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Orissa Adivasis Warn Government about Repressing Democratic Movements

Bhubaneswar: Maoist-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh and 14 other organisations today warned the government against repressing democratic movements, while staging a demonstration near the Assembly amid massive police deployment.

"The sangh and other mass organisations have been fighting for their rights over land, water and forest and against plunder of natural resources by multinationals. But, the state has been trying to crush the movements and thus protect the interest of MNCs," said sangh leader Gananath Patra.

"The state should desist from repressive policy and release all those arrested in the name of Maoists," Patra added. Incidentally, tribal youths Sumanta Majhi and Andio Majhi were arrested from Berhampur station on their way to the rally on the suspicion that they were Maoists.

Claiming that more than 40 people have been killed in police action against democratic agitation, Prafulla Samantara of Lokshakti Abhiyan, asked the government to stop using police as a tool of exploitation. "People will be forced to take to streets and unseat the government," he threatened.

Samantara, an anti-displacement activist, spoke about the 2006 Kalinga Nagar firing which claimed 14 tribals while opposing a Tata Steel project.

Describing the Koraput-based peace committee as the second edition of Salwa Judum, Dandapani Mohanty of Orissa Forest Mazdoor Union, alleged that moneylenders, illicit liquor traders, land-grabbers and corporate houses were funding the committee. He demanded a ban on the organisation and a judicial probe into the "fascist" attack on a rally organised by sangh at Narayanpatna (Koraput) on May 5 and 8.

Hundreds of tribals today participated in the rally, carrying placards and shouting "give us our rights, or be prepared for the consequences".

The capital turned into a police contingent with 25 platoons of armed forces on the streets.

A 20-point memorandum, addressed to the chief minister, was submitted. Demands included implementation of a new land reform policy on the lines of Andhra Pradesh and Northeast protecting the interest of tribals, recognition of peoples' rights over land, forest, water and mineral, not allowing MNCs and private companies to use traditional energy sources. Also in demand wre construction of smaller dams and food security to forest workers, bamboo cutters and kendu leaf pluckers.

Telegraph India, October 20, 2009