Ruled by Biju Janata Dal, Orissa remained a highly lawless State with high incidence of atrocities against the Adivasis, the indigenous peoples. Orissa was increasingly affected by the Naxalite conflict.
Infant mortality rate in Orissa was the highest in India. According to the data of 2003 available with the Union Home Ministry, Orissa topped the list of States with more than 80 per cent infant mortality rate. While Orissa registered 83 per cent infant mortality rate in 2003, Madhya Pradesh registered 82 per cent. Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan registered 76 and 75 per cent infant mortality.
According to the estimates of Asian Centre for Human Rights, a total of 25 persons including four civilians, 17 alleged Naxalites and four security personnel were killed in the Naxalite conflict in the State in 2006. The State Home Ministry stated that Maoists were active in 14 of the 30 districts. The Naxal-affected districts included Malkangiri, Rayagada, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Gajapati, Ganjam, Kandhamal, Sambalpur, Deogarh, Sundargarh, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur and Dhenkanal.
On 24 March 2006, the Maoists attacked the local police station, sub-jail, treasury, tehsil office and a telecom tower, freed 40 prisoners and killed three policemen in R Udayagiri town of Gajapati district.
On 9 June 2006, Orissa Government banned the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and seven of its frontal affiliated organisations namely Daman Pratirodh Manch, Revolutionary Democratic Front, Chasi Mulia Samiti, Kui Labang Sangh, Jananatya Mandali, Krantikari Kisan Samiti and Bal Sangram. The State Government approved a policy for the rehabilitation of the surrendered Naxals. The rehabilitation package consisted of payment up to Rs 10,000 on acceptance of surrender, payment up to Rs 20,000 for surrendering arms and ammunition, allotment of homestead land, house building grant up to Rs 25,000, Rs 15,000 for marriage, assistance to take loan up to Rs 2 lakh from banks on which there will be no interest for two years, subsidy up to Rs 50,000 after repayment of 75 per cent of the loan, free medical treatment in government hospitals within the State and cost of fees and textbooks for their children's study up to high school.
Infant mortality rate was highest in Orissa. According to the data of 2003 available with the Union Home Ministry, Orissa topped the list of states with more than 80 per cent infant mortality rate. While Orissa registered 83 per cent infant mortality rate in 2003, Madhya Pradesh registered 82 per cent infant mortality rate. Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan registered 76 and 75 per cent infant mortality rate respectively in 2003.
By the end of December 2006, there were six vacancies in the Orissa High Court while there were 69 vacancies at the District and Subordinates Courts as on 30 September 2006. A total of 2,15,351 cases were pending with the Orissa High Court and a total of 9,86,538 cases were pending with the District and Subordinate Courts as on 30 September 2006.
Fakir Mallik, an undertrial prisoner lodged in Choudwar circle jail near Cuttack, spent more than seven years in jail on charges of docoity and house trespass as in November 2006. Yet he continued to languish in the jail as his trial was not completed. Apart from Mallik, there were several other undertrial prisoners who had spent more than five years in jail. As per statistics of State Home Department, there were at least 1,666 undertrial prisoners who had been in different jails for more than one year.
The security forces were responsible for extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrest, detention and torture. According to State Government estimates, as many as 137 persons lost their lives in various incidents of firing by the security forces during 1980-2005.
Kalinga Nagar massacre:
Arbitrary violation of the right to life was an integral part of maintenance of law and order especially in respect of any unrest involving indigenous/tribal peoples. The killing of 14 tribals in indiscriminate police firing at Kalinga Nagar, Orissa on 2 January 2006 was one of the worst cases of violations of the right to life perpetrated by the security forces during the year 2006.
According to a fact-finding team of Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, when the Tata Iron and Steel Co Ltd with the help of the district administration undertook the leveling of the land, where their industrial plant was to come up at Kalinganagar, Orissa, on 2 January 2006, about 300-400 Adivasi protestors, including women and children, wanted to enter the rope cordon. The police tried to stop them and used “stun shells” along with tear gas shells and rubber bullets. Later, in the melee, one policeman, Gopabandhu Mohanty, slipped and fell into the hands of the protesting tribals and was killed by the angry crowd.
In order to avenge the killing of Mr Mohanty, other policemen ran amok and fired indiscriminately in the presence of District Collector, Mr Saswat Mishra and Superintendent of Police, Mr Binoytosh Mishra. Among the victims, two were shot in the back apparently while trying to flee, and two others were shot in the forehead from point-blank range.
Out of the 14 persons killed in total, the dead bodies of six persons were sent for autopsy. In a further act of barbarism, the five dead bodies handed over to the Adivasis after post mortem had their palms chopped off from their wrists without the consent of the relatives of the deceased on the pretext of taking fingerprints. In addition, the genital organs of all six, including a woman, were mutilated during post mortem.
