INDIA: MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS AFTER INDEPNDENCE
The Nandigram violence was an incident in Nandigram, West Bengal where, on the orders of the Left Front government, more than 4,000 heavily armed police stormed the Nandigram area with the aim of stamping out protests against the West Bengal government’s plans to expropriate 10,000 acres (40 km²) of land for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to be developed by the Indonesian-based Salim Group. The police shot dead at least 14 villagers and wounded 70 more.
November 2007 violence in Nandigram
A fresh round of violence came up in November 2007, as the villagers who were thrown out of Nandigram returned back home. The return of the villagers was marred by violence unleashed by the ruling party cadres in Nandigram. The media termed this return as a "recapture" by the CPI (M) Evidence points to the operation being conducted entirely by the party keeping the state administration inactive. The party eulogized the operation with its state chairman describing it as `a new dawn' and the chief minister as `paying them back in their own coin' The last comment was directed presumably primarily at the Maoist activists who, the CPI (M) claims, were active at Nandigram. The government has however officially contradicted the claim. The situation was described as one of "Red Terror". Social activist Medha Patkar in a message to National Human Rights Commission of India said that war like situation prevailed in Nandigram due to presence of thousands of CPM cadres. Police officers were present in the area, but supported their programme to attack Nandigram.
KALINGA NAGAR (from pucl report)
Land acquisition and compensation
The acquisition of land by IDCO for Kalinganagar Industrial complex began in early 90s in different phases. Till now about 13000 acres of land have been acquired by IDCO. Of these, 6900 acres are private land and the remaining area is said to be ‘government land’. However, in reality, people are cultivating most of these ‘government land’, for generations, over which they do not have patta. The land survey and settlement in the area was not done since 1928. It needs to be noted that after passing the Orissa Estate Abolition Act in 1951, the Estate of Sukinda King was vested with the government. But tenancy rights were not conferred upon the local people who were in possession of land. Even after the passing of the Orissa Survey and Settlement Act of 1958 (Rules framed in the year 1962), no settlement has been done in the area. The commitments/promises made by successive governments at different times on land reforms, promising land to the landless, have never been implemented in the area.
The IDCO has purchased land from people at the rate of Rs.15000/- to Rs.30000/- per acre in the initial phase of acquisition. Over the years, as a ‘measure of benevolence’, an ex-gratia amount of Rs.25000/- per acre has been awarded, in different phases, probably in response to people’s demand for increased compensation from time to time.
The compensation for land was given to only those who had patta on the land. This left a huge section of people uncompensated, as they had no patta over the land they possessed. Another section of people, who cultivated land as sharecroppers, didn’t receive any compensation. After acquiring land from people, IDCO has been selling the land to different industries at a much higher price. As per the available reports, IDCO has sold land to the Tatas at the rate of Rs.3.5 lakhs per acre.
I have 1.5 acres of patta land and another three acres without patta. I had an argument with the Amin at the time of survey and refused to bribe him, which he wanted. For this my name was not listed for the compensation. I haven’t received any compensation till now. My land will be taken away by the Tata. – Galia Munda, Village- Kalamatia
According to media reports, taking advantage of non-settlement of land, many influential people have grabbed land, by hook or crook, after the area was marked for the industrial complex. According to one report, one ex-Chief Secretary of the State, had grabbed 160 acres of land in the area, through his influence. (Samaj-18.1.6)
The Land Acquisition Act of 1894 (Amendment 1984) does not give the owner of land (seller) the right to say ‘no’ as the land is acquired for ‘public interest’. The owner can only contest about the price fixed by the buyer (the government) and take the matter to the court of law and has to accept whatever the court of law (again, the same government) decides about the price of land. Whereas, when dealing with a private buyer one has the option to negotiate the price and say ‘no’ if the price doesn’t suit him/her. The irony is the land acquired by the government, under the LA Act, for ‘public purpose’ is actually meant for private companies.
During 1995-96, the government of Orissa had acquired land from people, forcibly, for the Tatas to set up a steel plant in Gopalpur. The steel plant hasn’t come up yet and apparently the Tatas have decided not to set up the plant. However, the land acquired for this ‘public purpose’ remains in the possession of the Tatas.
