BHUBANESWAR: Concerned Citizens Committee (CCC), a forum of civil society leaders, on Wednesday accused police of "brutal use" of force to evict tribals from their lands at Kalinga Nagar in Jajpur district.
"At least 30-40 tribals have sustained serious bullet injuries in police firing on Tuesday. Four of them are critical and battling for life in hospital. The district administration says only rubber bullets were fired at the crowd to prevent them from attacking the police. But the bloody wounds do not prove to be handy work of only rubber bullets," Justice Choudhury Pratap Mishra, head of the forum, said at a crowded press conference here.
A retired high court judge, Justice Mishra headed a four-member team that visited Kalinga Nagar on Tuesday afternoon soon after the police resorted to lathicharge and lobbed teargas cells at the tribals, besides firing rubber bullets.
Kalinga Nagar is in boil since past few days as the district administration is hell bent on construction of a common corridor to facilitate rail and road links to the Kalinga Nagar industrial complex where more than one and half a dozen steel industries are coming up.
The tribals are demanding land for land and adequate financial compensation for displacement.
The anti-displacement forum, Visthapan Virodhi Jana Manch [VVJM] secretary Rabindra Jarika said on Wednesday that the tribals were betrayed as the government - instead of sticking to its promise to continue dialogue - used force to acquire the land.
At least 40 frontline leaders of the VVJM have been put behind bars recently on charges of instigating violence and attacking police.
The area has virtually turned into a battle field with 29 platoons of armed police forces, two platoons of NSG commandoes and 70 top police officers being deployed their to facilitate land acquisition.
"The administration has trampled our human rights. We can no more continue our protest in the face of brutal use of force. We would rather commit mass suicide," VVJM secretary Mr Jarika said.
The CCC, while seeking immediate intervention of the chief minister Naveen Patnaik, urged him to order immediately halt to the police action in Kalinga Nagar. Besides, it demanded Rs 1 lakh compensation for each injured individual.
Meanwhile, Jajpur district administration did not allow political leaders from the Opposition Congress and BJP as well as media personSl to visit Kalinga Nagar.
(Economic Times, 31st March)