Statement By CDRO

Statement By CDRO On The Death Of A Contract Worker In Lanjigarh And Lathicharge On Workers And Families

Condemn The Death Of Contract Worker In Vedanta Lanjigrah Refinery Plant

CDRO is shocked and aghast at the manner in which Dani Batra, age 40, a contract worker of the refinery plant of Vedanta, situated in Kalahandi district of Odisha was killed in a brutal lathi charge on Monday, March 18. The lathicharge carried out by the Odisha Industrial Securiry Force (OISF) left over 50 people injured. They were admitted to the Lanjigarh hospital soon after. In the violence that followed, an OISF personnel also lost his life.

The contract workers are part of the large daily community from villages around the plant. The company had acquired the land from these villagers more than ten years ago through co-ercion and false promises. Promises included education for children, jobs in the plant and hospital. However, the few who managed to get jobs have remained on contract since all these years.  The protest on March 18 was basically to demand permanent status, enrolment of their children in a nearby school and more jobs to those in the community.

When the OISF forces violently chased away the workers, all hell broke loose.  Villagers from Rengapalli, Chatrapur and Bandhaguda joined in at the gates. They unleashed their fury in and around the main gate. A brutal lathicharge was carried out leaving many injured.  Both the workers from the villages and their communities have been waging a lobe battle since many years. Unfortunately, neither the district administration nor the company have been able to give to them what was rightfully due to them.

This incident is a big eye opener for all of us who stand by the struggling people of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and elsewhere against coercive land acquisition for mining and industry. What is happening is an open loot of natural resources and exploitation of people’s labour.  On the other hand, there is large scale forced migration of people to neighbouring states in the bid for survival. This kind of “development” is happening with the state using brute force through repression. And the crushing of dissent of people who have lived on that land since generations.

The entire region of Niyamgiri has been simmering since more than two years now as media reports testify. The increasing presence of CRPF, daily surveillance and combing operations, interrogation of Dongria Kondh youth and activists alleging them to have links with Maoists, and random arrests is the path the Odisha government has taken to assure Vednata of the rich bauxite deposits in the Niyamagiri mountain.

CDRO salutes the fighting spirit of the people of Niyamagiri who continue their resistance in the face of such a ruthless and repressive state to say NO to bauxite mining! For the people, the mountain is scared; it is their God.  Therefore, they are ready to give up their lives to protect their land, livelihood and habitat.

The Supreme Court had ordered a Gram Sabha after years of legal dispute. CDRO urges the Odisha government to abide by the laws of the land by implementing the Gram Sabha verdict of 2013 that followed when the people had unanimously said no to bauxite mining.

CDRO Demands:
·         A high level enquiry into the incidents of March 18, 2019.
·         Arrests of Vedanta and OISF officials who ordered the lathicharge.
·         Repeal of all false and fabricated cases against the people of Niyamgiri opposing the Lanjigarh plant and mining operations.

 On behalf of CDRO,
Asish Gupta,Coordinator
Constituent Organisations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR, Punjab), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal); Asansol Civil Rights Association, West Bengal; Bandi Mukti Committee (West Bengal); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, AndhraPradesh); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Telangana); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR, Maharashtra); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR, TamiNadu); Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur); Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam); Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR); Peoples’ Committee for Human Rights (PCHR, Jammu and Kashmir); Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka);Jharkhand Council for Democratic Rights (JCDR, Jharkhand); Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR, Delhi); Peoples Union for Civil Rights (PUCR, Haryana), Campaign for Peace &Democracy in Manipur (CPDM), Delhi; Janhastakshep (Delhi).

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Mar 24, 2019