MAC: Mines and Communities

8216;Outsiders stoking fire’

Published by MAC on 2006-01-17

‘Outsiders stoking fire’

by Statesman News Service / BHUBANESWAR

17th January 2006

The House Committee of the Assembly on SCs and STs today alleged that “outsiders”, particularly NGOs, were instigating and fanning the agitation in Kalinga Nagar although the local tribals were ready for negotiations with the authorities.

In what is certain to raise eyebrows here, the House Committee members who visited the trouble-riddled Kalinga Nagar today, held a press conference in violation of the established practice of Committee not sharing their findings with the media till the report is placed in the Assembly.

It is not only that the practice was given a go-by by the Committee headed by Mr Jayaram Pangi the members had also named the NGO activists and organisations which had camped in Kalinga Nagar.

Mr Pangi was, however, caught on the wrong foot when asked whether these NGO activists had arrived in Kalinga Nagar after the police firing or they were instigating the tribals even before 2 January.

He replied that he was only referring to the 15-day long rasta roko agitation after the police firing. Another member of the Committee, however, intervened to point out that there were reports of Gananath Patra holding meetings in the villages prior to the firing.

The chairman of the committee, Mr Pangi, candidly stated that he had told the agitating villagers that they should lift the road blockade and it was not fair to allow all others barring the ruling BJD men and government enter the area. “I tried to impress upon them not to get carried away or influenced by the outside forces,” he said.

There are people from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and other districts of Orissa who are now camping there, he stated. The Committee members have also alleged that some political forces were also behind the agitation.

Asked why the Committee had not visited the area earlier when several national bodies including the National Commission on ST had already reached the place, Mr Pangi said: “It was only yesterday that we met and decided to go to Kalinga Nagar.”

A remark by one of the Committee members that “the situation was tense and nothing would have been achieved if they had gone earlier” prompted reporters to point out that tribal unrest had been on in the region since May 2005 prompting even the National Commission for ST to visit Kalinga Nagar in November, 2005.

Mr Pangi, however, claimed that the locals were willing to talk to the government provided three of their leaders including Rabi Jarika were released from the jail. “I have asked the district collector to examine the cases and see whether they can be released,” he added.

Replying to the questions, the Committee members said that they had been given a leaflet containing the seven demands of the agitating people which included land for land, murder cases to be registered against the DM and SP, resignation of chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik and finance minister Mr Prafulla Ghadei etc.

Tribals reject invitation

Aggrieved and hurt tribals from Kalinga Nager, who lost their twelve fellowmen in the police firing, today rejected the house committees invitation for the talks, according to an SNS report from Jajpur.

They have also refused to lift the road blockade.

Today a nine-member delegation team of House Committee headed by its chairman Mr Jayaram Pangi asked the tribals leaders to come for negotiations. Some of the tribals raised slogans against chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik.

Meanwhile, the road blockade on the Paradeep-Daitari Express Highway by the agitating tribals is continuing. Vehicular traffic has been completely paralyzed between Chandikhole and Duburi on the Express Highway causing huge revenue loss to the state economy. Collector Dr A Padhee said that the blockade on the Express Highway had adversely hit the economy of the area.

He advised the truckers operating between Paradeep Port and Iron Ore mines in both Jajpur and Keonjhar district to skirt the spot where the tribals have gathered to enforce the blockade.

Mr Padhee said that the flow of iron ore to the Paradip port had fallen by 50 per cent. Paradip Port Trust authorities said that about 2000 trucks were ferrying 20,000 tons of iron ore from Keonjhar to Paradeep Port Trust everyday. A senior port officials added that the daily flow has come down to about 10,000 tons. The Port is facing a revenue loss of about Rs 4 lakh everyday.

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