Displacement and rehabilitation
The government of Orissa is yet to have a Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) policy, even though there is a long and tragic history of displacement in the state, beginning in the 1950s. In the absence of a policy, rehabilitation of the displaced people is guided by mere administrative circulars, which are project specific. For Kalinganagar Industrial Complex, the government has issued a series of guidelines, (the latest being that of 18th November 2005) to regulate rehabilitation and resettlement of families affected due to acquisition of land. In these guidelines, three areas have been considered for the resettlement and rehabilitation of the displaced families. These are (a) financial compensation for the loss of land; (b) provision of homestead land and assistance for house building and (c) compensation for the loss of livelihood. It needs to be noted that while the price for the acquired land, provision of homestead land and assistance for housing building has been fixed by the government, the provision of jobs to the displaced families is not made obligatory for the companies, in the guidelines. But, people have been promised of it by the government/politicians at different times before displacement.
At no stage, the government has considered, ‘land for land’ as a rehabilitation measure for the affected families.
Run up to the main event, 2 January 2006
The early years
By all account, initially the local people welcomed the idea of the industrial complex, believing that the new industries would usher in development of the area, give employment to the local populace, and improve their standard of living. So when land acquisition took place between 1992 and 1994, undertaken by IDCO, people accepted the compensation at the extant rate without a murmur. They believed the verbal assurance given by govt. officials that jobs would be provided to them when the industries would start. They continued cultivating the acquired land as before, till around 1997 when the first batch was displaced.
When the land was physically acquired in 1997, to be handed over to the companies, provision was made to shift the displaced people at two resettlement colonies: Trijanga and Gobarghati colonies. Homestead land of 10 decimal (1/10 acre) per family was allotted to each displaced family. People displaced due to the Mesco and Jindal plants were to shift to Trijanga, and those displaced by NINL were to be shifted to Gobarghati. Trouble started when, at the time of being shifted to the Gobarghati Colony, the displaced demanded jobs before they would leave their hearth.
When nothing of the sort was forthcoming, the villagers sat on dharna, refusing to leave. Matter took a cruel and ugly turn when, late in the evening, police was used to forcefully evict the people. Reportedly, bulldozers were used and 60 people were arrested. The trust of the people in general was shaken.
Post 2004 Phase
what happened between 1997 and 2004 is hazy. We heard people vaguely complaining of betrayal by the erstwhile leadership belonging to various mainstream political parties, but not much could be evinced of that period. There seemed to be a lull from both sides. When we asked people about that period, they said that it took them time to realize the extent of danger that was hanging over their lives and livelihood.
In 2004 an organisation to protect the interest of the people affected by the industrial complex was formed; it called itself Sukinda Upatyaka Adivasi-Harijan Ekata O Surakshya Parishad, which was later renamed, and remains such till date, as Visthapan Birodhi Jan Mancha, Sukinda. In October 2004 they had issued an open letter to the Chief Minister, expressing their concern and grievances about the hardships faced by them due to the emerging complex, and spelt out several demands; five demands meant for the people to be displaced, and six demands concerning the people already displaced. The salient features of the demands included i) stop further construction in agricultural land; ii) giving patta to the people settled before 1980 iii) land acquired, but unused, be returned to the original owners; iv) stop deliberate targeting of tribal/dalit villages for land acquisition; v) the homestead land to be raised to one acre per displaced family; vi) the parishad to have a say in rehabilitation matters; vii) one job per displaced family, etc.
During 2005, the Visthapan Virodhi Jana Mancha (VVJM) resisted all kinds of activities - like land-survey, bhumipuja, leveling, boundary wall construction etc.—relating to setting up of industries in the Kalinganagar Complex. They organized protest meetings and sit-in demonstrations in front of construction sites. People told us that in April 2005 government had issued notice to do a family survey. But the Manch decided not to cooperate with the government to do this survey as their demand for patta of their land was not met. It needs to be noted that the last family-wise survey was done in 1996. The number of family units has increased by 2004-05.
Among all these the incident of 9th May 2005 assumes greater significance, in terms of signifying a culmination of simmering discontent against the administration and the companies under their protection. On 9th May, hearing that the bhumipooja for Maharashtra Seamless was going to be performed; people had assembled at the site to protest and obstruct the proceedings. That people were not carrying any arms was corroborated by one of the officials present at the site. The ADM of Kalinganagar came to the site to negotiate with the people. The local police was already present, though not in very large numbers, to provide security to the officials of Maharashtra Seamless. The people reiterated their demands to the ADM and did not move from the place. It is alleged that the ADM, Shri Santanagopalan, in his enthusiasm, ordered lathi-charge and rushed towards the protestors, pushing some of the obstructing women to the ground. At this sudden action of his, which the people saw as a provocation, clashes ensued. People resorted to stone pelting and the vehicle of the ADM was damaged.
