Report by Badal Tah; Kashipur : Assembly elections are due in Odisha in 2019. Currently, there is a significant disconnect between indigenous communities’ demands and needs and the political parties’ promises that are short lived till they win the votes of the people. Till there are sections of society that cannot participate in the democratic process, we cannot create a healthy, strong democracy. Thus, this is the time to reverse the process of manifesto making.
As an alternative, “People’s Manifesto” has been declared on the eve of International Human Rights Day, which is a bottom-up approach for influencing policy making a comprehensive document containing people’s demands. There needs to be a creation of such spaces where the affected people can talk about their issues and how they envision solutions. It is important that the agenda of a large number of Adivasis and Dalits, those who have faced the wrath of either bad government policies or the lack of their implementation, finds prominent place in the manifestos of mainstream political parties.
The excluded community members launched a ‘Cycle Yatra’ on November 15, Birsa Munda Divas. This cycle journey of 1500 kilometers culminated on December 9 at Bhiubaneswar, where these village leaders and representatives, armed with case studies and demands presented their Manifesto to the political parties in the presence of mainstream media.
Unfortunately, while the Cycle Yatra was proceeding smoothly under the leadership of Sri Nabin Nayak of Jana Jagaran Manch of Kashipur, Rayagada, Nabin met with a fatal accident at Madhapur, Boudh on 5th December and succumbed to his injuries. Nevertheless, the the Yatra went on.
Leaders of Odisha Adibasi Manch, Jana Jagaran Manch, People’s Task Force, Samannowya- an initiative of federation of NGOs and hundreds of Adibasis and Dalits & various people’s organisations assembled at Nabin’s house to pay homage to the departed soul on Human Rights day. Nabin’s son, who is the budding activist said,” As educated individuals of a developing society, it is our responsibility to facilitate this enormous democratic process which will entail equal rights and representation.” Tribal leaders like Bidulata Huika, Dibakar Sabar, Satya Pratika, Dharuni Saraka, Akshey Pidisika, Anita Pidikaka, Rama Chandra Huika, Laxmi Sabar reminisced Nabin’s contribution towards adibasi and dalit empowerment. Sri Kailash Mishra, State President, People’s Task Force, Bhubaneswar cherished Nabin’s contribution in realising the entitlement of flagship govt programmes like MGNREGA, FRA and NFSA. Rajesh-Samannowya and R S Panda from Pallisri, Therubali mourned over the untimely demise of Nabin and addressed the youth assembled to take up the cudgel of human rights which were so close to Nabin.
“From the status of a daily labourer and vegetable vendor, Nabin got agitated at the plight of the project affected persons of the then green field mining- a joint venture of Tata and Norsk Hydro- a Norwegian aluminium company at Kashipur. He was instrumental in negotiating rights of the people of Kashipur”, said senior scribe Badal Tah representing Society for Fast Justice, Rayagada. After the condolence meet, it was decided to institute a fellowship in the name of Nabin. The members present assured the bereaved family members to stand firmly with them and the cause Nabin fought for.