- #India – More mines, fewer schools in former Maoist stronghold (kractivist.wordpress.com)
Aparna Marandiwith her son in Ranchi after Frontline-, Dec 2012
JHARKHAND is leading from the front to shackle the many democratic people’s movements which have raised their voices against private mining and land acquisition in the State. In an unprecedented move, the State police, in late November and December, arrested several civil rights activists who have been leading the anti-mining struggle with the support of displaced tribal people
On December 8, Aparna Marandi, a long-time Dalit rights activist who has exposed many scams, including the high-profile Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme scam, and has led many demonstrations against land acquisition, was arrested on false charges, some activists say. Aparna, along with her infant son and three other activists, was arrested for her involvement in two different protests, the first of which was held six years ago and the second on November 30.
In custody, Aparna and the other activists were allegedly forced to sign forged documents and were presented before a magistrate only on December 10.
In a similar incident on November 24, the police arrested prominent anti-mining activist Xavier Dias and five of his colleagues for their alleged role in leading a protest against the Tata’s iron ore mine in Noamundi in the West Singbhum district of the State 21 years ago. These are the latest in a spate of arrests, starting with the booking of another civil rights activist, Dayamani Barla. She was leading a protest against land acquisition in Nagri village near Ranchi on October 16 when she was detained in connection with a six-year-old case. Her bail plea has been rejected thrice by the Ranchi High Court.
The arrests were noticed only when they started to happen in an orchestrated way in the space of a month and for no immediate reason. The Jharkhand government has not made any statements so far. However, as of now, these arrests look like a witch-hunt against prominent activists of the State.
Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta
Muzzled in Jharkhand
Unable to deal with rising protests against land acquisition, the Jharkhand government is digging up old cases against activists to silence them. Soumik Mukherjee reports
IN YET another case of witch-hunt against grassroots activists, the Jharkhand government on 24 November arrested anti-mining activist Xavier Dias and five of his colleagues. The State was acting on the basis of a 21-year-old case for their alleged role in leading a protest against Tata’s iron ore mine in Noamundi, in the West Singbhum district. This is the latest in a spate of arrests, which started with Dayamani Barla’s detention amid a crackdown on the land rights movement in Nagri village near Ranchi.
Though Dias and his colleagues were granted bail on 26 November, the arrest raises questions about the intentions of the current BJP-led government in the state. Jharkhand was formed in 2000, after a long movement for separation from Bihar, as a new state meant for the tribal-dominated population of the region.
Dias was a part of the movement for a separate Jharkhand when the Bihar Police filed the case against him in 1991. Ironically, when the state was formed, he was honoured by the state government for his role in the ‘freedom movement’, and assured that he and his colleagues would be acquitted of all the charges against them. “This is a State ploy. They never close the old cases and use them whenever they want to,” says Dias.
The arrest follows a long period of police harassment and intimidation. “The persons arrested with Dias are all mining labourers. They couldn’t stand the police harassment and surrendered before the court along with Dias,” says Gopinath Ghosh, Dias’ colleague.
Dias has dealt serious blows to the pro-mining policies in Jharkhand, infamous for its mining scams, and has vehemently opposed land acquisition for mining projects.
The current scenario of growing people’s movements in the state explains why the BJP-led government is raking up old cases against these activists. Dias’s arrest came when he was preparing for a protest against the expansion of a mine owned by Tata in Noamundi.
The villagers of Noamundi have written a letter to the Central Pollution Control Board alleging that the expansion doesn’t follow the norms set by the agency. “Even the public hearing for land acquisition was a fraud. It was held inside the Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) facility, heavily guarded by the police. The villagers had no say in the entire process,” says a protestor on condition of anonymity.
Dias believes that these efforts to silence dissenting voices will only increase in the future. “People’s movements and dissent among the masses against land grabbing and other anti-Adivasi activities have reached their zenith in this state. The government fears a retaliation from the people, so they’ll keep detaining those who lead such movements,” says Dias.
Earlier last month, Barla, who was leading a protest against land acquisition in Nagri, was detained in connection with a six-year-old case. Since her arrest on 16 October, her bail plea has been rejected thrice by the Ranchi High Court. “Barla is a person who can mobilise the people and the state fears such people. Look at what happened to Sunilam in Madhya Pradesh,” says Dias.
