BHUBANESWAR: A fact-finding team, which visited Niyamgiri hills to investigate the alleged surrender of two members of Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti, has alleged that the police action was just to repress the movement by branding the activists as Maoists.
The surrenders, the team said, were forced as the Surakshya Samiti members were allegedly subjected to excesses by Rayagada police. "The testimonies of Kuni Sikaka, Dasaru Kadraka and others make it very clear that police are using illegal detention, threats of jail and even torture to coerce Niyamgiri activists into surrendering,’’ stated the six-member team, which visited the hills and met the activists for three days.
The fact-finding squad comprised Kavita Krishnan, Chitta Ranjan Behera, Priya Pillai, Santi Snigdha Mohanty, Birender and Chhabilal Hiyal.
Talking to mediapersons, the team members said Niyamgiri movement being one of the best-known and successful people’s resistance against corporate land grabbing and destruction of environment, the activists are being arrested when they refuse to surrender. These tribals are being framed and thrown behind bars, they added.
The surrender of Kuni, who police said was a hardcore Maoist member carrying Rs 1 lakh reward on her head, was fake, the team claimed.
Kuni was picked up on May 1 and taken to Rayagada where she was allegedly asked to surrender as a Maoist cadre failing which she would be framed so that she spends 12 to 15 years in jail. Her father-in-law and husband, who came to meet her, were also given similar threats following which Kuni and her husband signed surrender statements, the team members said.
Kuni has not accepted Rs 2 lakh which police offered her as surrender package. Her husband too corroborated the view, the team said and added that the case of Dasaru was also similar.