ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Unearthing Conflict

Police Violence on Dispossessed Dalits in Kashipur

What remains behind the repetition of brazen violence is the continuous and calibrated deployment of different techniques of power that involve the recycling of violence in various forms and continuous yet ad hoc negotiations by the state and the mining company with the affected communities that seek to contain the communities and limit the forms of resistance available to them on a day-to-day basis.

Kashipur has been on the ignition point since May 2019 as the villagers dispossessed by Utkal Alumina International Limited (UAIL) demand jobs and rehabilitation through sustained village-level protests. In two separate incidents of police action, on 1 November 2019 and 3 January 2020, 14 Dalit men of Dwimundi village and 42 Dalit women, including three pregnant women and seven children from Paika Kupakhal village, were arrested from the site of dharna (sit-in) on charges of dacoity and attempt to murder under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Section 144, prohibiting assembly of more than four persons at one place, was subsequently imposed that lasted till March 2020. Paramilitary platoons have stayed on in the area, and there has been an environment of terror since. Following the spread of the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, this area was also put under lockdown. Yet, till June 2020, those who were arrested from Dwimundi and currently out on bail were compelled to come to the police station for hajiri (attendance). On a few occasions, on their way for hajiri, these men were beaten up by the local-level police surveilling the area for violating curfew orders. Inside the police station, they were humiliated with casteist slurs and, sometimes, slapped by the policemen for opposing UAIL.

Such incidents have become the new normal since UAIL entered advanced construction stages in 2011–12. On several occasions, engagements between the villagers and the company over matters of livelihoods have come to a head, leading to arrest or such threats. What are the implications of the presence and eruption of such ignition points? These recurring conflicts point to a much deeper malaise caused due to the disruption of precarious livelihoods of the Adivasi–Dalit communities and ongoing irreversible damage to an already fragile ecosystem. As such, the instrumental use of state violence against resisting mining communities is not uncommon.

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Updated On : 21st Sep, 2020
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