July 17, 2016

CPI(M) Demands Action on Security Personnel for Gruesome Killing of Adivasis

GUMUDUMAHA, so far an unknown adivasi village of Kandhamal district in Odisha has attracted attention all over the country for killing five innocent adivasis. CRPF and state SOG personnel termed them as Maoists and killed them on July 8th night. This is the third such incident in the state of Odisha in a year, of killing innocent people in the name of Maoists. The village Gumudumaha is in the border of Kalahandi district with 60 houses surrounded by hills and forests. The connectivity to the main road is at about 16 kilometres. It is a very inaccessible area. The village has a school, but no teacher. Villagers have no access to drinking water. None of them are provided with Indira Awaas houses. Land has been distributed under Forest Rights Act, but the extent is maximum up to 0.050 acres only. Under MNREGA, hardly they get 60 to 70 days of work in a year. The state government promise of a minimum wage of Rs 200 per day still remains a dream. The wage amount is hardly Rs 120-130 per day in other government works. Apart from cultivation in small land holdings, the villagers mainly depend on forest for which they face the wrath of the forest officials daily. Many youth of the village leave for other states in search of manual work. They live a life of uncertainty and humiliation. On the fateful night of July 8, by 8.30 am, a group of people from the village Gumudumaha were returning from Baliguguda State Bank of India branch drawing their arrear wage dues under MNREGA work. About seventeen people in one auto rickshaw were returning to the village. Just before half a kilometre from the village, the auto rickshaw got struck in the mud and the people got down lift the auto and pushed it to the road. Immediately when the vehicle started, a bullet from the left side pierced the rear wheel of the auto rickshaw followed with spray of bullets from the same side, instantly killing five adivasis including a less than two year old male child who was accompanying his mother. The mother survived the bullet injuries but the child died. A total of five people including three women, one former Nayab sarpanch and the male child died. Four critically injured people with bullets in their bodies were shifted to Medical College Hospital at Berhampur. The usual police story was circulated soon after the incident that while the security personnel were engaged in cross firing with the Maoists, the auto richshaw rushed in between and got trapped in the firing. This is a blatant lie. The same story was also circulated earlier in July 2015 when the police killed a couple in village Pangalpadar in Kotagada Police station limits of Kandhamal. The parents of two sons who were working as daily wage earners in Kerala were talking over mobile phone and were shot by the police from zero distance, as they thought these people were Maoists. In fact, the parents went to the hill to get mobile connectivity and were killed. Then again in Kalahandi district Karlapat jungles, the same type of firing and killing of innocent adivasis was repeated. In the name of fighting the Maoist violence, both the central and state governments are unleashing a reign of terror in the tribal dominated areas of the state. The entire adivasi community is treated suspiciously and any voice that is raised is branded as that of Maoist. The police and its cannibal officials are in a competitive mode to play with the blood of the adivasis. No tangible action has been initiated so far against the officials, due to which Kandhamal like incidents are on the rise in the state. Immediately after the killing of adivasis, CPI(M) Odisha state committee issued a statement condemning the police action as a cold blooded murder and demanded the arrest of the responsible security personnel under charges of murder; compensation of Rs 20 Lakhs to the families whose family members were killed. On July 10, a Party delegation with Ali Kishor Patnaik, CPI(M) secretary of Odisha state committee and comrades of Ganjam district visited the hospital where the injured were being treated. It was found that all the injured persons who were also in a mental trauma, were sleeping on the floor unattended; what to speak of the proper treatment! The protest action by CPI(M) started from 10th itself at Bhubaneswar followed with demonstrations at Berhampur, Cuttack, Rourkela, Nayagarh which were attended by Party leaders. On July 14, a state level delegation with Ali Kishor Patnaik, Jaganath Mishro, Suresh Panigrahi, state secretariat members, Abhiram Behera and Salrai Marandi, state committee members and leader of Odisha Adivasi Adhikar Manch, adivasi leader Satya Mandal, Biswajit Chatterjee, secretary Kalahandi district committee visited the village. CPI(M) Odisha state committee has called upon all its units to hold protests all over the state. While the CPI(M) is constantly raising on the basic issues of the adivasis for their livelihood, the other parties like the BJP are trying to take political mileage. Due to mounting pressure from all over the state, the shaky Naveen Patnaik government has ordered a judicial enquiry and announced a compensation of Rs 7 akhs and other benefits like houses etc. Also an SIT under HRPC Cell of the state police to investigate under the supervision of additional DG has been ordered. As panchayat elections in the state are not far away, the BJD government has declared these measures.