Probe killing of two adivasi leaders in Orissa: Amnesty International
Posted by Admin on December 7, 2009
New Delhi: The authorities in the eastern Indian state of Orissa must ensure independent,
credible and impartial investigation into the killings of two adivasi leaders by police and paramilitary personnel in Narayanpatna on 20 November 2009, Amnesty International demanded on December 2.
In a statement on Wednesday, the human rights group urged the Government of Orissa to immediately order an independent, impartial and thorough investigation into the use of force by the police and ensure that any officer suspected of using force unnecessarily or excessively, including those who ordered the shooting or were otherwise responsible, is prosecuted in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness.
The deceased – Singanna and Andrew Nachika – were peacefully protesting outside the Narayanpatna police station in Koraput district along with 80-100 other members of an indigenous people’s movement – Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS). The protestors demanded that the police stop harassing the adivasi communities who have been campaigning for an end to illegal mining in the area.
“Eyewitnesses have informed Amnesty International that the police firing began when one of the leaders, Singanna, entered the police station premises to talk with officials. Another leader, Andrew Nachika, was also shot dead and at least eight other protestors sustained bullet injuries as police and paramilitary forces continued their unprovoked firing at the unarmed and fleeing protestors. The unnecessary use of force on adivasi protestors resulted in at least two deaths. The State authorities are obligated, under international treaties to which India is party, to respect and protect the right to life at all times. In an attempt to trace the wounded protestors, police raided a number of villages and arrested at least 50 other adivasi CMAS supporters. Amnesty International understands that those arrested are accused of several offences including those under Section 121 (waging war against the State) and Section 124A (sedition) as the police have claimed that the CMAS has links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist),” the statement read.
The CMAS is a social movement of Adivasi communities in south-western Orissa which has been campaigning, over the last year, against illegal mining in their lands and habitats by non-Adivasis and production and consumption of illegal liquor in the region. Since May last, the CMAS has intensified its campaign, leading to some non-Adivasi families fleeing their villages and attacks against CMAS supporters.
A seven-member fact-finding team of social and political activists subsequently visited Narayanpatna to inquire into the killings and related arrests. Their report released at a press conference in Orissa’s capital Bhubaneswar on 27 November rejected the police claim of a CMAS-Maoist link and accused the police officials of unnecessary use of force and arbitrary arrests. On 29 November, the police arrested one of the members of the fact-finding team, Tapan Mishra claiming that he provided arms training to the banned Maoists. Tapan Mishra is an activist of the Communist Party of India (Maoist-Leninist) (Kanu Sanyal group) – a recognised political party.
The rights group has also demanded the state government to provide reparations to the families of those killed, and to those who suffered injuries or other harm as a result of unnecessary use of force by police.
The government should ensure that police officials as far as possible apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms which should be used only if other means remain ineffective, and then only to the minimum extent required, and that firearms may be used only in self-defence or the defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, and only when less extreme means are insufficient, the group demanded.