The ADM was beaten up in the melee, and when the IIC of Kalinganagar PS tried to save the ADM he too was beaten up; both of them sustained injuries. Seeing the people’s rage the police retreated from the scene that afternoon, to return later with more reinforcements. They entered the villages and went on a rampage. Fearing retaliation, most of the men folk had fled the villages and taken shelter in the surrounding hillocks. Therefore the brunt of the police fell on the women folk and children. They were roughed up and at least 25 women were arrested. Hearing of the police terror, people from nearby villages also fled their villages and took shelter in the nearby forest. It is alleged that the privations caused the death of two children. Also, an old man, who was severely beaten up by the police, died later.
After the 9th May incident, the process of mutual distrust was completed. The tribals, led by the Jana Mancha, felt betrayed by the govt. and perceived the administration as friend of the companies and enemies of the tribal people; the administration, on its part, was taken aback by the vociferous opposition of the hitherto gullible and peaceable. Plausibly, they were planning ways of snuffing out the resistance.
Notice was served to the people for Public Hearing on Tata Steel plant to be held at Jajpur Road on 27th July 2005. On the other hand, on 23rd July 2005, Tatas came to perform their bhoomipooja in the presence of District Collector and the SP. About 3000 people protested and held demonstrations at the site. The administration responded by lodging cases against some people and their leaders.
Again on 7th October 2005 Tatas came, accompanied by police and district administration, for bhoomipooja and people protested. A constable was reportedly beaten up by the protestors and, according to the police, people snatched away his gun.
On 25th October, Shri Rabindra Jarika, one of the leaders of the Jana Mancha, was arrested by the Jajpur police from Bhubaneswar. He had come to Bhubaneswar to attend a conference of some tribal organization. The manner in which Shri Jarika was arrested had raised serious questions at that time and many organizations, including PUCL, had protested against police highhandedness in this case and the policy of the government to repress all democratic struggle by use of police force.
On 27th October people gheraoed the Kalinganagar police station protesting against the arrest of Rabindra Jarika. After this incident police have been trying to arrest the other leaders of the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Manch.
On 17th November people stopped the construction work begun by the Maharashtra Seamless steel. Since then no further construction work took place till the date of firing. The movement was gaining in momentum, and the mood of the people upbeat. Little could they foresee what was waiting in store.
2nd January 2006
That day, with the help of the administration, the Tatas undertook the programme of leveling the land where their plant was to come up. Top district officials, including SP and DM, were present. People of the area had assembled to protest. Coming sporadically from several villages, their numbers had gradually swelled to300-400, including women and children, some of them carrying bows and arrows, tangias (a kind of pick axe) and other traditional weapons, customarily carried by tribal people. They were assembled on the adjacent fields to the site, close to Champakoila village. By all accounts, the mobilisation of the police was massive, around 10 platoons, that is around 300 policemen, requisitioned by the SP for overseeing the leveling of a piece of land. They had come prepared for combat, for a decisive show of strength, armed and battle ready. They had taken positions, according to unofficial police sources, divided in three contingents on three sides of the Tata site, which was temporarily fenced by long ropes. (9 contingents were positioned along the rope boundary and one was ‘reserve’, specially meant to give protection to the top brass present.)
About what happened that day there are several versions. We are trying to narrate what appear most plausible to us. When the leveling machine was doing its work, the protestors wanted to enter the rope cordon and stop the machine; the police tried to stop them. So, there arose a situation where there was pushing and pulling from both sides. In their attempt to scare them the police used ‘stun shells’ (there are allegations of land-mines or bombs being used by the police which the team doesn’t find plausible), along with teargas shells, and rubber bullets. All this was done in quick succession, as if the police were in a hurry to finish a formality. (As the organizers informed us, they wanted to discuss with the authorities but wasn’t given a chance.) This resulted in a great confusion when people ran helter skelter in fright, and outrage.
Some of the policemen, while chasing the demonstrators, had tripped on the uneven land around the site. This in turn encouraged some of the fleeing crowd to return. (Anyone, who has followed the resistance of the weak against the mighty administration, would understand the dynamics and psychology of such conflagration.)
