Alleging that it was a well-planned conspiracy, they demand a judicial probe into the death of a tribal youth

Activists of Niyamgiri Surakshya Samity (NSS) held a demonstration in front of Kalyansinghpur police station in Rayagada district of Odisha to protest against killing of tribal youth Monda Kadrika during police firing on February 27 and the State government’s fresh attempts for bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hills.

These demonstrators, mostly Dongria tribals, included large number of women and were led by NSS leaders Dadhi Pushika, Kumuti Majhi and advisers of the organisation Prafulla Samantra, Lingaraj Azad. They also organised a memorial meeting for Monda. They demanded a judicial enquiry into Kadrika’s killing alleging that it was a planned effort to repress voice of tribals by branding them Maoists. The police had claimed that Kadrika had been killed on February 27 during an exchange of fire between the Maoists and security forces. But according to his family members and villagers, Kadrika was falsely implicated.

His brother had lodged a complaint at Kalyansinghpur police station alleging that Kadrika was killed in a fake encounter. Demonstrators said that the police had not accepted the complaint as FIR and started investigation. They demanded legal action against those police personnel involved in this killing. Meanwhile, the Odisha Human Rights Commission has sought report regarding the incident after human rights activists approached it.

Mr Samantra and Mr Azad were of the opinion that there was no need for the Odisha government to approach the Supreme Court for holding gram sabhas again in Niyamgiri hills region for bauxite mining in the region. “The Odisha government has no alumina project of its own and the current price of bauxite ore in international market is too low. Yet the Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) is trying hard to mine for bauxite in Niyamgiri hills. It hints at tacit efforts of the Odisha government to ensure raw material supply to Vedanta’s alumina refinery in Kalahandi district,” said Mr Samantra. They also alleged that the Odisha government was wrongly using public money to approach the apex court for private company like the Vedanta Alumina Limited.

On April 18, 2013, a two-member Bench of Supreme Court, while disposing of a petition by OMC, had concluded that gram sabhas/village councils of Niyamgiri region will take a final decision whether mining would affect their religious, cultural and other rights or not as per the Forest Rights Act, 2006. The gram sabhas were held in 12 villages in Niyamgiri region in 2013 and they had rejected the mining proposal. “Now after two-and-a-half years, the Odisha government claims that the gram sabhas were not conducted properly, which hints at some hidden agenda behind the recent bid,” said Mr Samantra.