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India 2 June 2005

Filmmaker roughed up by police while covering protest against Canadian bauxite plant

Reporters Without Borders voiced shock today at the violent treatment which documentary filmmaker Vinod Raja received from Orissa state police on 25 May while filming a peaceful demonstration in Tikiri (in the eastern Kashipur region) by members of local indigenous communities opposed to the installation of a Canadian bauxite plant.

The press freedom organization said it deplored the use of police violence to protect the interests of a foreign company and urged the Indian authorities to sanction those who attacked Raja and to compensate him for the destruction of his camera.

The demonstration was held to protest previous police violence against those opposed to the proposed plant. The protesters left Kuchepadhar at noon and, at around 4 p.m., reached the outskirts of Tikiri where they found the way blocked by anti-riot police.

Raja was filming the roadblock when eight policemen rushed at him and tried to take his camera from him. After a struggle lasting several minutes, the police seized his camera, threw it to the ground and kicked it to pieces.

The proposed installation of a bauxite plant worth more than 1 billion dollars by a Canadian consortium, Utkal Alumina & Alcan, has been opposed by local indigenous communities for 13 years on the grounds that they would lose their lands and be displaced.

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