Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mass movements must fight corporates: Arundhati Roy

SATYASUNDAR BARIK


Writer Arundhati Roy, who faced an angry protest by Sangh Parivar activists here on Sunday, urged those involved in mass movements to oppose corporates which she said were eyeing the rich natural resources of tribal heartlands.

Ms. Roy came here to attend a meeting on ‘Cultural resistance to war on people in corporate interest.'

As soon as she reached the venue, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Bajrang Dal activists waved black flags to protest her recent remarks on Kashmir, terming them anti-national.

They also started shouting that she should leave the venue immediately. Soon a scuffle broke out. The organisers chased away the agitators. The police took at least 10 of them into custody.

Unperturbed, Ms. Roy addressed hundreds of tribal activists from different parts of Orissa. “The number of poor people living in India will be more than that of the total poor in 26 African countries. The condition of poverty in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal is critical. All the attention is, however, trained on these States, as these poor are raising their voice against land acquisition attempts by big corporates of the world,” she said.

She said the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, prohibited land acquisition in tribal areas. “But now, people in power say it is imperative to acquire land from tribals for development. Those who frame policies are the violators.”

“Earlier people's movements had sprouted to get back excess land lying with zamindars. But the nature of the struggle has undergone a change. Now it is a fight not to let the land — whatever is left with the tribal population — be snatched by the corporate-backed government,” she said.

Ms. Roy alleged that leaders thought development was possible only when 80 per cent of the population started living in urban areas, and they wanted to vacate villages in the interest of corporates. “They are inviting the military to take over the affairs. Our States are becoming military States. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Lalgarh have already been militarised.”

Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao and Oriya writer Bibhuti Patnaik spoke.

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