The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Hands of death haunt tribals

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 4: Angry and grieving tribals of the Kalinga Nagar industrial complex were provoked some more today when they were handed five bodies with the hands chopped off from the wrists.

Twelve tribals were killed at the complex in Jajpur district after police fired on a large gathering demanding that civil contractors stop work on a land the Tatas had acquired for a steel plant.

Since Monday’s incident, the tribals have been squatting on a key road in protest. After receiving the bodies, they refused to cremate them, demanding a probe.

The police had taken six bodies for post-mortem after the firing. During post-mortem, doctors at Jajpur hospital were said to have cut the palms to take fingerprints as the faces had been completely disfigured by bullets.

Jajpur SP Vinaytosh Mishra described it as “standard procedure”. “The hands had become stiff and were thus unsuitable for taking fingerprints. The doctors chopped the wrist and put them in a saline solution to bring them to a proper shape for taking the fingerprints. In the case of unidentified bodies, doctors do this,” Mishra said.

Nayan Mohanty, a leading forensic medicine specialist and superintendent of SCB Medical College in Cuttack, said the fingers are “chopped off and not the entire palm” if the thumb impression cannot be taken in the normal course.

“It’s inhuman. After butchering us, they have now denied us basic dignity,” said Chakradhara Haiburu, president of the organisation of displaced tribals in Kalinga Nagar. Haiburu alleged that the tribals were alive when the police captured them.

The tribals, who had first refused to cremate the bodies,were brought around by their leaders.

By evening, flames were rising from 12 pyres in a field near Ambagadia village as thousands of tribals stood with tears in their eyes.

After the cremation, the tribals returned to squat on the road, braving the chilly night. They are demanding that the government pay them Rs 20 lakh for each death and Rs 10 lakh for each injured. They are also demanding that they be not displaced from their land.

“The fight just started,” said one of their leaders.

Email This Page