The police had started fire, ostensibly to give cover to its fallen colleagues. But, inexplicably, they fired to kill, and some of the agitators fell victim. In the melee one of the policemen, an unarmed havildar, Gopabandhu Mohanty, slipped and fell in the hands of the fleeing tribals. He was killed by the disoriented crowd. After this, the men in uniform and gears ran amok, the officials present doing nothing to restrain them. They were baying for blood, seeking revenge, using the death of a colleague as an alibi. The people, frightened out of their wits, ran, as the police shot unrestrainedly from behind. Bodies, dead and injured, including women and children, lay strewn on the ground. The villagers carried some of their injured and dead people to the villages and admitted the injured into the hospital. The others, dead and injured, were taken to the hospital by the police. The final count, that emerged by and by, were shocking: 1 policeman dead and 4 injured; 12 tribals dead and 37 injured—the dead, as well as the injured, included women and children. (see Annex-2 for list of the 12 tribals killed)
The PUCL team met some of the injured people, including the four policemen, at Medical College Hospital, Cuttack. The injured policemen were - Shri R.R. Naupani, Shri B.S. Gerung, Shri Asbahadur Gum and Shri H.B. Newar. The team found that all the injured policemen had suffered injuries caused by lathis. There was no sign of injuries caused by arrow.
The immediate aftermath
With the 4 dead bodies that couldn’t be recovered by the police, and which remained in the custody of the shell-shocked tribals, the people, under the banner of VVJM, Sukinda, sat on a dharna at Madhuban Chhaka, on the NH-200. As the shock and grief gave way to outrage and a new resolve to thwart the designs of the government, the ever-swelling numbers of agitators blocked the highway, with seven-point demands. The road blockade continues till the time of writing this report. After the remaining bodies were handed over to the families, on 4th January 2006, mass cremation was held at Ambagadia village. (the place of cremation got renamed as Veer Bhumi) It was discovered that out of the bodies handed over by the police, 5 had their palms chopped off. This added to the outrage and anger.
In Kashmir Mighty Indian state is Oppressing Kashmiri people’s nationality struggle
Times online reports that around 250,000 Indian troops are stationed in Kashmir, while Pravda.RU, a widely read Russian News source notes that 350,000-600,000 troops may be deployed in Kashmir. So average 20 person have one military personnel (1990 census shows population of Kashmir is 10,143,700)
Tens of thousands of people is missing and most of the causalities are by fake encounter by Indian army-Para militaries
It is hard to determine the total number of casualties. According to a report by the Government of India in the year 2000, 31,000 Indian civilians had lost their lives due to the insurgency. Human rights groups and local NGOs put the total figure at more than 84,000 (2005 figure) India claims it is the presence of these numerous anti-India insurgent groups that has compelled New Delhi to deploy massive number of troops in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir for the task of counter insurgency. New Delhi has never made an official count, but military analysts estimate that anywhere from 30,000 to nearly 33,000 security personnel are most likely involved, supported by thousands of Indian paramilitary groups such as the Rashtriya rifles, and the Romeo Force(all a part of Indian army).
The 2002 Gujarat violence describes a series of communal riots between the communities of Hindus and Muslims that took place in the Indian State of Gujarat between February and May 2002.
According to official figures more than a thousand people were killed in the violence. Independent estimates by rights groups and NGOs place the figure higher, nearer to 2000. More than one hundred and fifty thousand people were displaced.
Organisations such as Human Rights Watch criticized the Indian government for failure to address the resulting humanitarian condition of people, "overwhelming majority of them Muslim," who fled their homes for relief camps in the aftermath of the events.  Many of the investigations and prosecution of those accused of violence during the riots have been opened for reinvestigation and prosecution. The large-scale, collective violence has been generally been described as riots or inter-communal clashes. The perpetrators of the violence as well as Sangh parivar leaders and the Gujarat government maintain that the violence was a spontaneous, uncontrollable, indeed justifiable, reaction to the Godhra train burning. Others have termed it a massacre and an attempted pogrom or genocide of the Muslim population, emphasizing that the violence was largely directed against defenceless people, indiscriminate with regard to age or sex and alleging that it was pre-planned, organised and aided by the local authorities and political leaders.
A 2007 report by the state-run National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS) found that 77% of Indians, or 836 million people, lived on less than 20 rupees per day (USD 0.50 nominal, USD 2.0 in PPP), with most working in "informal labour sector with no job or social security, living in abject poverty."
In the 1990s India woke up to a spate of farmers' suicide. The first state where suicides were reported was Maharashtra. Soon newspapers began to report similar occurrences from Andhra Pradesh. In the beginning it was believed that most of the suicides were happening among the cotton growers, especially those from Vidarbha. A look at the figures given out by the State Crime Records Bureau, however, was sufficient to indicate that it was not just the cotton farmer but farmers as a professional category were suffering, irrespective of their holding size. Moreover, it was not just the farmers from Vidarbha but all over Maharashtra who showed a significantly high suicide rate.
