Odisha: Italian hostage crisis sparks mass tourist cancellations in state

, March 21, 2012

Bhubaneswar: Panic gripped Odisha’s fledgling tourism industry following mass cancellations of visit to the state in the backdrop of the Italian hostage crisis. Tour operators said they received a spate of communications from their counterparts in other states and abroad cancelling, in particular, package tours, most of which were scheduled for the last week of March and next month. “I had at least four package tours planned in the coming weeks. All have been cancelled. A major tour operator from Italy promoting a regular series of tours to Odisha has cancelled five bookings till October. The operator is now thinking of diverting the tourists to other states in the country,” said Benjamin, a city-based tour operator. “Many visitors have expressed their concern on the situation and are thinking of cancelling their program to Odisha,” he pointed out. Yugabrat Kar, a tour operator in Puri, echoed similar woes.

Maoists kidnapped four people on March 14 from a jungle on Kandhamal-Ganjam border, including two Italians, Bosusco Paolo and Claudio Colangelo, both of whom remain untraceable. Continue reading

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):

  1. Bosusco Paolo, B, Pralesio 10, Condove (to), Italy
  2. 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.

Our demands

  1. Adivasis are not commodities of tourism and adivasi areas are not recreation spots for tourists. Announce this clearly and arrest those who violate it.
  2. 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. Continue reading

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.”

Italians abducted: Maoists name three mediators

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

“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

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.”

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/orissa/Release-of-innocent-tribals-may-be-key-demand-of-Maoists/Article1-827201.aspx

“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

, TNN | Mar 18, 2012

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. Continue reading

Maoists Act–“Orissa: Imperialist tourism for ‘tribal entertainment’ in War Zones of Repression and Resistance” (Part Two)

Undated photograph shows Italian national Bosusco Paolo posing with tribal women at an undisclosed location in India.

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading