Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tribals up in arm in Koraput, grab land taken over by non-tribals

17 Jun 2009, 2009 hrs IST, Nageshwar Patnaik , ET Bureau

BHUBANESWAR: More than 5000 tribals living in four panchyats under Narayanpatna block in southern Maoist dominated Koraput districts are up in arms.
They have forcibly taken over their lands allegedly cornered by non-tribals over a period of time and are demanding immediate change of record of rights into their names.

The situation remains tense as the officials have not yet been able to bring the agitators to negotiating table. On top of it, the tribals have blocked the road leading to Naraynpatna by felling trees, officials said.

The tribals organized under the banner of Chasi Muliya Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) forcibly occupied lands belonging to non-tribals across Narayanpatna block of Koraput district on Monday. A month ago, the tribals were alleged to have killed a 40-year-old man and destroyed hundreds of homes in several villages of the in an offensive - rarely seen in the area for ages. Several harijan families, who left their villages for fear of being attacked are still without shelter and food, according to have yet to return home, according to Mr Ratan Das, who lead a team of social activists under the banner of Orissa Sadbhaban Sahnit Abijan [OSSA] to Naryanpatna last week.

CMAS has been fighting against illegal possession of tribal lands though fraudulent means and other basic facilities from the government. In fact, CMAS leader Nachika Linga had confessed before the CMAS team of restoring 150 acres of land to tribals which had been taken over by non-tribals.

Officials, however, said attempts are being made to restore land to rightful tribal land owners under due procedure of revenue laws. “We have already restored some 20 acres of land to tribals suo motto in just a month’s time. It will take some time to identify the land usurped by non-tribals. We have called CMAS for discussion, but they remain unrelenting”, southern revenue divisional commissioner, Satyabrat Sahu on Wednesday told “The ET” over telephone from Koraput.

Mr Sahu said the government had taken up several development activities as demanded by CMAS.

For the last 36 hours, Narayanpatna has remained cut off from the district headquater while the CMAS had demanded the officials to come to their villages for discussion. As the villages come under Maoist influence, the district officials seem not prepared to fall to their trap.

Sources said some 500 acres in five grampanchyats under Narayanpatna block have been illegally taken over by non-tribals affecting about 5000 tribals. Only 15% comprise non-tribals in the block with a population of 45,000.

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