Tribal leader Haribandhu Kadraka arrested on false charges for opposing Vedanta’s mining project

(New Democracy News)

A strong opponent of Vedanta’s mining of Niyamgiri hills, tribal leader of Rayagada district and Muniguda block president of Lok Sangram Manch (LSM) Com. Haribandhu Kadraka was arrested on 19th October on trumped up charges. This arrest is part of a sinister design to remove and intimidate opponents of mining in Niyamgiri to favour Vedanta. Naveen Patnaik, whose govt. had openly backed this project and has been the main promoter of illegal mining in Odisha as demonstrated by MB Shah Commission report and now bolstered by another supporter of Vedanta, Narendra Modi in power at the Centre, is out to crush the movement against illegal mining.

On 19th October Com. Haribandhu Kadraka was called by inspector-in-charge of local police station that the SP wants to meet him. After reaching the police station in the afternoon he was told that SP is waiting at the nearby Bissum Cuttack police station and pursued him to go there. Haribandhu after reaching Bissum Cuttack did not find the SP there but was forced to board in a bolero by armed police present there and subsequently he was taken to the district police headquarters at Rayagada. There he was leveled false allegations and the SP, SDPO and other police officers present there abused him in filthy language. The very next day he was paraded in front of the media as a dreaded Maoist by covering his face with a black cloth and showing some wires, Maoist banners and live cartridges along with him. The SP told to the press that a special police party caught him while planting a land mine in the jungle. Eleven cases related to Maoist violence under various sections including the infamous UAPA were slapped on him. Now he is in Bissum Cuttack prison.

Haribandhu, is a well-known political activist of Muniguda area and an active member of CPI(ML)ND. As the block president of Lok Sangram Manch he has been active in different issues of the people for the last 10 years. He has spearheaded the land movement in Muniguda area in which thousands of landless people particularly the tribals and dalits of many villages on the foothills of Niyamagiri have captured hundreds of acres of agricultural land from the illegal possession of landlords. The police even arrested him twice in the past by falsely implicating him in cases related to land movement. After the entry of Vedanta in Niyamagiri area our party decided to stand with the Dangaria tribals in their resistance against the proposed mining plan of Vedanta. Since then, as the leader of Lok Sangram Manch, and CPI(ML) Haribandhu and other comrades of Muniguda area have been in the forefront of the movement under the banner of Niyamagiri Surakshya Samiti. He himself belongs to Dangaria tribe and his village Rajulguda has been the entry point and centre of Niyamagiri movement. From mobilizing people for anti Vedanta agitation to making the Supreme Court ordered Grama Sabhas in Niayamagiri successful his role was very much positive. He has fearlessly stood against the onslaught of landlords and dared to go against the Vedanta facing many cases. As an activist he has always opposed the atrocities of police in the name of Maoists and became the victim of it.

Hearing his illegal arrest hundreds of people of his village and nearby villages demonstrated in front of the Muniguda police station on the same day and on 27th October a joint rally of LSM and NSS was organized in Muniguda where more than three thousand people including a large number of Danagaria tribals participated in the rally protesting against the illegal arrest of Com. Haribandhu and demanding his immediate release. Under the Chairmanship of Comrade Subash Kulusika, a public meeting was held in front of the police station where LSM state president Comrade Kushanath Pradhan, NSS leaders Comrade Lada Sikkaka, Comrade Bari Pidikaka, Comrade Dadi Pusika and Samajawadi Jana Parishad secretary Linagaraj Azad addressed and slamed the Naveen Pattanaik Govt for his anti people and repressive measures. The police and the govt. think that by arresting Haribandhu they will suppress the voice of the people against mining and police repression but after the successful rally of Muniguda it proved to be day dreaming.

CPI(ML)-New Democracy appeals to people and all democratic forces to oppose this cruel and blatant suppression of people’s movements by imprisoning activists under false and trumped up charges.

Foil the conspiracies of Naveen Govt. in favour of mining barons!

October 30, 2014