The arrest of Barla and Dias are indications that a state meant for tribals has strayed far away from the original vision with which it was formed. Not only are leaders being detained, criminal cases are also being slapped on minors in Nagri for ‘destroying peace’. All this seems to suggest that it will take a long time for the ‘freedom fighters’ of Jharkhand to achieve what they fought for.
A note sent by Xavier Dias, before they surrendered, to let the world know the details of the case
Noamundi prior to the arrival of mining was a 100% ‘Ho’ Adivasi territory. Today Tatas have a large township with massive mechanised mining including processing plants.
In 1991 on the festival of Holi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holi) a rowdy group of TISCO employees molested a team of Adivasi women labourers on the construction site of the Companies Sports Stadium. The women had joined their hands and told these drunken workers that as their Baa Parob (festival of spring) was not yet performed in their village they cannot join them in the Holi celebrations. According to Ho tradition unless the village head priest Duri performs the Baa puja villagers under his jurisdiction cannot participate in similar festivals elsewhere. It’s a sacrilege. The TISCO workers forced themselves on the women and by applying colour on their breast and genitals molested them.
They all came from Noamundi Basti the original village from where Noamundi gets its name. When the late Gagan Suren, the Munda (Adivasi village chief), of the village came to know of it, he approached the TISCO management and demanded that a case be registered against the workers. TISCO refused and as the Police too come under their control, the Police station refused to accept the FIR (First Information Report) of the Munda.
One of the sub colonies of Noamundi Township, JoJo Hatting comes under the jurisdiction of the Mundi of Noamundi Basti in this case Gagan Suren. Under the power the Munda had then he ask all the workers and their families to quit Jojo Hatting. TISCO found itself saddled with about a hundred refugee families at their door step. TISCO soon relented and asked the Police to file a case. Immediately the TISCO sponsored union affiliated to the central trade union of the Congress Party (INTUC) threatened that if a case is filed, they would go on strike. It should be noted here that this was the first time in the history of this union that they gave such an ultimatum to the management.
In the meanwhile, anger spread among the Ho people. At that time the All Jharkhand Student Union (AJSU) was strong in that area. AJSU supported the demands of the Munda.
On the other side of Noamundi in a different area lies the TISCO Palletising Plant or P Plant as known locally. It was constructed on grabbed lands of the surrounding villages, the main one being Moodhi village. The sacred graves and sacred groves till today rest within the walls of the P Plant and ever since the villagers have been demanding compensation. Seeing their relatives of Noamundi basti under attack and agitating, the villagers of Moodhi village decided to support them by opening another agitation front against TISCO. They locked the P Plant with the workers in and refused entry to the next shift of workers. Hundreds surrounded the P Plant and kept its gates locked for days.
TISCO was hereby being challenged by Adivasis who they consider as sheep to be slaughtered. They could not take it. Their security men (private security force) opened fire on the Adivasis at the P Plant. This act itself let to a big problem for TISCO as they cannot open fire on a crowd. So they got the Police to issue a statement that it was the Police who fired the shots.
As usual in those times the Police issued different criminal cases against the villagers and AJSU activist. As the P Plant gate is adjacent to the railway line TISCO got the Railways to file their case against the same accused.
This group of accused, about fifteen in number, is today reduced to seven persons. The rest all have died much before their time. They are today the unsung heroes of Jharkhand. Their wives and children are till date suffering due to the sacrifice of their breadwinners.
Since 1991, all the accused activists have been on bail (after surrendering and going to jail then!) and they have been attending all court dates for the last two decades.
In 2010 the lawyer handling the case gives up practice to join the Abhijeet Steel Company. He abandoned the case without handing it over to another lawyer. As a result the court has issued an arrest warrant against all the surviving activists. As we were not informed of this warrant, the court converted it into a ‘Kudkhi’ warrant or seizure of properties of the accused.
I am writing this note a day before we all surrender before the Magistrate. In accordance with fair judicial procedure, he should revive our bail. But we are apprehending that he will send us all into judicial custody or jail in order to harass us and threaten the ongoing agitation against the TATA STEEL expansion of their mines in Noamundi. This is the best way the Jharkhand state can appease Tatas at this stage. In the past we have experienced that such repression only goes to strengthen our resolve and movement. Thanks to TATA STEEL
Written by Xavier Dias on 22nd November 2012
(along with the surviving accused including: John Barjo, Basudev Devgum, Moso Munda, Rajaram Tanti and Indu Laguri)
TUESDAY, 02 OCTOBER 2012 16:49PNS | RANCHI
TUESDAY, 02 OCTOBER 2012 16:49PNS | RANCHI
About 11.92 acre of GM land would be given to the company at `40.13 lakh on renewable lease of 30 years. The Cabinet also released 19.59 acres of land at Noamundi for railway siding at West Singhbum district.
