It is a matter of great concern that mindless mining and aggressive industrialization in Odisha, has become the root cause of deprivation of thousands of innocent people who have been depending on natural resources for generations for sustaining their life and livelihood. Absence of collective political will to take up people’s causes has further added to the worries of the already marginalized communities. Apathy of media, middle class and manipulation of the justice delivery system by powerful capitalistic forces has again given a clear scope for unscrupulous mining companies to advance their profit maximization agenda without any hindrances. And we are yet to take seriously the disturbing implications of this ugly development.
We would like to invite your attention more particularly to the untold miseries and sufferings of people in Dhinkia which has been targeted for an integrated steel plant by Sajan Jindal’s JSW a few years after POSCO was driven out of the same soil. JSW is now literally running the police and administration in Jagatsinghpur district. As a consequence, the constitution of the country and rule of law has been suspended, and the innocent villagers unwilling to part with their land and livelihood sources are facing the music now.
The so-called supporters of the JSW project are also not heartily in favour of the project. They were also opposing the project on similar grounds. But through the systematic intimidation, influence and threats of arrests and police action, a section of the protestors have been turned into ‘supporters’ of the project. The rest are now being treated as if they are not human beings and as if they don’t have any right to survive or live with dignity. Their leader Debendra Swain was arrested as a part of a well thought out strategy: ‘make sure that the leader remains in jail till the project is installed and then finish the movement by all means’. Yes, precisely they have been doing this experiment all over the state and its aggressive manifestation could be seen in Dhinkia now. After Debendra Swain was arrested in a number of falsely implicated cases, now they have enacted new plots to implicate him in cases even when he was inside Kujanga jail. A case for threatening someone from jail was the first plot. This act of police was questioned by a section of the local press. They did not have to respond or clarify. Now, they were doubly encouraged to take Debendra out on police remand. They took him to his own betel vine which was demolished when he was in jail and showed him a gun and made him sign a paper ‘confessing’ that it was seized from his land.
The intention is to keep him in jail indefinitely as from the last verdict of the High Court it has been proved that the Judiciary will not question police excesses and therefore, whatever they do now will not be questioned by any one. The police are now picking up protesting villagers one by one by implicating them in false cases. The petitioners of earlier cases are being forced by police now to distance themselves from such petitions. A section of media have been engaged by JSW to do slanderous campaigns against the protest and the protesting villagers. They don’t even spare green activists and social activists who are coming forward to stand with the oppressed and fear stricken Dhinkia villagers.
The people of Dhinkia are in terrible distress. Those who live in hideouts to escape police and company atrocities are being targeted now. No normalcy in the village for the last 4 months. People are desperately looking forward to support and solidarity from outside since the Chief Minister of the state denies any access to common people despite his high profile propaganda. We have no doubt to accept the truth that the Chief Minister, because of his closeness to miners for electoral reasons, and because of the support he gets from the Modi government for mining, has decidedly remained silent when atrocities on people are increasing day by day.
We appeal, all forces including political parties, organizations, national and international human rights groups, intellectuals and non corporate media outfits to please come forward and raise the issues of repression in Dhinkia. The activists and groups raising climate issues should note that the JSW project is coming up in the area abandoned by POSCO which is already known to be an ecologically fragile zone often hit by cyclones and super cyclones. The project will be a grave concern for the climatic conditions of coastal Odisha.
We request you, every one of you, to stand united with the people of Dhinkia and condemn the barbaric action of state police and private goons of JSW.
We sincerely appeal you to demand the following and accordingly send your appeal to Chief Minsiter of Odisha:
1. Immediate withdrawal of police from Dhinkia
2. Administrative action against the controversial SP of Jagatsinghpur and IIC of Jagatsingpur who are responsible for the continuous repression of people.
3. Immediate release of Debendra Swain and withdrawal of all cases against him and other villagers who have been opposing the JSW project for convincing reasons.
4. An immediate halt to the project to facilitate proper study by independent and non corporate agencies to understand all ecological and livelihood issues of the region which might get affected by the JSW project.
Prafulla Samantara, Narendra Mahanty,Rabi Das,Sudheer Pattnaik,Bijay Bahidar,Biswapriya Kanungo,Suresh Panigrahy,Prashant Paikaray,Sankar Sahu,Jyotiranjan Mahapatra,Shrikanta Mahanty,Shrimant Mahanty ,Sasmita Jena,Ranjana Padhy,Lenin Kumar,Tapan Misra,Tapan Padhy,Niranjan Mahanty,Mahendra parida,Sudarhan Pradhan.
On behalf of Dhnikia Charidesa Solidarity Forum, Bhubaneswar