Frederick Douglass

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them..." Frederick Douglass

Monday, June 13, 2011

Illegal Odisha Land Grab Update, June 13

A wall of children has materialized around the tribal lands coveted by Warren Buffet and his South Korean steel company POSCO. I wonder about the wisdom of this, but these people are trying to save their homes as best they can.

This was in the face of around 1,000 policemen armed with lathis, tear gas and rifles threatening dire consequences if the villages were not vacated, making loudspeaker announcements every 15 minutes. Apprehending night or dawn attack by the police, the people have also been maintaining overnight vigils. This situation prevails not for one or two days but for two weeks, during which normal life in the villages is completely disrupted; the area is essentially in a “state of war”. But the people have been strictly peaceful throughout and have been able to withstand the Odisha government's terror tactics that work towards the strategy of acquiring the land for POSCO...

Here's a statement from the resistance:

No doubt, various vile tactics, threats, rumours and sneak attacks will be staged to demoralise the people. But our spirit will not be broken. We know that we fight for justice. Our children know this too, unlike those who so callously accuse us of using them as "human shields." This fight is for justice and democracy, but it is also for our children's future. We do not want to see them reduced to starvation and destitution, living from hand to mouth on daily wages, deprived of their entire future and livelihood by a criminal state. They fight with us because the injustice of POSCO's land grab can be seen even by a ten year old, and it is these ten year olds who have shown the nation what courage really means. We reiterate: neither we nor our children will give up our forests, our water or our lands.

The recent statement by the environmental minister has been met with incredulity and scorn.

When Has The Environment Ministry Believed In
Dialogue, Discussion or Democracy?

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh wants to have his cake and eat it too. Today, calling upon the Orissa government to not use force against the anti-POSCO movement, he declared: "All parties should adhere to democratic norms and procedures... Dialogue and discussion, not coercion is as essential to ecological security as it is to democracy." We agree. Why then does his Ministry consistently break every law that requires such "dialogue and discussion", not least in the case of POSCO itself?

Meanwhile, there is a robust defamatory propaganda campaign in the Indian media against the Maoists. They are a presence in a neighboring Chhattisgarh, and I gather that the government fears their intervention in Odisha or possibly reprisals. The army has established itself there ostensibly to open a training camp. the Maoists believe they are there in preparation for seizing more land.

The news blitzkrieg ranges from the macabre to the comical, and contains some of the usual atrocity stories loyalist media use to stir up outrage against the government's enemies.

Most of the reports center on how ruthless and bloodthirsty they are, but here's perhaps the silliest: The Maoists are anti-love!

They fell in love, and then fell out with CPI(Maoist)

Prakash Rana, 30, and Anjali Hembrom, 25, wanted to marry, but the CPI (Maoist) did not let them. So, after two years of being in love, the two Maoists quit the banned outfit and surrendered to the police.