Asian Centre for Human Rights

Dedicated to promotion and protection of human rights in Asia



I. Overview

Ruled by the Biju Janata Dal, Orissa is close to Bihar in terms of lawlessness. While 490 kidnapping cases were registered in 2003, the number stood at 279 till June 2004. [1] Fifty out of the 147 Members of Legislative Assembly reportedly have cases registered with the police while six have non-bailable warrants against them. [2]

The security forces have been responsible for arbitrary arrest, torture, custodial death, rape and extrajudicial killings.

Though the State government of Orissa and the People’s War Group (PWG) expressed the desire to sit for dialogue, no dialogue could be held at the end of 2004. The talks suffered further setback when the police arrested 18 Adivasis on 16 September 2004 near Govindapali Ghat in Malkangiri district while they were returning along with 70 others after participating in a public rally in Bhubaneswar. [3]

The Advasis continued to live under the threats of forced eviction and land alienation. They suffered from acute poverty, disease, malnutrition and starvation deaths. Deprived of minor forest produce, thousands of them have been reportedly migrating to outside of Orissa.

Poverty severely impacts upon the indigenous peoples’ access to justice. Duga Munda of Patadiha village in Sundergarh district had to spend 11 years in jail as he was too poor to pay for his bail bond of Rs 5000 until the Orissa High Court ordered his release on 8 November 2004. [4] The Orissa government also failed to release Justice P K Misra Commission of Inquiry Report into the killing of three Adivasis in police firing on 16 December 2000 at Kashipur. They were protesting against the appropriation of their lands for Utkal Alumina’s bauxite mine and refinery, promoted by the Aditya Birla Group and Canadian mining giant Alcan. The report was reportedly submitted on 17 January 2003. [5]

Impunity contributes to growing atrocities against the Dalits by the upper castes. Of the 4,084 cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes recorded in the State during the period of 1 March 2000 and 1 May 2004, charge-sheets have been submitted in only 2,518 of these cases. While five persons have been convicted of such charges during 2000, four have been convicted in 2001 and one each in 2002 and 2003 [6]

[1] .  State records 469 murders, 276 rape cases from Jan-May this year: CM, The Pragativadi, 14 July 2004

[2] . Six Orissa MLAs have NBWs against them, 50 face cases, The Pioneer, 1 November 2004

[3] . 18 Naxalites detained at Malkangiri, The Paragativadi, 18 September 2004

[4] . Tribal spends 11 years in jail despite bail order, Deccan Herald 10 November 2004

[5] . Maikanch shootout incident: Govt asked to submit report, The Pragativadi, 4 August 2004

[6] . Over 4,000 cases of atrocities against SCs recorded, The Pragativadi, 21 July 2004