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SECOND LETTER TO THE HON’BLE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA

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ON THE ONGOING POLICE ATTACKS ON PEACEFUL DISSENTERS IN ORISSA

17 May 2010

New Delhi

To

Dr Manmohan Singh

Hon’ble Prime Minister of the Republic of India

Sub: Appeal to immediately intervene in Jajpur and Jagatsingpur districts of Orissa where police and paramilitary forces are crushing India’s democratic values in broad daylight

Sir,

We, a group of concerned citizens, are shocked and anguished at the current situation in Jajpur and Jagatsingpur districts of Orissa where police and paramilitary forces have been sent by the state government to crush people’s democratic dissent in the most undemocratic and unbecoming way.

In blatant disregard towards Constitutional values, the state government of Orissa on 15 May 2010 sent at least 40 platoons of police force to Balitutha in Jagatsingpur district – the entry place for the proposed POSCO project area – where hundreds of villagers of the PPSS (POSCO Pratirodh Sangharsh Samiti) were sitting in a peaceful demonstration since 26 January 2010 to express their dissent against the proposed plant, which is a fundamental right of the people going to be affected by the plant.

They are also defending their rights under the Forest Rights Act 2006, which the UPA government terms as a historic Act to ‘correct a historical injustice’, which the Orissa government has blatantly violated.

Instead of coming to dialogue with the people – as they should in any democracy – the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police rather led the forces with a well-planned attack on peaceful demonstrators, in which the temporary shelter at the demonstration site was set on fire and peaceful protesters were mercilessly beaten and fired with rubber and plastic bullets by the police.

More than 100 villagers, including women, are reported to have been injured in this unprovoked attack by the state. The police have also used shotguns – contrary to what they claim – besides firing rubber and plastic bullets. This is evident in the fact that dozens among the injured are writhing in pain with splinter wounds in Balitutha village at the moment, and no medical help is at sight due to the forced blockade by the police. The forces – who behaved more like hired goons led by officers in responsible positions attacking peaceful villagers – also dragged women by the hair and beat them up badly, resulting in severe injuries.

The presence of massive police force in the area shows the state’s desperation to facilitate corporate businesses in exchange of the country’s valuable natural resources, peoples’ secured lives and livelihoods. This is absolutely undemocratic and unnecessary. We are grieved to note that such moves by the state smack of trading basic democratic values and people’s fundamental rights for corporate interests, and are not at all in the national interest in any way.

In another act of excess and terror, the Kalinganagar area where a TATA steel plant is proposed by the state government is under siege by the forces since 30 March 2010. Villages have been destroyed, people have been forced to move out and take refuge in the forest, and no one – journalists, medical teams, or activists – is allowed to go in there.

It is extremely shocking to learn that one tribal man, named Lakshman Jamuda (55), was killed and many severely injured in police firing in Kalinganagar on 12 May 2010. To hush up the incriminating act of the state government, the police took away Jamuda’s body to Puri and got it cremated by one of his distant relatives, Lalmohan, instead of handing over his body to the immediate family members. Later, Lalmohan confessed to the media that he was made to sign on a blank paper by the police at gun point.

How can such acts of atrocities and excess be justified in a democracy? This is certainly not how a democracy should behave; and we strongly condemn such acts of excess and terror!

Therefore, we the undersigned, request you to intervene at the earliest to uphold people’s faith in democracy and their rights to democratic resistance, and withdraw the police forces from these areas immediately. After establishing peace in these areas, the state should come to dialogue with the people of Jagatsingpur and Jajpur who are peacefully resisting to protect their lands, resources and identity – i.e., fundamental rights of citizens in any democracy.

