An 18 members team, consisting of 7 organisations belonging to the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisation (CDRO) visited Nagar Nar and met leaders of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) unions working in National Mineral Development Council’s (NMDC) Nagar Nar Steel Plant and listened about their long drawn struggle against privatisation of this plant.
One of the major reasons for conflicts in Bastar region is land acquisition of adivasi Kisans going as far back as land acquisition for Bailadila in 1950s. Nagar Nar project was originally mooted by Mukand Steel Ltd. in 1992. In view of stiff opposition from the public, it was stalled. In 2000, after the state of Chhattisgarh was formed, NMDC took over the project. The team found that the NMDC has gone for 3 phases of land acquisition from the people belonging to nearby 13 Panchayats, assuring adequate compensation and job for the families of those whose lands were acquired. But during each stage of land acquisition in 2001 & 2010, NMDC has not fulfilled the assurances in full. And hence in 2017, the local people are against parting with their lands for the plant, as the NMDC is planning for privatisation of the plant. Of the land losers in 2001, out of 303 people, 100 were given jobs in 2002 and remaining 200 could get the job only in 2010, after long drawn struggles of the land losers. For those who gave their lands in 2010 for higher compensation, out of 1052 people, only 838 were registered for jobs, but none of them have been given job till now. During the recruitment in 2001 & 2010, women were left out from job registration. Of the land losers, the majority of the affected persons were primarily belonging to adivasi community & some were hailing from dalit community. While in 2001, the compensation offered was around Rs.8,000 to Rs.16,000 per acre, during 2010 land acquisition the compensation was enhanced to Rs. 10 to 13 lakhs per acre. While the land acquisition during 2010 was smoother due to higher compensation, today in 2017 even after enhancement of compensation to 4 times higher per acre to Rs.40 lakhs per acre, the people are not willing to part with their lands as the Government is planning simultaneous privatisation of Nagar Nar steel plant. The Government has acquired 1100 acres of land in 2001, and 1100 acres in 2010 again. Now, the NMDC proposed to acquire 2300 acres more. While during earlier phases of land acquisition, there was not much resistance from the people, but now, as the government has announced privatisation of this plant, the people are strongly opposing proposed land acquisition. The local communities belonging to the affected 13 Panchayats organised unions of NMDC workers, local political parties - except BJP, and they have come together against proposed move of government for privatisation of Nagar Nar Steel Plant of NMDC. They have taken up struggles in the form of long Padyatra, black badge wearing, dharna, demonstrations etc. and plan to intensify their protest further. Moreover, the CDRO is concerned, that NMDC’s public sector unit is conniving with 21 private companies to whom construction work has been contracted out, in violating the labours laws, such as Contract labour Act, Minimum Wage Act, ESI & EPF Acts etc., while it is its legal duty as the primary employer to ensure that labour laws are fully complied with. The protest against privatisation of the NMDC Nagar Nar Plant of the unions, local communities, local political parties, jointly, is legitimate and the resistance is not only for saving their lands, but also for ensuring quality of life and livelihood for the people inhabiting the area.
- Stop acquisition of more land for the plant as the people are strictly opposed to it.
- Stop privatisation of this steel plant.
- Fully implement the assurances given to the people while taking away their lands i.e. employment in the plant, proper compensation, land for Rehabilitation and other financial packages.
- Ensure compliance of labour laws by the NMDC as well as its contractors
- Implement the legal provisions regarding taking over of tribal lands.
- Ensure that no socio-environmental damage is suffered by the people of the area due to operations of this plant.
Sexual Assault on Minor Girls In Palnar by CRPF
The CDRO team visited Balika Avasiya Vidyalaya in Palnar to talk to the Hostel authorities. We were prevented from meeting anyone or from entering the hostel citing rules. If the authorities would have followed these rules on 31st July and prevented more than 100 CRPF Jawans from entering the hostel the chilling incident in which minor girls were sexually assaulted, could have been avoided.
The ostensible reason for the program was ‘Raksha Bandhan’, which turned into a horrific tale of sexual molestation of minor girls. However, there are many questions relating to this incident which remain unanswered.
