Published: Saturday 31 March 2001

A report compiled by the Delhi Forum, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation, on Koel Karo killings of February 2, 2001, has alleged that the police fired at unarmed protestors without any provocation. Members of the Koel Karo Jan Sangathan (KKJS), an organisation of indigenous people, had assembled at Tapkara village in Ranchi district of Jharkhand to protest against the beating up of a member of KKJS by the police (see 'Koel Karo firing', Down To Earth , Vol 9, No 20, March 15). Six people were killed and 50 others injured during the incident.

The report New Jharkhand State -- Unmasked. Koel Karo Turns Red states that the police officials fired for "a full one hour on 5,000 people without any provocation." The police officials negating this charge say that they were forced to resort to firing because the crowd had attacked them with bricks and stones. "Ransacked outposts, four burnt jeeps, one dead and several injured police personnel, including the officer-in-charge of our post is a proof of this fact," said a police official of Tapkara.

The 710-megawatt Koel Karo project is the largest hydel scheme in Ranchi. It involves construction of dams on Koel and north Karo rivers in Ranchi, Gunia and Singhbhum districts. The KKJS has successfully opposed the projects for many years now. The reasons for protests against the dam are many: it would submerge about 10,522 hectares (ha) of cultivable land, 5,666 ha of barren land and 364 ha government land. The dam would displace 3,282 families in 26 villages of Gumla district and 1,157 families in 16 villages in Ranchi district, of which, 90 per cent are indigenous people. The Supreme Court had stalled the project in 1980s after an indigenous leader filed a writ petition. The state government is heavily banking on this project to meet its growing energy needs.

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