Yours sincerely,

  1. Prashant Bhushan, Advocate, New Delhi
  2. Medha Patkar, NAPM
  3. Arundhati Roy, Writer and Activist, New Delhi
  4. Sandeep Pandey, NAPM
  5. B Ramakrishna Raju, NAPM, Andhra Pradesh
  6. Praful Samantara, NAPM and Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Orissa
  7. Meher Engineer, Academic, Kolkata
  8. Ashok Chaudhury, NFFPFW, New Delhi
  9. Subrat Kumar Sahu, Independent Filmmaker, New Delhi
  10. Sanjay Bosu Mallick, NFFPFW
  11. Madhumita Dutta, Vettiverr Collective, Chennai
  12. Nityanand Jayaraman, Journalist, Chennai
  13. Shweta Narayan, Community Environmental Monitoring, Chennai
  14. Dr Karen Coelho, Academic, Chennai
  15. Shazia Nigar, Delhi University and NAPM, New Delhi
  16. Soumitra Ghosh, NFFPFW – North Bengal Regional Committee, Siliguri, West Bengal
  17. Mamata Dash, Researcher and Activist, NFFPFW, New Delhi
  18. Amit Sengupta, Journalist, New Delhi
  19. Satya Sivaraman, Journalist, New Delhi
  20. Ravi Hemadri, the Other Media, New Delhi
  21. Manshi Asher, Environment Research and Action Collective, Himachal Pradesh
  22. Shalini Gera, Friends of South Asia, Delhi
  23. Shibayan Raha, New Delhi
  24. Madhu Sarin, Researcher and Activist, Chandigarh
  25. Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology, Delhi University
  26. Saswati Swetlana, New Delhi
  27. Ashish Fernandes, Bangalore
  28. Amar Kanwar, Independent Filmmaker, New Delhi
  29. B Karthik Navayan, Advocate, Hyderabad
  30. Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center
  31. Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM
  32. Maj Gen (Retd) S G Vombatkere, NAPM
  33. Rashida Bee, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
  34. Champa Devi Shukla, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
  35. Syed M Irfan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
  36. Rachna Dhingra, Bhopal Group for Information and Action
  37. Satinath Sarangi, Bhopal Group for Information and Action
  38. Safreen Khan, Children Against Dow Carbide
  39. Kanchi Kohli, Kalpavriksh, New Delhi
  40. Latha Jishnu, Journalist, New Delhi
  41. Chanda Asani, Academic, Jaipur
  42. K P Sasi, Independent Filmmaker, Bangalore
  43. Anivar Aravind, Moving Republic, Bangalore
  44. Ravi Chellam, Bangalore
  45. Sunil, National Vice-President, Samajvadi Jana Parishad
  46. Sanjay Joshi, Gorakhpur Film Festival
  47. Sebastian Rodrigues, Goa
  48. Shankar Gopalkrishnan, Campaign for Survival and Dignity, New Delhi
  49. Sirisha Naidu, Assistant Professor of Economics, Wright State University, OH, USA
  50. Ranjana Padhee, Researcher and Activist, New Delhi
  51. K Babu Rao, Hyderabad
  52. Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Human Rights Activist and Writer, Delhi
  53. Manoranjan Mohanty, Academic, New Delhi
  54. Md Qanit B Takmeel, National Institute of Technology, Rourkela
  55. Anand Patwardan, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  56. Nivedita Dash, Journalist, New Delhi
  57. V Rukmini Rao, Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Secunderabad
  58. Vimalbhai, Matu People’s Organization, Uttarakhand
  59. Amit Kumar Dhiman, Mohali, Punjab
  60. Pradeep Kumar, Pathankot, Punjab
  61. Mohan Bhagat, Maryland, USA
  62. Shankar Chellam, Houston, Texas, USA
  63. Anand Mazgoankar, NAPM
  64. Karavali Karnataka Janaabhivriddhi Vedike, Karnataka
  65. Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshana Samiti, Karnataka
  66. Souparna Lahiri, NFFPFW, New Delhi
  67. Sayantoni Dutta, Researcher, New Delhi
  68. Piyush Sethia, Farmer and Activist, Salem, Tamil Nadu
  69. Kavita Srivastava, National Secretary, PUCL
  70. Lakshmi Premkumar, Researcher, Chennai
  71. Priya Jain, New Delhi
  72. Hartman de Souza, Journalist, Goa
  73. S Jeevan Kumar, President, Human Rights Forum, Hyderabad
  74. V S Krishna, Secretary, Human Rights Forum, Hyderabad
  75. Gurpreet Sidhu, People Tree, New Delhi
  76. Nandini Oza, Writer and Activist, Pune
  77. Sridhar Iyer, Mumbai
  78. Shaweta Anand, Journalist and Researcher, New Delhi
  79. Harsh Dobhal, Human Rights Activist, New Delhi
  80. Praful Bidwai, Columnist and Writer, New Delhi
  81. Preeti Sampat,Scholar and Activist

and many more concerned citizens

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Written by janjagriti

May 18, 2010 at 4:10 am

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