Informing about the decision taken by the Cabinet on Monday, Cabinet Secretary NN Pandey said that Value Added Tax (VAT) on PDS kerosene had been lowered form presently 5 per cent to 2 per cent. “Besides this the Cabinet also decided to up VAT from present 14 per cent to 20 per cent on tobacco products,” he said.
To deal with shortage of doctors in the State, the Government has raised retirement age of the medicos working in ESIC hospitals in Jharkhand. Now onwards, the doctors would attain retirement at the age of 65 years instead of 60 years. The Cabinet also approved Jharkhand Municipal Election guideline. It would set rules for election, provisions of operation and polling booths for the urban local bodies.
453 villages left out of the electrification by the RITES and also under RGGVY scheme would be electrified through the JSEB. The Cabinet has approved `91.58 crore for the purpose. 72 gazetted and non- gazetted posts have been created in the Jharkhand High Court besides few others to take forward the e-court project, emphasised by the Supreme Court and the Center for computerisation exercise. It will cost `12.53 lakh annually.
Jaideep Deogharia, TNN | May 18, 2012,
Apart from Cherwalor, five other villages like Kododih, Dharnadiri, Jumbaiburu, Belyatu (chingri) and Hojomdih are also non-existent on the administrative map. These villages are neither included in Noamundi block nor in Manoharpur. Consequently, the villagers are deprived of all possible government schemes and projects. The villagers do not have BPL or ration cards nor do they have the job card of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
None of them have been included on the voters’ list and no villager has ever exercised their franchise. To top it all, this time when Union rural development minister Jairam Rameshannounced the Saranda Action Plan, these six villages were once again left out.
The district administration asked Noamundi BDO Ajay Tirkey to conduct a survey of these villages and submit a report to the deputy commissioner. Talking to TOI, Tirkey admitted that the six villages in Saranda were non-existent till date. “A detailed survey report has been submitted to the DC and we expect these villages will be considered under the action plan,” he said.
Villagers in Jambaiburu have been provided with MGNREGA job cards. Interestingly, the state code, category code and registration number are mentioned there but not the district code, block code and panchayat code. Tupra Surin of Jambaiburu said, “My village comprises nearly 28 families and recently they have been enrolled for jobs under the MGNREGA. We are not sure whom to contact for a job because when we approached government officials of Noamundi, they told us that our village doesn’t come under their jurisdiction,” he added. The village doesn’t have a school or any facility for ration.
After Patras Nag of Cherwalor was picked up by security forces, the CRPF arranged outreach programmes to give away sewing machines and utensils to the villagers. Though the villagers accepted some of the gifts and dividends, later they boycotted such camps to express their anger. “My husband used to work in the mines and was never absent from duty. Once when he was grazing cattle, he was picked up by security forces and sent to jail,” said Gurbari Nag citing the reason for her decision to boycott the goods distribution camp of the CRPF in Thalkobad organized in February this year.
THE TATA STEEL PUBLIC HEARING
DATE0 MARCH 12TH, 2012
time- 11am – 1pm
VENUE- D. A V SCHOOL, Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO ) , Noamundi ( which is a violation of MOEF, history repearing again )
Noamundi is a census town in Pashchimi Singhbhum district in the Indian state of Jharkhand. It is also an administrative ‘block’. It is a small mining town in close to the Orissa border. It lies near to Jamshedpur and 64 km (40 mi) from Chaibasa. Nearby towns include Padapahar, Barajamda, Kharsawan, Gua and Kiriburu.Noamundi, in the West Si n g h b h u m d i s tr i c t o f Jharkhand, is the iron ore
capital of India. Most of the mines here are being run by the Tatas.The area is also one of the most polluted. Red iron ore dust from mining activity around Noamundi covers every surface affecting crops, animals and humans.
