Writes to NHRC and OHRC Demanding Urgent intervention
New Delhi, May 3, 2017 : NAPM condemns the continued attempts by the Odisha State to defeat the struggle of Dongria tribes struggle to protect Niyamgiri hills. The latest action in the ongoing saga of witch-hunt and harassment is arrest and abduction of Kuni Sikaka from the village Gorata, in Niyamgiri hills, by the security forces. Last night Muniguda police and paramilitary forces raided Gorata, the village of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS) leader Dodi Pusika and abducted his daughter-in-law Kuni Sikaka, who is also the niece of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti leader Lado Sikaka. This comes closely after the annual report of Home Ministry suggested that the struggles of the Dongrias to protect Niyamgiri hills by NSS is backed by maoists and NSS is a front organisation of theirs. This attempt at maligning the image of the NSS has faced rebuttal not only from the NSS but also from many renowned persons across the country, who have known of the struggle of the Dongrias against the Vedanta mining since 2003.
NAPM wrote to the Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission and Odisha Human Rights Commission and said, “we believe, the action of the security forces follows the Home Ministry report and is part of a larger design to suppress the democratic and non-violent struggles of the Dongrias, Jharania and kutia tribes. The police claims that Kumi Sikaka is a hardcore Maoist rebel with a prize on her head and anyone trying to prove otherwise would be seen as a Maoist. This is not only false but a continuation of the agencies ploy to weaken the struggle of the Dongrias, since Kunni Sikaka is niece of Lado Sikaka, leader of NSS, and from Lakhpadar village. She is married to Jagili Pusika, the son of Dodi Pusika, also a vocal anti Vedanta activist.”
The letter further added that, several other tribal activists are in jail on fabricated charges of being Maoists for several months and years now, case being that of youth leader Dasuru and the teenaged Saibo, both from Gorata village. This is in continuation of the State’s attempt at silencing the opposition against the State’s agenda of giving away Niyamgiri hills to the Vedanta Corporation.
It needs to be noted that in March, 2016 Supreme Court scrapped the petition filed by state owned mining company Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) to consider afresh the possibility of holding gram sabhas to decide bauxite mining on top of Niyamgiri hills, since gram sabhas held in July-August 2013 had decided against it. The struggle of the NSS has been historic in their victory against the powerful corporation like Vedanta. Their struggle has received wide recognition, to an extent that Prafulla Samantara, who led the legal fight, complementing the ground struggle, has just awarded, Goldman Prize, also known as Nobel Prize for Environment.
NAPM is concerned about the wellbeing and security of Kumi Sikaka and has urged the Rights Commission to intervene immediately and requested them to do the following :
1. Seek a report from the Government of Odisha, ensure the wellbeing and immediate release of Kumi Sikaka.
2. Seek a detailed report and take action on falsely implicated and imprisoned Dongria tribals associated with the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, who have been languishing in jail for months and years now.
3. Take Strict Action against the Security officials who are violating the laws and not following the guidelines led by your Honour while arresting women.
We extend our solidarity to the struggling Dongrias of the Niyamgiri hills and stand by them in this vilification attempt of the government to weaken their struggle. NSS is a democratic and non-violent struggle of the indigenous people to protect mother earth from corporate greed and loot.