Lada Sikaka, president of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, had alleged at a press conference in Bhubaneswar last month that he was arbitrarily picked up, detained and beaten up by Odisha police.Lada Sikaka, president of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, had alleged at a press conference in Bhubaneswar last month that he was arbitrarily picked up, detained and beaten up by Odisha police.   | Photo Credit: File photo

Amnesty seeks probe into Odisha police conduct

Amnesty India has urged the Odisha government to stop police atrocities on indigenous Dongria Kondh community by branding them as CPI(Maoist) cadres.

“Allegations of police intimidation and ill-treatment of the Dongria Kondh community in the Niyamgiri hills are deeply disturbing. It is unacceptable that the police ill-treat and abuse people. The authorities should carry out a prompt and impartial investigation into the police conduct,” said Manohar Chauhan, senior campaigner of Amnesty India, in a statement here.

“Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, a community-led organisation that opposes mining in the Niyamgiri hills, had alleged that police arbitrarily pick up, detain and ill-treat members of the community, at a press conference on October 25. Lada Sikaka, president of NSS, claimed that he was picked up by the local police from the old market in Lanjigarh and taken to a police station where he was brutally beaten,” Mr. Chauhan pointed out.

Right to protest

According to him there were many instances of police highhandedness reported from the Niyamgiri hill range.

The Kalahandi administration had forced the NSS to cancel a peaceful demonstration against the police on October 23 last year.

“People have a right to peaceful protest under the Constitution of India and international law. The authorities have a duty to listen to the voices of the indigenous Dongria Kondh community and ensure that their rights are upheld,” said Mr. Chauhan.

The particularly vulnerable tribal group had unanimously voted against proposed bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills in 2013. Since then the security forces have been going against the community, said the Amnesty campaigner.

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