The state worries–”Orissa: Imperialist tourism for ‘tribal entertainment’ in War Zones of Repression and Resistance” (Part One)
Orissa puts curbs on tribal tourism
Sandeep Mishra, TNN Feb 26, 2012
BHUBANESWAR: With increasing concern about voyeuristic foreigners embarking on tribal safaris, the Orissa government on Saturday imposed strict rules for trips to areas inhabited by vulnerable tribal groups, such as Bondas and Dongaria Kondhs and even book those found contravening official guidelines. Tourists permitted into the area would not be allowed to stay night, stand close to tribals or enter their homes.
The government had, following a row over tourists’ visits to interior tribal zones in December, ordered a probe by IAS Officer Usha Padhee.
The new guidelines say no foreign tourist/researcher can visit areas inhabited by these groups without the collector’s permission, which would be marked to the local police station. The cops have to ensure the conditions in the permission letter are strictly followed. “In case of any violation criminal cases should be lodged against the tourist/sponsor/tour operator under appropriate sections of law,” the chief minister’s office said in a media release. No night stay, videos or still pictures would be allowed.
Orissa has the second highest tribal population in the country and is home to 62 tribal communities, including 13 categorized as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG), numbering around 90,000. The PVTGs, namely, Bonda, Didayi, Lanjia Saura, Juang, Kutia Kondh, Chuktia Bhunjia, Saura, Paudi Bhuyan, Lodha, Dongria Kondh, Hill Khadia, Mankirdia and Bihor, spread over 12 districts, fascinate many because of their interesting rituals and customs. A similar incident had occurred in the Andamans.
The government barred ‘physical proximity’ of tourists to tribals and entry to their homes. It has asked collectors not to permit amusement/entertainment of tourists by tribals. Tour operators intending to take tourists to areas where PVTGs reside shall have to register with the department of tourism and culture with certain additional conditions; they should not depict photographs, video clips, write-ups on PVTGs in their websites/brochures in an ‘inappropriate manner’ for tourism promotion; they should submit a monthly return of foreign tourists visiting areas inhabited or frequented by PVTGs, official sources said.
Incidentally, the state government had in recent years relaxed restrictions, imposed earlier in 1995 following perceptible ‘misrepresentation’ of India by foreign tourists, to attract more overseas visitors. But it decided to reimpose those following the controversy over certain groups resorting to internet advertising showcasing scantily attired Bonda tribals and offering entertainment for tourists.
The government move has not gone down well with people in the tourism sector as they feel ‘responsible tourism’ need to be encouraged instead of imposing restrictions. “At least one-third of the foreigners visiting Orissa go to tribal areas to see PVTGs, especially Bonda in Malkangiri and Dongaria Kondh in Rayagada who still show up in traditional costumes,” a tour official said. “Due to threat from extremists, tourists seldom go to PVTG villages and prefer to visit haats where such tribal people come. The government should focus on building capacities of such communities so that they benefit from tourism while preserving their traditions.”
Maoists Act–”Orissa: Imperialist tourism for ‘tribal entertainment’ in War Zones of Repression and Resistance” (Part Two)
Maoists abduct two Italian tourists for taking ‘objectionable’ tribal photos
Sandeep Mishra, TNN Mar 18, 2012
BHUBANESWAR: Efforts to ensure safe release of two Italian tourists abducted by Maoists in Odisha’s Kandhamal district did not yield result till Sunday evening, even as external affairs minister S M Krishna spoke to chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Italy’s consul general in Kolkata Joel Melchiori met state government officers here.
Maoists have claimed responsibility for kidnapping Bosusco Paolo and Claudio Colangelo from a forest on the Kandhamal-Ganjam border on March 14 and demanded the state government to fulfill their demands by Sunday evening. The matter came to the fore on Saturday night following the extremists letting off Sontosh Moharana, a cook, and Kartik Parida, a helper, who had accompanied the Italian duo.
“Around 30 Maoists took us hostage on March 14 morning when we were preparing food near a stream in Gazalbadi forests. They took us blindfolded and made us walk for about five kilometres,” Moharana told journalists in Puri. “Maoists did not cause any harm to us and treated us well,” he added.
Kandhamal SP Jayanarayan Pankaj told TOI: “We have information the foreigners are safe. We hope Maoists would release them soon.”
This is the first time Maoists have targeted foreigners in Odisha, sparking hectic deliberations at the Central and state government levels. Naveen condemned the kidnapping and appealed to the abductors to free the foreigners on humanitarian ground. “Odisha government is open to any kind of negotiation with the kidnappers under the law,” he said. “I reiterate my appeal to the Left-wing extremists not to take any drastic step. I also condemn this heinous crime. No one will condone this kind of act in a civil society,” he added.
