More Peaceful Protesters in World's Largest Democracy's Jails

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In recent weeks, human rights and environmental activists have celebrated a court ruling rejecting a massive expansion of the Vedanta Mining Company’s hazardous alumina refinery and toxic red mud pond located in India’s eastern state of Orissa.

However, peaceful protesters continue to face police violence at the site, and 47 villagers have been jailed on false charges, signaling that the saga of Vedanta’s Lanjigarh refinery is not yet over.

Not far away, along Orissa’s coast, two more non-violent activists have been jailed on false charges for their opposition to the POSCO steel company’s $12b plant. Narayan Reddy and Abhay Sahoo have led protests against the forcible eviction of farmers from common lands. Take action now and demand they be freed.

India is the world’s biggest democracy, but the jailing of peaceful activists on false charges to silence dissent and to make life easier for multi-billion dollar corporations is shameful and undemocratic. Use you voice to support democracy and human rights in India.

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14 thoughts on “More Peaceful Protesters in World's Largest Democracy's Jails

  1. The protests were never peaceful and protesters were going against the voice of the majority and against the interest of the state. Action needed to be taken. Similar actions need to be taken for the interest of democracy and for the interest of the state. The reports are biased and against democracy.

  2. At least one protest did become violent, but the vast majority of them have been peaceful, and the individuals arrested have not been connected to the violence. Instead, those arrested have been leaders targeted in an effort to silence the much more significant and long term non-violent opposition to and criticism of these projects.

    In both situations, locals were not consulted prior to these massive projects that will seriously affect their lives in negative ways – pollution of drinking water, increased health problems, loss of land and livelihood, decreased quality of life, increased violence against women, etc. Instead of actually dealing with these problems, these companies and the Orissa government are instead locking up people who point them out and ask that those affected be treated justly.

    Development and democracy should never be at the expense of human rights. Period. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and have their life and well-being respected, even if they are poor or indigenous or otherwise marginalized.

  3. The protests were never peaceful and protesters were going against the voice of the majority and against the interest of the state. Action needed to be taken. Similar actions need to be taken for the interest of democracy and for the interest of the state. The reports are biased and against democracy.

  4. At least one protest did become violent, but the vast majority of them have been peaceful, and the individuals arrested have not been connected to the violence. Instead, those arrested have been leaders targeted in an effort to silence the much more significant and long term non-violent opposition to and criticism of these projects.

    In both situations, locals were not consulted prior to these massive projects that will seriously affect their lives in negative ways – pollution of drinking water, increased health problems, loss of land and livelihood, decreased quality of life, increased violence against women, etc. Instead of actually dealing with these problems, these companies and the Orissa government are instead locking up people who point them out and ask that those affected be treated justly.

    Development and democracy should never be at the expense of human rights. Period. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and have their life and well-being respected, even if they are poor or indigenous or otherwise marginalized.

  5. @Brajanarayan Sir, with all due respect, democracy might represent the voice of the majority but it is supposed to protect the rights of the minority too. As far as "interest of the state" is concerned, it shouldn't be at the cost of livelihood of people who don't fit in the clique of majorities. In the name of development, a "minority" of millions of people are displaced not just depriving them of the not so important things like their land, homes and memories (coz the poor don't have the right to nostalgia) but most importantly their means of livelihood, which you might not realize but does affect the urban population or what you call "the majority". And in the long run as opposed to what you might think, undermines the development of the nation. Do you fail to realize that our growing slum population, that the urban rich oh so despises, is the product of these millions displaced?
    If the progress of our nation is dependent on feeding the greed of these multinational mining corporations, multibillion dollar Steel Companies and developers by replacing the land and livelihood of our farmers, villagers and indigenous population with dams and quarries; then let’s first drop the title of “World’s Largest Democracy”. Coz frankly what we are doing is unconstitutional and utterly undemocratic! The Naxals or Maoists were deemed terrorist for their violent approaches of fighting against some these very vulturous corporations. Isn't the government conceiving new set of India's "internal security threat", by this cessation of peaceful protests and denying them the right to freedom of assembly and speech? Do you fail to realize that it is when we fail to resolve our issues through non- violently methods that people resort to violence?
    I haven’t even gotten to the environmental impacts of such tools of development. So, before you rush to judgment as to who is going against democracy and against the interest of the state, be mindful that dissent is vital for a healthy democracy!

  6. @Jilljee..I cann't agree with you Sir. I am a localite from Odisha and I strongly feel that we need industrialisation as well as more investment in agriculture to develop the state. About taking care of the minority, historically,traditionally and culturally, we are democratic and give importance of the voice of minority but to an extent when social welfare is not affected.In the name of minority's interest,we cann't stop development. Environtal protection,rehabilitation are all part and parcel of any industrialisation and are taken of as per existing policies, which is one of the best in India.I know it very well that there are political and industrial vested interest groups, who try to manipulate issues and go on supporting violence of some sections of the society, rather encourage them in the name and their primary aim is something detrimental to the interest of the society. I and millions like me cann't accept the views, stated by you and will do our best to develop the state of Odisha through peaceful industrialisation. Dissidents will lose their numbers and will join us sooner or later.

