Stop road work in Kalinganagar: citizens' panel


Special Correspondent, The Hindu

Date of publication: 
1 April 2010

Some 40 tribals sustain bullet wounds, the panel members say

Chief Minister urged to intervene in the issue

BHUBANESWAR: A citizens’ committee that visited Kalinganagar industrial hub in Jajpur district of Orissa hours after the police action against the tribals opposing construction of a common corridor road on Tuesday demanded that the work on the controversial road be stopped immediately.

Addressing presspersons here on Wednesday, three of the five-member concerned citizens’ committee said that the police action against the tribals was in violation of all democratic norms.

They said about 40 tribal men and women sustained bullet injuries in the “indiscriminate police firing’ against peaceful protestors of Bisthapan Birodhi Janamanch, the organisation spearheading an anti-displacement agitation against a steel plant project of Tata Steel and the common corridor road.

“The administration does not seem to be sensitive to the cause of the tribal protestors as much as it is concerned for the companies in Kalinganagar,” they said in their report.

The concerned citizens’ committee, which was led by former High Court Judge Justice Chaudhury Pratap Mishra, had Rabi Das, Chita Mohanty, Sudhir Pattnaik and Mahendra Parida as members.

“The police firing at the site of the controversial common corridor road near Baligotha village was unwarranted and uncalled for and therefore looks to be pre-planned,” the committee said.

“The presence of 29 platoons of armed police, two platoons of NSG, 70 police officers and seven Magistrates in the area does speak about the atmosphere of police terror prevailing in the area,” the committee observed.

Justice Mishra demanded that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik intervene in the matter and halt the road project without delay.

He also condemned the Jajpur administration for not allowing media persons to visit the place of police firing and the villages that were attacked by police and some civilians who were allegedly in police uniform.

The administration had made no efforts to treat the injured persons who were scared to go out of their villages for fear of torture and arrest, Justice Mishra said. About 25 injured persons were provided treatment by a doctor who accompanied the committee members.

Entry denied

Meanwhile, leaders of opposition parties such as Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and Communist Party of India (Marxist), who went to visit the police firing site on Wednesday were denied entry into the area by the local administration. The administration, however, continued the road construction work by deploying a large number of policemen in the area.