Business Standard

Probe UP police firing on tribals, say green activists

IANS  |  New Delhi 

Green activists on Friday demanded an independent inquiry into the incident of firing and cane-charging by police against tribals in Uttar Pradesh.

Uttar Pradesh Police opened fire on April 14 and 18 at the members of Kanhar Bachao Andolan and Kanhar Bandh Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti, who were protesting land acquisition by the state government for the construction of the controversial Kanhar dam, a fact-finding team (FFT) said.

"The police opened fire on the peaceful protesters on April 14 and 18 in Kanhar Valley, Amwar village, Dudhi block, Sonbhadra district... This was followed by a lathi-charge and a rampage in Sundari and Bhisur villages which are also in the same valley. Many people were injured and are currently lying at the Dudhi hospital," the report said.

The six-member independent fact-finding team formed by Delhi Solidarity Group that visited the injured people sought an independent inquiry into the reported police firing.

According to the official account, 23 tribal and 16 policemen were injured during the firing on both days.

The team, however, said that the official account does not tally with the one of the villagers and local journalists.

According to the contrarian claim, the names of two women protesters from Sundari village, who have been missing since April 18, do not appear in the list of injured people as prepared by the district magistrate.

"There is discrepancy in the official figures. The villagers told us that those missing women died during the open firing and were instantly buried in the ground to hide the matter," said freelance journalist Abhishek Srivastav, who was member of the FFT.

Team member Priya Pillai of Greenpeace India said that no protocol was followed by the police to forewarn the "peaceful protesters" before the two rounds of fire.

"The police officers responsible must be sacked until the independent inquiry concludes," she demanded.

The team also asked for the state administration to follow the National Green Tribunal's order suspending the construction of the dam.

Following a petition in the case last year, the green court on December 24 suspended the construction of the dam in Uttar Pradesh's Maoist-affected Sonbhadra district as impermissible for lack of a valid environment clearance (EC).

It was contended that the previous environment and forest clearance to the Kanhar dam project, first envisaged in 1976, was not valid after 38 years.

Despite the green court's order, the state government went ahead with the construction. The petitioners approached the court in January with a contempt application against the state government.

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First Published: Fri, April 24 2015. 22:46 IST