Dani Batra

In 2004, the Vedanta Alumina Company acquired around 3,000 acres of land in Rangopali, Potagada Bundel, Bandhuguda and other villages in the state of Odisha, on the promise of providing jobs for local people who had been displaced from their land to make way for the mine. The officials of the company also promised to provide free education for local children. None of these promises have been honoured. Vedanta Limited is the Indian subsidiary of the British-based Vedanta Resources, owned by Anil Agarwal.

The local communities are also opposed to the company’s mining activities in the Niyamgiri Hills which they consider sacred. Tribals, especially the Dongria Kondh tribe, who consider Niyamgiri hills sacred, accused Vedanta of polluting the environment and putting the entire population of the area at high risk. The Adivasi (tribal) people of Niyamgiri have since 2013 been calling on the government, to declare the Niyamgiri hills as Dongria Kondh habitat as per the Forest Rights Act.

The protests have been led by the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti which is a coalition of local communities.

The inhabitants of Niyamgiri are the Dongria Kondh people, who are settled in almost 112 villages across the Rayagada and Kalahandi districts of the state. They have been struggling for over a decade now to have their complaints addressed. Ever since the mining company, Vedanta Resources, started work to extract around 80 million tons of bauxite deposits from the hills, costing around USD 2 billion, the entire Niyamgiri belt has remained on edge, witnessing a number of indigenous people’s movements which the state apparatus has continued to suppress.

The local people are demanding that the illegal factory be closed down, the paramilitary be withdrawn and all cases against Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti activists be discarded. They also want the government to build schools and hospitals for the Adivasi people. Furthermore, they want the Lanjigarh area to be cleaned up as the refinery has caused contamination of air, water and soil. They also want the company to pay damages for the health hazards it has caused to the people.

The official police response has been to clamp down on peaceful protests and target their leaders. Several tribal activists defending the rights of marginalised tribes in Odisha have been arrested on charges of having connections with insurgent groups. The arrests intensified when the Union Home Ministry, in its April 2017 annual report, linked the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti with the armed Maoist movement

On 18 March, 2019, around 500 tribal members launched an indefinite protest in front of the main gate of the Vedanta refinery in Odisha, demanding jobs and free education for their children in the Vedanta-managed school at Lanjigarh.

Dani Batra, a Dalit-Ambedkarite activist, who tirelessly challenged Vedanta’s injustice towards the people of Lanjigarh was one of the leaders of the protests. On the morning of 18 March, 2019, Batra was outside the factory waiting for the gates to open when the protestors were attacked by the company’s security personnel. They beat him, broke his hands and legs with batons and threw him into a pond, causing his death.

Sujit Kumar Minj was also killed in the attack and fifty other people were injured.

The company has since announced a compensation amount of INR 25 lac for his death,”

The local peoples’ grievances have still not been addressed.



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Date of Killing:18/03/2019

Previous Threats:Unknown

Type of Work:Social protester

Sector or Type of Rights the HRD Worked On:ESC Rights

Sector Detail:Freedom of Assembly, Labour/Trade Union, Right to Eduction/Student Rights

More information:Front Line Defenders

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