Chief Secretary Bijay Patnaik said Maoists abducted the Italian tourists while they were on a trekking tour on the Kandhamal-Ganjam border. The tourists had gone from Puri on a vehicle and entered the forests on the Kandhamal-Ganjam border ignoring warnings of Maoist problems by Daringbadi police station, he said.
Police sources said the Italians, Moharana and Parida reached Daringbadi on March 12 and ventured into the forest. The vehicle driver, Debendra Mohapatra, dropped the guests and returned.
In audio tapes circulated to TV channels, secretary, Odisha State Organising Committee, Sabyasachi Panda said the foreigners were kidnapped while allegedly taking objectionable photographs of tribals in remote areas despite a state government ban on such activities. Police doubted such claims, saying according to their information Paolo was into trekking, not photography. “Moreover, Kandhamal does not have semi-nude tribals, whose photography can raise objections,” a cop added.
Paolo has been staying in Puri since 19 years and is associated with a private tour agency, Odisha Adventure Trekking. He speaks decent Odia, police sources said. “Paolo has been frequently taking foreigners on trekking trips to Kandhamal and other areas in Odisha. We are doing whatever best can be done to ensure safe and quick release of the tourists,” said DGP Mannmohan Praharaj.
Maoists demanded, among others, immediate halt to anti-extremist operations; withdrawal of cases against over 672 tribals lodged in jails ‘branded as Maoists’; ban on ‘objectionable photography’ of tribals; remunerative prices to Daringbadi turmeric farmers; release of incarcerated Gananath Patra, Subhashree Panda (Sabyasachi’s wife) and Junus Pradhan; implementation of the ‘agreement’ between Maoists and the state government for release of the then Malkangiri district collector R Vineel Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi in February, 2011.
Dandapani Mohanty, who was one of three interlocutors who negotiated Krishna’s release, appealed to Maoists to extend the deadline to allow the state government time to stop anti-Maoist operations and said he was willing to mediate if both sides approach him.
“Orissa: Imperialist tourism for ‘tribal entertainment’ in War Zones of Repression and Resistance” (Part Three) – the voyeur’s guides
Abducted tourist had 20-yr-long love affair with tribal Odisha
BHUBANESWAR: Bosusco Paolo, one of the abducted Italian tourists, had been a pathfinder for scores of tourists, both domestic and foreign, in dense jungles and hilly terrains of tribal districts in Odisha. But little had Paolo imagined that his nearly 20-year-long bond with tribal Odisha will land him in trouble. He and another Italian Claucio Colancero were kidnapped by Maoists in a forest in Kandhamal district.
Fifty three-year-old Paolo from Turin in North Italy had been staying in Puri since the past 23 years on a tourist visa with multiple-entry (into India) facility. Going by multiple-entry visa rules, one can stay for 180 days at a stretch in India. After the time period one has to exit the country for some time and then return for a valid stay.
Paolo speaks Odia, though not fluently, and used to take tourists to forest and hilly areas of the state for expedition, police sources said. “Like other days, he set out on an adventure on March 12. We were stunned to know that he, along with his friend, was kidnapped,” said Saroj Rath, a Puri-based hotelier and acquaintance of Paolo. The second kidnapped Italian Colancero had arrived in Puri on March 9.
Puri tourist officer Bijay Jena said Paolo had opened a small office ‘Orissa Trekking and Adventure’ on Chakratirtha Road a few years ago. Local tour operators alleged Paolo had not obtained any permission from tourism department either to operate the office or take tourists on tribal tours in Maoist-hit areas. Jena admitted Paolo had no permission for organizing treks but said only travel agencies are required to take permission from the department. “Paolo’s was not a travel agency,” Jena said.
Yugabrat Kar, vice-president of Odisha tour association, took a dig at local tourism officials for showing leniency towards people engaged in the business of tourism without requisite permission from the government.
“How could a foreigner do business here by procuring a tourist visa? He needed to have a business visa. What was police doing all these days,” asked another tour operator.
Sources said Paolo has a PAN card in his name as he was earning money in India. “We had no idea he was doing business here. But he has a valid passport and visa. We have been maintaining his multiple arrival and departure reports,” a senior police officer said.
Meanwhile, foreign tourists in Puri are in a state of panic after the abduction. “This is indeed a very disturbing news for us. The government must come to the rescue of the tourists and enhance security in tribal areas where foreigners like us love to visit,” said an American tourist, Johnty Paul.
“Orissa: Imperialist tourism for ‘tribal entertainment’ in War Zones of Repression and Resistance” (Part Four) – tribal demands
Release of ‘innocent’ tribals may be key demand of Maoists
Priya Ranjan Sahu, Hindustan Times
Bhubaneswar, March 18, 2012
Bhubaneswar, March 18, 2012
The main issue that might come up during the impending discussion between the Odisha government and Maoist-chosen mediators following the abduction of two Italian nationals on Saturday will be the release of “innocent” people in jail. Many social activists agree with the Maoists that a large chunk of poor tribals in jail have been arrested on false cases.
When Maoists abducted the then Malkangiri collector, R Vineel Krishna, on February 16, 2011, the main demand of the Maoists was the release of 627 “innocent” prisoners, mostly tribals. The state reached an agreement with three mediators engaged in facilitating Krishna’s release on looking into the issue with “compassion”.
Talking to HT, Odisha home secretary UN Behera said: “After Krishna’s release from captivity, we reviewed all cases against the tribals which also included those relating to excise and forest violations. In about 150 cases, we have started the process of releasing them.”
However, Jan Adhikar Manch convener Dandapani Mohanty, one of the three mediators, said the state government did nothing on that front.
“At least 430 people are still languishing in various jails. Except a very few hardcore Maoists, the rest of them are poor and innocent tribals and democratic rights activists such as Gananath Patra,” Mohanty said.
Patra, a CPI (ML) leader and advisor to the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha, has been in jail for the past two years.
Mohanty said after the Krishna episode, the state government’s intervention helped in the release of just five people — Ganti Prasad, Gokul, Roja Mandangi, Padma (top Maoist leader Ramkrishna’s wife) and Iswari. On the other hand, a total of 200 people were acquitted by various courts due to lack of evidence and the state government had no role in the matter.
Social activist Rabi Das concurred with Mohanty that the state had done little of what had been agreed upon with the mediators for Krishna’s release. “This time the state should send a clear message that it is sincere about tribals and honour demands relating to tribal rights such as land.”
Talking about Justice–”Orissa: Imperialist tourism for ‘tribal entertainment’ in War Zones of Repression and Resistance” (Part Five)
Italians abducted: Maoists name three mediators
CNN-IBN, New Delhi, March 20, 2012: The Maoists responsible for the abduction of two Italian nationals in Odisha on Monday named three mediators for holding talks with the government.
Some sections of the local media said that the three interlocuters were Narayan Sanyal, who is in jail in Jharkhand; Dandapani Mohanti, who helped negotiate between the state government and Maoists to facilitate release of former Malkangiri collector; And Biswapriya Kanunga who is an Odisha based lawyer and human rights activist.
Said Mohanti, “Three of us have been nominated by the kidnappers to hold negotiation with Odisha government for safe release of the two Italian hostages.”
According to the local media, the Maoists have given a deadline till Tuesday for the government to act on their demands.
The Maoists reportedly want the government to stop their operations against the Naxals in the state. They also want some of their leaders to be released from jails.
Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda, while speaking to reporters, said, “The Italian hostages are safe. We have appealed to the Odisha government to clearly declare halt to combing operations.”
He further said that all the “Maoist colleagues” had been asked to not to resort to violence. The Maoists have reportedly announced a unilateral ceasefire and appealed to other naxal groups to do the same.
The development is seen as a positive sign towards resolution of the crisis since Puri-based tour operator Paolo Bosusco and Italian tourist Claudio Colangelo were abducted while trekking in Kandhamal on March 14.
Selection of mediators came shortly after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked the abductors to nominate their representatives without any further delay and announced halt to coercive action by security personnel if Maoists stop violence.
India has, meanwhile, assured Italy that it will seek the hostages’ early release. Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi spoke to his Indian counterpart SM Krishna who assured him that the Odisha government was taking all steps to secure their early release.
With additional information from PTI
What Maoists Say–”Orissa: Imperialist tourism for ‘tribal entertainment’ in War Zones of Repression and Resistance” (Part Six)
CPI (Maoist)–Odisha State Organizing Committee–Statement, 16 March 2012
The government – both at the Centre and the state (Odisha) – has reduced adivasis into mere exhibition items in attempts to lure domestic and foreign tourists. On one hand, the government while inviting multinational capitalists to plunder natural and mineral resources in the adivasi heartland is trying to repress voices of resistance by unleashing Operation Green Hunt on adivasis and the common mass at gun-point, and on the other, it is intensifying its efforts to turn innocent adivasis into exhibition items. Although the government claims to have amended the so-called laws in February 2012 to put certain checks on tourists visiting adivasi areas, it has turned out to be a blatant lie. In the same breath as the power centres in Delhi and Shahid Nagar are implementing the much-debated industrialization and displacement laws at gun-point, they are sending tourists to adivasi areas to click naked pictures of the adivasis, and turning these areas into tourism-friendly commodities. In Ganjam and Kandhamal, such inhuman activities are going on through unwritten permission by the district SPs in corrupt connivance with the said power centres. The same government that is sending police forces to these areas to ablaze forests, to burn down heaps of dry turmeric leaves, and to destroy people’s properties and lives is sending foreign tourists to click barren hills and bare bodies of adivasis: this is an insult to the people.
