs for displaced families who have lost all land including homestead land. Provision for granting of free homestead land of 1/10th acre in the resettlement habitat to each displaced family is “subject to availability” of land. In lieu of the homestead land, Rs 50,000 shall be given. The Policy also provides for house building assistance of Rs 1.5 lakh for each displaced family. Furthermore, a monthly maintenance allowance of Rs 2,000 is to be provided to each displaced family for one year. The Policy gives special benefits to displaced tribal and indigenous families, including preferential allotment of land.
Following the adoption of the Orissa Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy 2006, the Tata Steel reportedly started implementing the same and provided jobs to 29 displaced from Kalinga Nagar, who were trained in welding technology by the steel company. As on 22 November 2006, more than 300 affected families were relocated from Kalinga Nagar industrial area. According to a release issued by Tata Steel, displaced families would be allotted 1/10th acre of land. Each family will get Rs 1.5 lakh for building houses and a maintenance allowance of Rs 2,000 per month for one year.
The Orissa Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy 2006 cannot address the root causes of the dispossession of the Adivasis in the state.