Latest figures shows that in every 8 hours one farmer suicides.
IDMC comment April 2007: The figure of 600,000 comprises groups residing in camps. The number of 600,000 does not include thousands of displaced in the Karbi-Anglong area of Assam and in Manipur where fighting between ethnic groups and counter-insurgency operation have displaced whole villages during the past few years. Many are displaced temporarily and can return after some weeks or months in displacement while an undetermined number is still displaced and receive no assistance. In Tripura, as many as 100-300,000 people of Bengali origin are estimated to have been displaced for the same reasons during the past decade, but no information exists about the return or continued displacement of this group (AHRC, January 2007, “Tripura”). In the state of Chhattisgarh, it is assumed that thousands have escaped the conflict between the authorities and Maoist groups by crossing over to neighbouring states, and they too are not part of the statistics. Nor does the figure comprise the flight of migrant workers, as for example in Assam in January 2007 when Biharis were forced to leave Assam in a matter of days due to threats and killings by local insurgents. The current estimate should therefore be seen as representing the camp-population only and not the internally displaced who largely live unassisted with friends, relatives or blend with other slum residents in the outskirts of the urban areas. It is therefore fair to estimate that the total number of displaced is far higher than the number of 600,000, although it is not possible to give a global estimate.
Baruah 2003, Refugee Survey, p. 46:
"In recent years, internal displacements caused by violent ethno-national conflicts between tribals and denizens in many parts of northeast India have attracted the attention of refugee advocates. While most agree that there is substantial internal displacement in the region, calculating the precise number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has not been easy. Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Mahendra Lama describes the nature of the problem in India as a whole. Political sensitivities prevent the government from releasing data on displacement, he says. But without "a central authority responsible for coordinating data from central and state governments, regular monitoring is not possible in such a huge country". The "nature, frequency and extent of the causes of internal displacement" in India are so varied that it would be a "Herculean task to monitor and record them"."
NNHR, 19 February 2007:
"There are over 6,00,000 conflict induced IDPs in India. Majority of them are indigenous/tribal people including 33,362 displaced persons in Kokrajhar district and 74,123 in Gosaigaon district[…] of Assam; 55,476 Kashmir Pandit families who were displaced due to the conflicts in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990;[…] and about 35,000 Brus (also known as Reangs) from Mizoram who were displaced in October 1997 and took shelter in Tripura. As of 31st December 2006, there were 43,740 displaced persons in the Salwa Judum camps in Chhattisgarh."
AHRC, January 2007, pp.vi-vii:
"About 55,476 Kashmiri Pandit families remained displaced in Jammu and Delhi since 1990s. The government of India and the State government of Jammu and Kashmir regularly announced various schemes to encourage their return but most of the Kashmiri Pandits remained skeptic due to security concerns.
About 200,000 Adivasis, Bodos and Muslims remained displaced in Bodoland areas of Assam since 1994. The killings and displacement started following the signing of the Bodoland Accord in February 1993 and creation of the Bodoland Autonomous Council. Another Accord was signed with the Bodoland Liberation Tigers Force in February 2003 and Bodoland Territorial Council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India was created. But these displaced persons were not rehabilitated so far.
About 35,000 Brus/Reangs were displaced from Mizoram and sought shelter in Tripura in October 1997. The National Human Rights Commission after hearing all the parties issued directions to the State government of Mizoram to take back the Reangs in November 1999. The Election Commission of India also ensured the right to franchise of eligible Brus in the assembly and parliamentary elections held in Mizoram. Most importantly, on 26 April 2005, Mizoram government signed a 10-point Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF). Pursuant to the MoU, the BNLF formally surrendered their arms to the Mizoram police at Tuipuibari
Transit Camp in western Mizoram on 25 July 2005. Yet, not a single Bru was taken back by the end of 2005.
Thousands of others who had been displaced because of conflicts were not provided shelter or housed in camps. Over 45,000 border migrants living along the Line of Actual Control and displaced following the war in Kargil in 1999 had been virtually disowned by the government Jammu and Kashmir and government of India, and were not provided any
the Chhattisgarh government extended official support to the Salwa Judum campaign - an anti-Naxalite movement - started in June 2005 and forcibly displaced thousands of people, mainly Adivasis, into the government managed camps in South Baster. With more than half of the States of India being afflicted by low intensity armed conflicts, the population of the conflict induced IDPs will only grow."