Sunday, April 13, 2008

Many Nandigrams (and six Maoist women)

A few days back, a media friend of mine and five others visited the POSCO site in Orissa on the eve of a mass rally against the project. The next day, a local Oriya newspaper reported that six Maoist women -- some of them pretending to be media people -- came the previous night and camped at the rally site to give arms training to the tribals.

News about the rally came in the "Non-Events" section in local Times of India. In Delhi edition, Times carried a oneliner (Massive rally at proposed Posco site: Anti-Posco protesters held a massive rally at the proposed Posco site near Paradeep even as police detained around 300 of their supporters on Tuesday. The district administration had imposed prohibitory orders in Balitutha where an estimated 3,000 villagers gathered on Utkal Divas and pledged not to give away their land for the proposed Posco project. The police blocked entry of protestors at several places. ToI Delhi, April 2) and Indian Express chose to look away.

Native resistances to big projects and the displacements attached to such projects do not carry any news value any more (unless it happens in a state where a communist party rules). In the rush to globalize and to get things done at low cost (which most often means without paying for the resources), such struggles have become commonplace. And there are many Nandigram-like situations in many states in India. The POSCO project is just one of them.

(It is not new to Orissa either -- the people's resistance to a big mining project in Kashipur is over 15 years old and a brutal police crackdown on tribals there happened only about three years back.)

Some related links:

  • Democracy at gunpoint: a report, a case study, a map and other links

  • Armed procession against Posco: Indian Express, December 3, 2007

  • Posco officials taken hostage by villagers: Indian Express, May 12, 2007

  • Nandigram-like Situation in Orissa? The South Asian, December 2, 2007

  • [Post Script: One local guy told my friend, "You people are lucky that there are no metallic resources in your state. At least you will have some amount of democracy". Going by the list of mine-rich states, one sees he does have a point. But now, it is not only about the mines any more.]

    1 comment:

    sudeep said...

    A modified version of this post appeared as an article in The Hoot: Land struggles: does the media care?