For more infromation contact- 09471315165 for more details
“On 12th March their Noamundi mines TATA STEEL is having a public hearing for extension of lease their mines. They have tried it in 20054 and the villagers drove them away. This time they are using all kinds of pressure tactics on Omon Mahila Samiti and JMACC threatening violence etc. The former CM of Jharkhand Babulal Marandi has guaranteed the TATAS that he will get this public hearing done at any cost. Babulal send a journalist to Oman telling them that if they oppose then the State will brand them as Maoist. We fear violence on that day. Journalist who can please help by covering the news. “
What will happen on march 12, 2012, a Repeat of Septemebr 25th 2004
Jeshoda Das is a nurse at the TISCO Mines hospital in Jodda Orissa some km from Noamundi in Jharkhand. For the past two weeks she is being mentally tortured by the GM of TISCO. Her fault? Her elder sister Ambika Das is the leader of Oman Mahila Sangathan leading the movement against the Public Hearing to be held on 12th of March. The GM and others from their personnel department has told her that she will loose her job if Oman does not withdraw the agitation against the mines extension.
Jeshoda has told the GM point blank that they can throw her out but she does not want her people to suffer because of her job.
The other good point in the movement is that a majority of the Adivasi Traditional tribal chiefs known as Mundas are with Oman. TISCO is trying to purchase them. Rice beer and cash is being poured into these villages to divide the people.
WE HAVE ALSO JUST RECEIVED NEWS THAT THE POLICE HAVE BEEN GIVEN ORDERS FOR A LATHI CHARGE. AN ORDER FOR LATHI CHARGE MEANS THAT A FIRING ORDER TOO IS IN PLACE. THE JUST APPOINTED CHAIRMAN OF TATAS CYRUS MISTRY HAS COMPLETED A TOUR OF THE NOAMUNDI MINES THIS WEEEK IN PREPARATION FOR THE PUBLIC HEARING.’
Natural water resources have been drying up or polluted over the decades due to mining and consequent change in weather conditions. Noamundi used to get tons of rain in the early 90s but now there is no method to the rains in Noamundi. Local people attribute this to the devastation of forests and indiscriminate mining.
For a better part of the 20th century, Tata Steel went on to become synonymous with Indian industrialisation, social philanthropy and ethical capitalism. Long before fair labour practices were enshrined in Indian law or adopted in the West, the company introduced an eight-hour working day, equal pay for equal work, maternity benefits, worker’s accident compensation and profit-sharing bonuses. For five decades at the helm of the Tata business empire, JRD Tata was credited with infusing Tata Steel with a “people-first” approach that earned the company its continuing competitive edge – strong loyalty and high productivity from its workers, allowing it to produce good quality steel at low costs. All the leading business figures of the Tata family set personal examples by bequeathing large portions of their personal wealth to philanthropic trusts, run by the Tata holding group for social welfare and advancement.
Fast-forward to the post-liberalisation era of the 90s and slowly, Tata Steel’s ethical tilt began to appear more like an ethical veneer. The company’s head of communications, Sanjay Choudhary had been quick to dismiss Kalinganagar as “a stray incident [that] should not derail a good thing.” In reality, it was not a stray incident. In August 1997, two women were crushed to death during a protest rally against Tata Steel’s proposal to set up a steel plant in Gopalpur-on-Sea, a coastal town in Orissa. Three years later, the company was forced to abandon the proposal following protests from over 20,000 people. In 2000, three tribal youth were shot dead by the police during a peaceful demonstration near a proposed Tata Steel bauxite-mining site in Rayagada district, Orissa. In Kalinganagar itself, since the 2006 incident there have been a dozen more mining-related deaths, of which — were due to protests against Tata Steel, according to news reports.
In 2004 in Noamundi, the September 25 public hearing was held inside the premises of the Tata Iron and Steel Company — something which was a violation of the Environment Ministry’s statutory norms. According to Chokro Khandait of the Chaibasa-based Jharkhand Organisation for Human Rights (JOHAR), the villagers fear TISCO’s expanded mining operations will lead to the loss of their lands. They wanted to speak out in the public hearing, to air their views. But the police stopped them before they could come near the premises. But according to TATA official Release -300 people from nearby villages attended the hearing , which actually mostly TISCO employees.
SO, now what will TATA STEEL do, hire goons, no why should they when they have the State support.
But how come, the legality of this meeting is not questioned if it is against the Environment Ministry’s statutory norms.
Please share widely THE TATA STEEL PUBLIC HEARING FOR EXTENSION OF LEASE IS ILLEGAL, until and unless the affected villagers are heard and convinced , the mining lease cannot be extended.
Lets all PROTEST
so please share widely on your blog, website, twitter, Fb page