MAC: Mines and Communities

Blockade against Kalinga Nagar still in place

Published by MAC on 2006-02-22
Source: Statesman News Service ()

Blockade against Kalinga Nagar still in place

JAJPUR, Statesman News Service

22nd February 2006

Efforts to resolve the nearly two-month-long crisis at Kalinga Nagar by way of negotiating with the agitating tribals to lift the road blockade once again failed today.

The much awaited meeting between Jajpur district administration and a delegation of tribal leaders belonging to the Visthapan Birodhi Jana Manch lasted for four hours today without making any headway as far as lifting of the rasta roko movement was concerned.

Leaders of the movement - Mr Chakradhar Haibaru (Sr), Mr Rajendra Kalundia, Mr Rabindra Jarika, D Kalundia and Manoj Jamda stuck to their demands and pre-conditions for any talks with the chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik.

The district administration represented by the district collector Dr A Padhee, welfare officer Mr Sivaji Bhuyan and a block development officer Mr PR Das were stonewalled facing demands which were beyond them.

The Janamanch leaders submitted a written four point pre-condition for negotiations with chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik.

They wanted the CM to declare through a public notification or press release that he was willing to discuss political issues with them relating to Kalinga Nagar area, return the severed palms of victims for proper cremation, suspend and institute criminal cases against former district collector and superintendent of police, former additional district magistrate and initiate the process of withdrawal of cases against agitating tribals.

We have put the ball in the CM's court by sending our pre-conditions, now it is for him to make the necessary announcements and facilitate further talks, said Mr Rabindra Jarika. Mr Jarika had been recently released from jail and is on bail.
The prosecution had not objected to his bail application ostensibly as a gesture of conceding to the demands of the tribals. But Mr Jarika refuses to acknowledge this and says his application was moved and the court deemed it proper to grant him bail.

Interestingly, the venue of today's meeting became an issue since tribals suspected that meeting at the originally proposed venue - NINL guest house was not safe for them. At the last minute they informed the district authorities that they will meet only at the High School at Gobarghati which is close to the mass cremation site.

The meeting finally took place at the school.

The district authorities implored upon the tribal delegation to lift the road blockade and pointed out that they were not competent to meet any of the above four demands.

According to reliable sources, the tribals are presently holding a meeting of their village committees to chalk out future course of action. It is pertinent to note that the Janamanch leaders had recently invited leaders of all opposition parties seeking their advise on how to carry forward their struggle for land rights. The Opposition leaders had requested them to call off the rasta roko agitation and move to different districts mobilizing tribals all over the state.

It was in this backdrop that the tribals had agreed to meet the district authorities but set pre-conditions for talks with the CM.

Meanwhile, the Janamanch has also been facing troubles of its own by way of infighting and dissidence. While Mr Chakradhar Haibaru(Sr), Mr Rabi Jarika, Mr Rajendra Kalundia and others are on one side, Mr Haibaru (Jr) has distanced himself from them.

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