Lok Shakti Abhijan Demands Action Against Police For Torture On Lado Sikaka

Orissa Police is desperately trying to establish links with the Dongria Kondh tribal movement and the Maoists in order to facilitate repressive measures that will clear all opposition from the tribe to the mining exploitation of Niyamagiri, says a press note issued by Prafulla Samantara, President, Lok Shakti Abhijan, advancing his argument on experience of Lado Sikaka, the tribal leader of the Dongria Kondh community, who was kidnapped by Police on August 9 and thrown out of their vehicle at Kalyansingpur town in the afternoon of August 12 from where he had to walk 10 km to reach his home.

According to Sri Samantara, Sikaka was tortured by the police who forced him to sign a declaration that he would “not damage public or private property anymore”.

This clever statement by police is to implicate him in cases he was not involved in and to easily frame him up in the future also, fears Samantara.

During interrogation, the press note says,

“Lado was repeatedly asked about Maoist presence in Niyamgiri. Lado strongly denied the allegations despite being beaten. Even under great duress he has made it clear that he and his community will not give up their struggle against the Vedanta’s proposed mining of their sacred mountain Niyamgiri. Later when he was released he was handed over the cellphones and car keys that were snatched away from activists present during Lado’s abduction, which vindicates Sidhart Naik’s written complaint to the Lanjigarh police station.

Last month two platoons of para-military forces had carried out a combing operation in Lado’s village, Lakhpadar and had beaten up Sana Sikaka (who was also abducted with Lado and released in a few hours).

The non-violent movement of the Dongria Kondh is now being given the Maoist tag only to facilitate Vedanta’s mining plans that will devastate the life, livelihood and environment of the people.

There is no proof of any Maoist insurgency happening in the Niyamgiri hills ever. So why is the police torturing innocent people fighting for their rights and treating them worse than hardcore criminals?

The Dongria Kondh are one of the most endangered communities in the world and they have been promised special protection by the Indian Constitution. They are a Primitive Tribal Group. Abducting and torturing a leader of such a community is not only a grave violation of the Indian Constitution, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people. It is a violent offense against a day that the world observes as World Indigenous People’s Day (9 Aug).

While the police is trying to justify its actions by faking Maoist presence in Niyamgiri it is clear that all those who deposed strongly against Vedanta in front of the N C Saxena Committee are being targetted. Already Arsee Majhi, anti Vedanta tribal activist from
Bandhaguda village in Lanjigarh has been murdered the very day he had strongly criticized Vedanta in front of the Saxena Committee. Many villagers have also been arrested under false charges in the area. So, Lado’s abduction by the police has nothing to do with the Maoists as there is no Maoist presence in the area. This is being cooked up by the police to justify such torture of members of a Primitive Tribal Group.

The Police has to stop acting like the mercenary agent of Vedanta and rather should ensure protection of the tribals from the goons of Vedanta.

We demand that the Central Government should carry out a thorough investigation (as State Govt is favorably disposed towards Vedanta instead of citizens) to find out who ordered the abduction of Lado Sikaka and punish all those involved in the inhuman treatment him, the main leader of the Dongria Kondh’s anti mining/anti Vedanta movement. The Orissa Government should strictly order the Police to make a public statement as to why they abducted Lado in such a manner and why they refused to acknowledge that he was in their custody when asked by media persons.

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