MAC: Mines and Communities

Palms Find No Takers

Published by MAC on 2006-05-23
Source: Telegraph (Calcutta)

Palms find no takers

Telegraph (Calcutta), Bhubaneswar

23rd May 2006

The tribals of Kalinga Nagar today dealt a blow to the government by refusing to accept the chopped palms of five anti-displacement protesters killed in the January 2 firing.The refusal came on the grounds that the palms looked pale and did not go with the bodies of those killed.

Had the tribals accepted the palms, it could have given the government a great deal of bargaining power to make the Adivasis remove the Daitari-Paradip expressway blockade. Doctors at the Jajpur district hospital had reportedly cut the palms of Ram Gagrai, Ati Jamuda, Landu Jarika, Bhagaban Sae and Mukuta Bankira to obtain fingerprints as the faces of the five tribals were disfigured.

The Jajpur district administration recently asked the tribals to collect the palms from the same hospital on May 18. But the villagers did not turn up and postponed the collection to today. After receiving the chopped palms, they were supposed to conduct a mass cremation at Birbhumi, the same place where the 13 slain tribals were laid to rest.

Three relatives of Jamuda, Jarika and Banira reached the hospital this afternoon to collect the palms. But they soon changed their mind. Nati Angrai, a tribal leader, said the palms had become swollen and pale. "How could we accept the palms which were beyond recognition? They (doctors) even peeled off the skin from the palms." Upen Jamuda, the father of Ati Jamuda, alleged that the palms could have belonged to some other person. "The roadblock would continue," Angrai said.

Jajpur district welfare officer Shivaji Bhuyan, who was assigned the handover job, said: "They were not ready to listen to us." A disappointed Arabinda Padhee, the Jajpur collector, said: "This proves that their agitation is being guided by some outside elements. No amount of persuasion could convince them. The district administration would now try to isolate the "outsiders", he added.

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