Campaign Against State Repression strongly condemns the slapping of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on activists of the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS) as an attempt to suppress the people's movement against corporate exploitation. On August 6, 2023, the Odisha police filed an FIR against nine individuals associated with NSS, invoking charges under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code. These charges came after the forced abduction of two NSS activists, Krushna Sikaka and Bari Sikaka, by plainclothes police officers on August 5 from Lanjigarh haat in the Kalahandi district. The NSS activists, who were meeting villagers to discuss upcoming celebrations of World Adivasi Day, were later reported missing, with the police initially denying their abduction.
Responding to the abduction, NSS organized a protest in front of the Kalyansinghpur police station to demand information about the whereabouts of the abducted activists. During the dispersal of this protest, the police attempted to abduct another NSS activist, Drenju Krisika, from the crowd. The police subsequently filed the FIR against nine activists, including prominent names like Lada Sikaka, Drenju Krisika, Lingaraj Azad, British Kumar from the Khandualmali Surakhya Samiti, and poet Lenin Kumar.
These abductions and the misuse of anti-terror laws against Adivasi activists just days before World Adivasi Day on August 9 are part of a broader pattern of state repression aimed at suppressing the democratic struggle against the corporate-driven destruction of the Niyamgiri mountains. The Dongria Kondh tribe and other communities in Odisha have been resisting various mining projects that threaten their traditional lands and the environment. The Indian state had signed an agreement with Vedanta Limited in 2003 to establish a mining project in the Niyamgiri mountains, which would lead to displacement of local residents and severe environmental damage.
The people's resolute struggle against this corporate exploitation resulted in a Supreme Court judgment that prevented Vedanta Limited from continuing its mining operations in Niyamgiri due to flouting of legal provisions. However, the struggle has continued, and the state has intensified its repressive tactics, including abductions, charges under anti-terror laws, changes in land ownership regulations, and police harassment.
This incident is not an isolated one but part of a broader state crackdown. In Kashipur, Rayagada, protests occurred against bauxite mining projects by Vedanta and Adani Groups. Activists involved in these demonstrations were also subjected to similar abduction and police violence. The state's actions reveal its pursuit of an imperialist model of development that suppresses land struggles in bauxite-rich areas.
Campaign Against State Repression demands the withdrawal of the fabricated UAPA charges against NSS activists and calls on all democratic and progressive forces to support the movement against corporate exploitation.
- Campaign Against State Repression includes organizations such as AIRSO, AISA, AISF, APCR, BASF, BSM, Bhim Army, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, bsCEM, CEM, CRPP, CTF, Disha, DISSC, DSU, DTF, Fraternity, IAPL, Karnataka Janashakti, LAA, Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, Morcha Patrika, NAPM, NBS, Nowruz, NTUI, People’s Watch, Rihai Manch, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Samajwadi Lok Manch, Bahujan Samajwadi Manch, SFI, United Against Hate, WSS, and Y4S.