  7. @James Mutti Development,democracy and human rights will go side by side and any group promoting one over the other is doing injustice to the very basis of human conscience and wisdom. Writing on a particular issue with ground zero informations or having wrong informations from biased sources only distorts the facts and brings distorted pictures of human agonies. People of Odisha are extremely poor and not getting square meals a day, depending on charity and Government aids. They need urgently development in agriculture and industry.The Government is doing its best with all its limitations.Everybody's rights and needs are being taken care of as per state's capabilities. We need no foreign or outside advices on protection of rights of our people. We love to see that they are comfortable and live their lives happily.Never try to make me believe that there are people outside Odisha more dear to Odias than the people of Odisha. Some of us have been misguided and they will return to the mainstream one day after realising their mistakes.

  8. @Brajanarayan Sir, with all due respect, democracy might represent the voice of the majority but it is supposed to protect the rights of the minority too. As far as “interest of the state” is concerned, it shouldn’t be at the cost of livelihood of people who don’t fit in the clique of majorities. In the name of development, a “minority” of millions of people are displaced not just depriving them of the not so important things like their land, homes and memories (coz the poor don’t have the right to nostalgia) but most importantly their means of livelihood, which you might not realize but does affect the urban population or what you call “the majority”. And in the long run as opposed to what you might think, undermines the development of the nation. Do you fail to realize that our growing slum population, that the urban rich oh so despises, is the product of these millions displaced?
    If the progress of our nation is dependent on feeding the greed of these multinational mining corporations, multibillion dollar Steel Companies and developers by replacing the land and livelihood of our farmers, villagers and indigenous population with dams and quarries; then let’s first drop the title of “World’s Largest Democracy”. Coz frankly what we are doing is unconstitutional and utterly undemocratic! The Naxals or Maoists were deemed terrorist for their violent approaches of fighting against some these very vulturous corporations. Isn’t the government conceiving new set of India’s “internal security threat”, by this cessation of peaceful protests and denying them the right to freedom of assembly and speech? Do you fail to realize that it is when we fail to resolve our issues through non- violently methods that people resort to violence?
    I haven’t even gotten to the environmental impacts of such tools of development. So, before you rush to judgment as to who is going against democracy and against the interest of the state, be mindful that dissent is vital for a healthy democracy!

  9. @Jilljee..I cann’t agree with you Sir. I am a localite from Odisha and I strongly feel that we need industrialisation as well as more investment in agriculture to develop the state. About taking care of the minority, historically,traditionally and culturally, we are democratic and give importance of the voice of minority but to an extent when social welfare is not affected.In the name of minority’s interest,we cann’t stop development. Environtal protection,rehabilitation are all part and parcel of any industrialisation and are taken of as per existing policies, which is one of the best in India.I know it very well that there are political and industrial vested interest groups, who try to manipulate issues and go on supporting violence of some sections of the society, rather encourage them in the name and their primary aim is something detrimental to the interest of the society. I and millions like me cann’t accept the views, stated by you and will do our best to develop the state of Odisha through peaceful industrialisation. Dissidents will lose their numbers and will join us sooner or later.

  10. @James Mutti Development,democracy and human rights will go side by side and any group promoting one over the other is doing injustice to the very basis of human conscience and wisdom. Writing on a particular issue with ground zero informations or having wrong informations from biased sources only distorts the facts and brings distorted pictures of human agonies. People of Odisha are extremely poor and not getting square meals a day, depending on charity and Government aids. They need urgently development in agriculture and industry.The Government is doing its best with all its limitations.Everybody’s rights and needs are being taken care of as per state’s capabilities. We need no foreign or outside advices on protection of rights of our people. We love to see that they are comfortable and live their lives happily.Never try to make me believe that there are people outside Odisha more dear to Odias than the people of Odisha. Some of us have been misguided and they will return to the mainstream one day after realising their mistakes.

  11. @Brijnarayan – "About taking care of the minority, historically,traditionally and culturally, we are democratic and give importance of the voice of minority"… In what context can you say that with confidence? Our history, tradition and culture is the proof that minorities which include the indigenous people, women, dalits, and other oppressed groups, don't have a Voice. Period!

    "I and millions like me cann’t accept the views, stated by you and will do our best to develop the state of Odisha".. Well, I and millions of people including those who get forcefully evicted from their lands and get their homes demolished are not anti development but think that "social welfare" stands for improving standard of living, providing basic healthcare and education!

  12. @Brijnarayan – “About taking care of the minority, historically,traditionally and culturally, we are democratic and give importance of the voice of minority”… In what context can you say that with confidence? Our history, tradition and culture is the proof that minorities which include the indigenous people, women, dalits, and other oppressed groups, don’t have a Voice. Period!

    “I and millions like me cann’t accept the views, stated by you and will do our best to develop the state of Odisha”.. Well, I and millions of people including those who get forcefully evicted from their lands and get their homes demolished are not anti development but think that “social welfare” stands for improving standard of living, providing basic healthcare and education!

  13. @Brajanarayan,
    1. We agree that Orissa needs development.
    2. It can be done without forcibly evicting people from their land or arresting and intimidating critics and protesters.
    3. Opposition to these projects is not a "mistake". It exists because these projects threaten people's land, lives and livelihood. Put yourself in their shoes.

  14. @Brajanarayan,
    1. We agree that Orissa needs development.
    2. It can be done without forcibly evicting people from their land or arresting and intimidating critics and protesters.
    3. Opposition to these projects is not a “mistake”. It exists because these projects threaten people’s land, lives and livelihood. Put yourself in their shoes.