On 3 January 2006, the Orissa State Government announced a judicial inquiry under the Commission of Inquiry Act of 1952 and the notification was issued on 23 February 2006 to appoint Justice A.S. Naidu as the head of the inquiry commission. But Justice A.S. Naidu Commission had to adjourn its hearing as soon as it started the inquiry following the death of two more tribals- Shyam Gagrai and Sanjoy Soy - injured in the police firing as the Orissa government failed to issue a notification to bring these two tribals' death under purview of the inquiry commission.
On 13 June 2006, Justice A S Naidu Commission visited the district hospital at Jajpur where the post mortems of the tribals were conducted and summoned the three suspended doctors and the Chief District Medical Officer. On 14 June 2006, the Judicial Commission met the tribal representatives at Kalinga Nagar.
On 15 October 2006, while deposing before the Commission, Superintendent of Police of Jajpur, Mr Binoytosh Mishra defended the police action. He claimed that the agitators had ‘fiercely' attacked the policemen with axes, bows and arrows. However, a fact finding team of Peoples' Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in its report stated that all the four injured policemen - Shri R.R. Naupani, Shri B.S. Gerung, Shri Asbahadur Gum and Shri H.B. Newar- undergoing treatment at Medical College Hospital, Cuttack “suffered injuries caused by lathis. There was no sign of injuries caused by arrow”.
The State Government ordered suspension of three senior doctors, Head of the Department of Anesthesia, Dr Bobekanda Swain; Head of the Department of Surgery, Dr Shantanu Kumar Sahu; and Head of the Department of Orthopedics, Dr. Anup Kumar Nathsharma, who had performed the post mortem of the dead bodies. But no action was taken against any police official. On 6 January 2006, the State government merely transferred Jajpur District Collector, Saswat Mishra and Superintendent of Police, Binoytosh Mishra.
Justice AS Naidu Commission did not complete its inquiry by the end of 2006.
Other instances of killings
There were also other instances of killings. On 2 January 2006, an unarmed fisherman from West Bengal, Ganesh Das was reportedly killed in unprovoked firing by a joint patrol team of the Orissa forest department and police along the Gahirmatha Coast in Kendrapara district.
On the night of 7 July 2006, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel shot dead Siri Majhi, a landless tribal daily wage earner, in Rayagada when he went to defalcate. Next morning police informed Mali Palekka, the wife of the deceased that her husband was injured in an encounter with the the security forces and was arrested on the charges of being a Naxalite. According to the police, the deceased succumbed to his bullet injuries during the night. However, in a complaint before the Orissa Human Rights Commission, the deceased's wife claimed that her husband was suffering from dysentery and had gone to defalcate when he was shot dead. She asserted that her husband was not involved with any political party or AOG.
The Naxalites were responsible for gross violations of international humanitarian laws including killing, abduction, etc.
Asian Centre for Human Rights recorded killing of four civilians and four security forces in 2006. The victims included Kartik Roy, village head of MV-66 village under Kalimela police station in Malkangiri district on 12 October 2006, Bandhu Behera who was killed at Korkunda village in Malkangiri district on 30 October 2006, and Sibanand Jena who was killed by alleged Naxalites in Kalimela area in Malkangiri district on the suspicion of being a police informer on 7 December 2006.
The Naxalites also resorted to kidnapping. On 9 August 2006, Binod Kumar Kisan, a junior engineer in Mohana block, and Prasad Patnaik, a peon with the irrigation department in Bhubaneswar were kidnapped by alleged Naxalites in Gajapati district.
The individuals and companies responsible for construction of roads and communications were specifically targeted. On 19 July 2006, contractor P Dixit and labourers involved in road construction work under the Pradhan Mantri Gramya Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) were injured after being assaulted by alleged Naxalites at Grunamguda village in Maramkunda panchayat under Motu Police Station in Malkangiri district. They Naxalites also set ablaze at least three vehicles.
The Naxalites also attacked the railways. On 15 October 2006, alleged Naxalites set ablaze three engines of a goods train near Tupadihi under K Bolanga police station in Sundargarh district.
The Dalits' rights continued to be suppressed and they continued to be denied access to public places. The Dalits were barred from entering the Jagannath temple at Keredagada village in Kendrapara district in violation of the Orissa High Court order of 5 December 2006 allowing their entry and worship in the temple. Earlier in 2005, a section of Dalit women were penalised for having “intruded” upon the temple, thereby “desecrating” the sanctity of the deity.
On 20 October 2006, a 16-year-old Dalit girl Ranjita Sethy, daughter of Pravati Sethy of Paghira village in Rampha panchayat under Bari police station in Kendrapara district was reportedly beaten up by upper caste men while she was going to take water from the village tubewell. The police registered a case against the accused under Sections 294, 354, 323, 506, 152 and 34 Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Tribal-dominated villages lacked schools. In Korapat, at least 114 children from the tribal community were on the verge of discontinuing their studies as the only school near their village was on the threat of closure due to government's apathy. The State Government failed to provide grants to the school since its inception in 1992.
