Development flows from the barrel of a gun – A documentary by AKHRA

This award winning documentary film directed and produced by Biju Toppo and Meghnath for AKHRA, a Ranchi based activist group documents the illegal displacement of entire villages by the state and highlights the miscarriages of justice brought about by the skewed development policies in India.
8 Jul 2011
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Directed by Biju Toppo and Meghnath, Hindi with English subtitles, 58 mins

Cases have been covered in the documentary from all over the country - Utkal Alumina in Kashipur, Orissa; Koel Karo dam in Jharkhand; World Bank-funded forestry project in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh; steel plant in Nagarnar, Chhattisgarh and the new port in Umbergaon, Gujarat.

The documentary deals with the struggle of adivasis, the indigenous people in preserving their land, on which the development projects in question have been sited. Ironically, all these disputed projects are located on lands that are in ‘scheduled’ areas with large tribal population. Such areas have special rights and the Governor of the respective states have powers to make regulations for better governance and for protecting the rights of the tribal community. The documentary is a chilling reminder of how the most ordinary of citizens can be made into martyrs. At the first hint of organised-protest, the government, which is constitutionally obliged to protect the people steps in brutalizing and killing protestors, often on trumped up charges of violence.

The film records the events as objectively as possible and the facts speak for themselves. Dr Ram Dayal Munda, the narrator comments on the cases succinctly while much of the story is narrated by the victims and the local social activists. The local officials interviewed sound embarrassing. The result is a compelling, dramatic and very moving presentation of an extremely important story of indigenous and local peoples when they rally and protest against development projects on their land. The film is a tribute to the voices of dissent of the underprivileged people of India to the majoritarian development discourse.

Biju Toppo has made several documentary films on issues concerning indigenous peoples while Meghnath, the founding member of AKHRA is an activist in people's movement against destructive development. The filmmakers can be contacted at -

Shastri Nagar, Kanke Road
Ranchi 834 008, Jharkhand                                 

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