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Surjagarh, Gadchiroli - Fact Finding Report on Mining, Repression and Resistance

This version of the report was published on 20th November 2023, at the Anti-Displacement Movement & State Repression Public Meeting and Press Conference, New Delhi, organised by Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization.

It has been compiled and published by Damkondawahi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, Fact Finding Team of Yuva Saathis. It has been compiled with the help of several online articles and contacts on ground.

Surjagarh Report on Mining, Repression and Resistance
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This report comes at a time of grave concern when today early morning, heavy police force surrounded Todgatta (Surjagarh, Gadchiroli) and protest leaders were picked up!! 8 movement leaders have been forcefully taken to Gadchiroli by helicopter - Mangesh Naroti, Pradeep Khedo, Sai Kawdo, Gillu Kawdo, Laxman Jetti, Mahadu Kawdo, Nikesh Naroti, Ganesh Korea and other. Their phones have been confiscated and there is no contact with them!

The police have also destroyed huts in Todgatta and are not allowing people to film! Lathi charge has taken place quite strongly and is still happening. Several saathis have sustained injuries. People are being beaten and herded into trucks (owned by the company) and taken to gadchiroli district HQ.

70+ Adivasi villages from across Surjagarh, Gadchiroli have been protesting for over 250 days against the 6 proposed iron mines, owned by Jindal Steel, Lloyd's and others.

Today early morning, police forces from multiple thanas arrived at Todgatta, the main protest site, and took all the protest leaders and important activists such as Pradip Khedo and Mangesh Naroti to the side. The police are searching and upturning all their belongings, and there is even female police present. This is a very concerning and urgent development, and the police are severely cracking down on the Damkondawahi Bachao Andolan.

Additionally, for the past two days, the police has released drone cameras in the region and has been filming around Todgatta. They even knew that some important movement activists like Lalsu Nogoti, Sushila Naroti, Rakesh Alam, Poonam Jetti, Vandu Ulke, and Sainu Hichami are currently travelling for a program in New Delhi.

For the past 250 days, there has been close to zero support from any politician towards the protest in Todgatta despite multiple news reports and direct letters to ministers. Now, suddenly, there is a huge crackdown despite the peaceful and democratic nature of the protest. This crackdown has come a few weeks after Adv. Lalsu Nogoti spoke virtually at the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Police are publicly claiming that "agitators allegedly stopped the way of security personnel from Gatta along with C-60 teams, a special anti-Maoist commando force of Maharashtra, who were all going towards Wangeturi through Todgatta to inaugurate a police station at Wangeturi on Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border. The Gadchiroli police claimed some locals complained to them that they were being forced to sit on the protest by Maoists. The police have detained eight of those people saying there was no use of any force by police."

Huts destroyed by the police:

Police Repression at Todgatta Currently:

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