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Government, Adivasi Standoff Continues In Orissa

Published by MAC on 2006-05-25
Source: NDTV

Govt, adivasi standoff continues in Orissa

Purshottam Singh Thakur, NDTV (Bhubaneshwar)

25th May 2006

The Orissa government's effort to initiate a dialogue with the Kalinga Nagar adivasi protestors was derailed on Tuesday.

The protestors refused to accept the chopped palms of five adivasis of Kalinga Nagar, who were killed in the police firing on January 2.

The shocking decision to severe the palms was taken during post mortem apparently for the purpose of identification.

But after the public outcry an embarrassed state government asked the state Human Rights Commission to inquire into the matter.

Local protests

On Tuesday, nearly five months after the incident, the government in a move to appease the local people asked relatives to come forward and collect the remains of the dead.

"We came here because we wanted to complete the death rites by cremating the palms. But now I am not sure which of the decomposed palms are my son's," said Upen Jamuda, victim's father.

The adivasis say that the administration should have returned the palms much earlier.

"Why didn't they return the palms after they handed over the bodies? By then every one knew the names and addresses of the people killed in police firing. Today these are badly decomposed and no one can identify them anymore," said Notty Angre, Leader, People's Anti-Displacement Front.

The Kalinga Nagar agitation against industrialisation involving large-scale displacement has gained strength ever since local women decided to take over the leadership.

After Tuesday's fiasco, the government's hopes of a negotiated settlement with the agitators appears unrealistic.

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