Because of all these, we have arrested two Italian tourists (one of them is a tourism trader licensed by the state government):
- Bosusco Paolo, B, Pralesio 10, Condove (to), Italy
- Clavdio Colangelo, via Di Frascati, 215, 00040 Rocca Di Papa, Italy
By doing so, we are exposing the real face of the government bereft any shred of humanism that has taken adivasi areas as some tourism commodity, as though these places are habitats of apes and chimpanzees. We are requesting the common mass to raise voice against turning adivasi areas into tourism commodities. Having arrested these two Italian culprits, we are also releasing two Odia slaves of theirs—Santosh and Kartik.
If the government is serious about freeing these two visitors, central and state governments should as primary condition stop all repression and combing operations in Odisha by 18 March 2012, and come forward to discuss our demands with us. If this is not done, we cannot take this government into confidence; and we will not be responsible for the loss of lives of the two visitors, rather the government that is unleashing terror without heeding to our demands and the state machinery that is running an illegal tourism trade will be.
- Adivasis are not commodities of tourism and adivasi areas are not recreation spots for tourists. Announce this clearly and arrest those who violate it.
- Stop repression in the name of Operation Green Hunt. Recall all police camps from remote areas, except from thanas. Create conducive space for dialogues with revolutionaries over people’s problems.
- Repeal the ban on the CPI (Maoist) and other mass organizations in Odisha.
- Arrest and try under murder and rape cases SPs and other police employees involved in fake encounters and custodial deaths of Lalit Dehuri, Junesh Badaraita, Pradeep Majhi, and others and in the gang rape case of Arati Majhi. Withdraw all charges against Arati Majhi and release her.
- Release Ashutosh, Kamalakanta Sethi, Sujata, Kishor Jena, Pratap, Manjulata, and all those arrested in connection to the attack on the Nayagarh Armoury.
- Stop slapping fresh false cases against and detaining in jail those who are acquitted by courts. In this context, release unconditionally Subhashree Das and Lalit from Rayagada along with all others re-arrested or detained.
- Release Shatrughna Biswal, Uttam, Shekhar, Sudarshan Mandal, Ramesh Nayak, Lata, Bijal, Ratna along with all other innocent people from Rayagada, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Ganjam, Nayagarh, Sambalpur, Mayurbhanj, Kendujhar, and other districts who have been put behind bars in the name of being Maoists.
- Do not repeal ‘adivasi status’ for Jhodia, Kanda Dora, Acha Kui, Gauda Kui, Kumbhar Kui, Saora, Odia Kandha, Khaira, and other adivasi communities, and recognize the ‘adivasi status’ of many other such communities.
- Provide access to drinking water in villages in all parts of Odisha, irrigation to farm lands, free health care in all Panchayats, and free education facilities up to high school.
- Stop police repression on all anti-displacement mass movements such as anti-POSCO, anti-Vedanta, and the Kalinganagar movements. Release all anti-displacement leaders and activists such as Abhay Sahu, Narayan Reddy, and others.
- Release Gananath Patra, the former Chairman of Daringbadi and Sonepur Sarpanch Swami, brother of Nachika Linga, and the two school students along with other leaders of mass movements and anti-repression movements who have been arrested by the vengeful police forces. Stop slapping cases endlessly against people associated with Mandrabaju, Nedingpadar, Gudari, and Narayanpatna land-rights movements. Release those who have been implicated in similar cases and are in jail after withdrawing all the cases.
- Institute independent enquiries into state-sponsored dramas of issuing false statements under pressure and threatening during surrenders, and creating a covert campaign against the Revolution. Institute enquiry by independent bodies and take due action against the Kendujhar police for detaining Sangeet Pradhan for years after he surrendered and suffered a fracture in his hand due to police torture.
- Meet all the unfulfilled demands placed during the arrest of the Malkangiri Collector by the Maoists.
We appeal to the common people to support and rally for these just and democratic demands and force the government to come for dialogues.
SUNIL, Secretary, CPI (Maoists)
Odisha State Organizing Committee