Water-borne diseases, poor sanitation and hygiene continued to take toll in tribal colonies. Six people, two of them children, reportedly died of water-borne diseases at the Gobargahati Rehabilitation Colony in Kalinga Nagar in 2005. These colonies being set up by Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation, the nodal agency of the government for acquiring land, lacks basic facilities including health care, school, electricity, etc. The government installed tube wells were non-funtional. People have no option but to drink stagnant water from the village pond. Several people had moved out to other states in search of jobs.
On 19 February 2006, Nandini Munda, a tribal destitute, was reportedly gangraped and killed before her four-year-old son at Gariapur village in the Jajpur Municipality area.
Tribals were harassed by security forecs in the name of containing Maoist violence. In October 2006, in a complaint to the Orissa Human Rights Commission, tribals from at least 12 villages under R. Udaygiri and Adaba police stations of Gajapati district in south Orissa stated that the security forces have been committing excesses on them in the name of containing Maoist violence. The villagers alleged that the Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF) jawans had been frequently raiding the tribal villages, beating up the villagers and misbehave with women.
The tribals continued to be targets of conversion. On 9 April 2006, 342 people belonging to 74 tribal families were converted to Hinduism in a religious congregation organised by the Sangh Parivar at Chakapad village in Kandhamal district. Earlier, on 16 January 2006, at least 136 tribals were converted to Hinduism from Christianity by the Rourkela Unit of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal at a “reconversion ceremony” performed at Tumbei village under Gurundia police station in Rourkela.
Starvation deaths continued to be reported from tribal areas. On 5 June 2006, a tribal woman identified as Amin Bhuinya of Hariharpur village reportedly died of starvation in Deogarh district. On 24 March 2006, another woman identified as Kanaka Baral died due to starvation in Deogarh district headquarters hospital, a day after selling her 8-month-old girl child.
There was no improvement in healthcare in the KBK (Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) region. The National Human Rights Commission which probed into alleged starvation deaths in the KBK region, has expressed concern over the “generally poor state of healthcare that still prevails in the KBK region” in its 19-page report. The panel members found that prolonged malnutrition and hunger compounded by disease were the other contributory factors. The Commission found that there were more than 31.63 per cent vacancies of medical staff in Navrangpur, 29.21 per cent in Malkangiri, 28.57 per cent in Nuapada and 22.6 per cent in Kalahandi.
In November 2006, Gangaram Nag reportedly committed suicide due to crop failure in Katapali village under Belpara block of Bolangir district.
. Orissa, MP & UP top infant mortality chart, The Asian Age, 27 March 2006
. Naxal Conflict in 2006, Asian Centre for Human Rights, 10 January 2007
. HTFAQs - 14 Orissa districts hit by Naxalism, The Hindustan Times, 24 October 2006
. Maoists storm jail in Orissa, free 40 prisoners, The Hindu, 25 March 2006
. Orissa bans CPI (M) and front groups, The Deccan Herald, 10 June 2006
. Orissa, MP & UP top infant mortality chart, The Asian Age, 27 March 2006
. Court News, October-December 2006, Supreme Court of India
. Man serves 7 years in prison, longest by undertrial, The Asian Age, 21 November 2006
. Firing claimed 137 lives in in 25 years, The Statesman, 7 February 2006
. Justice Naidu commission defers sitting, The Statesman, 8 May 2006
. Naidu panel meets tribals, The Statesman, 15 June 2006
. Jajpur SP defends Kalinga Nagar police action, The Statesman, 16 October 2006
. Déjà vu: One Year After the Kalinga Nagar Massacre, AITPN, 2 January 2007
. Bengal cross with firing, The Telegraph, 9 January 2006
. Tribal widow lodges complaint against CRPF, The Pragativadi, 19 July 2006
. Maoists in Orissa kill head of village, The Asian Age, 14 October 2006
. Suspected Maoists gun down trader, The Pioneer, 31 October 2006
. Maoists kill ‘police informer' in Orissa, The Asian Age, 9 December 2006
. Naxalites kidnap engineer, peon, The Telegraph, 11 August 2006
. Maoists attack road contractor, workers, The Pioneer, 20 July 2006
. Maoists set three railway engines on fire, The Pragativadi, 17 October 2006
. No temple entry, despite HC verdict, The Pioneer, 6 December 2006
. No temple entry for Dalits, The Statesman, 12 April 2006
. Dalit girl beaten up in Kendrapara, The Pioneer, 26 October 2006
. Tribal students to suffer as school faces closure, The Statesman, 10 January 2006
. Walk through Kalinga Nagar colonies to know why unrest happened, The Indian Express, 19 January 2006
. Tribal women protest police inaction in rape case, The Pioneer, 20 March 2006
. Orissa tribals allege rights abuse, Complain to OHRC, The Asian Age, 21 October 2006
. 342 tribals reconvert in Orissa, The Statesman, 10 April 2006
. 136 tribals in Orissa reconvert to Hinduism, The Asian Age, 18 January 2006
. Starvation death hits Orissa, The Hindustan Times, 7 June, 2006
. Panel frowns on KBK healthcare, The Telegraph, 12 October 2006
. Farmer ends life in Orissa, The Deccan Herald, 14 November 2006