- Who authorised the programme by a private TV channel in a girls hostel, where senior police, CRPF and other officials and some politicians were present. While the Collector is on record disclaiming any knowledge of this.
- The incident took place while the illegal programme was held on 31st July, inside the hostel premises and senior police and other officials were present there, so how was it that they remained unaware of the goings on there?
- The SP and collector were informed about it on the very next day i.e. August 01, 2017, but the FIR was registered 6 days later on the August 07, 2017. Why such delay?
- Under the principle of command responsibility, Hostel warden, SP, Collector, CRPF officers and others are also liable and responsible for this incident as they permitted and participated in an illegal programme. It amounted to criminal trespass. Minor girls in the garb of Raksha Bandhan were made to join dancing with CRPF men in uniforms and having arms. The SP and Collector are also responsible under Nirbhya Act for delay in filing the FIR.
- Besides, the Team is not convinced that 16 girls were molested by just 2 CRPF men. Illegal act, delay in filing FIR, lends weight to our fear that there is an attempt to suppress the facts. Although FIR has been finally registered, we believe that the police has failed to incorporate certain provisions of law such as IPC Section 34 (Common intention), 452 (Criminal trespass) etc.
CDRO demands that:
1. Keeping in view the presence of SP, and higher officers of the CRPF at the time of occurrence and shirking by them of their legal responsibility of moving under the relevant law, in view of the investigation, case be entrusted to CBI
2. The investigation should also include the dereliction of their duty as stipulated under POCSO Act and Prevention of Atrocity Act, especially provisions of 5.15A of Prevention of Atrocity Act, and suitable offences should be added and they should also be proceeded against.
3. As the incident is extremely horrific, the punishment to all guilty persons should be ensured.
Prevention of CDRO Team from Visiting Burkapal
CDRO was interested in investigating and corroborating the sporadic reports of atrocities committed as villages in and around Burkapal. The incidents in past March and April, were tragic incidents. However, in its aftermath the CRPF and police have been making arrests of men folks of the village in and around Burkapal and it is reported that around 80 villages have been taken into custody. The families, we heard were not informed of the arrests and it was only when the women from Burkapal got in touch with Soni Sori that after 7 to 10 days, the police authorities announced arrest of 40 persons in an alleged operation against the Maoists. There is no information about 40 other villagers taken into custody, nor were we able to verify this because the CDRO team was prevented from travelling to Burkapal. We spent 6 hours in a futile attempt to meet the senior police officers or the Collector. The police officers who met expressed their helplessness in giving the “permission” and kept on asking to wait for their seniors to respond. We kept reminding that as citizens of this country we need no permission to travel anywhere in the country, but given that no senior officer was reachable on phone and on their insistence that everyone was busy in preparation of Independence Day function, and due to IED planted on roads movement was restricted. We read today, the SP Sukma’s statement to ‘the Hindu’ that the CDRO team has “requested accommodation” . This is ridiculous. However, we welcome the statement that CDRO team can tour Sukma, anytime after 15th of August.
CDRO feels that given these conditions prevailing in Bastar, it is very important for protecting constitutional freedoms and health of democracy, that movement of civil and democratic rights activists should not be impaired.
C. Chandrasekhar (CLC, Andhra Pradesh), Asish Gupta (PUDR, Delhi), Pritpal Singh (AFDR, Punjab), Phulendro Konsam (COHR, Manipur) and Tapas Chakraborty (APDR, West Bengal) (Coordinators of CDRO).
Constituent Organisations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR, Punjab), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal); Asansol Civil Rights Association, West Bengal; Bandi Mukti Committee (West Bengal); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Andhra Pradesh); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Telangana); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR, Maharashtra); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR,Tamil Nadu); Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur); Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam); Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR); Peoples’ Committee for Human Rights (PCHR, Jammu and Kashmir); Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka); Jharkhand Council for Democratic Rights (JCDR, Jharkhand); Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR, Delhi); Peoples Union for Civil Rights (PUCR, Haryana), Campaign for Peace & Democracy in Manipur (CPDM), Delhi; Janhastakshep (Delhi).