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Women Lead Kalinganagar Agitation

Published by MAC on 2006-05-02

Women lead Kalinganagar agitation

Sampad Mahapatra, (Kalinganagar)

2nd May 2006

A group of women has taken over the reins of the agitation against industrialisation in Orissa's Kalinganagar, where 13 tribal protestors were killed in police firing on January 2.

The incident had sparked off public outcry with leaders and activists staging protests, and the site being named Veer Bhoomi.

While the outrage and political attention has since dwindled, the local adivasis are determined to carry on their fight.

"The men may choose to go on the backfoot but women from the 16 villages have resolved to continue our fight for survival and human dignity," said Bini Soye, President, Women's Action Committee.

"We don't fear death. We have lost 13 lives and are ready to sacrifice another 1300. But we will not allow any industry to come up here. That's a promise," she added.

Awaiting talks

The adivasis are continuing their blockade on the National Highway No 200 which was initiated after the police firing in January.

They are yet to be invited for a dialogue with the state government that they had been promised.

The protestors were initially willing to talk even if the government agreed to three of their seven demands, but the delay has prompted them to toughen their stand.

"The state government is not serious about finding a solution, which is why the road blockade continues. They underestimate our strength. We now feel we should put up blockades on other roads so the government comes under some pressure," said Ravi Jarika, leader of the People's Anti-Displacement Front.

The agitation has refused to wither away, and has highlighted the contradictions between industrialisation and displacement. Kalinganagar is clearly a test case for everyone, irrespective of which side of the fence they are on.

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