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India: twelve protestors killed in police shooting

India: twelve protestors killed in police shooting

By Parwini Zora - World Socialist Web Site
17 January 2006

Twelve tribal villagers in India were shot dead by police on January 2 during a demonstration against the development of the Kalinga Nagar steel complex in the eastern state of Orissa. The impoverished protestors were demanding a halt to construction by steel developers on their traditional land. A 13-year-old boy and three women were among those killed.

In 1992, the local government in Orissa seized the tribal land, paying the villagers a pittance in compensation. The 12,000-acre area was then designated as a steel complex, and lucrative leasing contracts were negotiated with local and foreign investors. Local people have repeatedly protested against the decision over the past decade.

The massacre on January 2 occurred as villagers staged a demonstration against the construction of a boundary wall for a site leased to TATA Steel, India’s largest private steel producer. The local government, led by a coalition of the right-wing nationalist Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP), dispatched several hundred police to secure the site. According to Frontline magazine: “There were strict instructions from the State Secretariat to facilitate the construction, and the district administration was more than eager to obey.”

After tear gas and rubber bullets failed to disperse the crowd, police opened fire against the tribal people, some of whom were armed with bows and arrows and fought back against the police attack. As well as the 12 protestors, a policeman was killed in the hour-long clash. About 25 people were wounded, including four police.

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