Thousands of rural poor particularly tribals, dalits, share-croppers and poor peasants of South Odisha thronged the streets of Berhampur in Odisha on 4th of March on the occasion of CPI(ML) New Democracy’s Jana Sanghrash Samabesh.
This rally was called for demanding
1) to distribute land to landless amending the existing pro-landlord Odisha Land Reforms Act,
2) rights over forest to tribals and poor non tribal forest dwellers as per the Forest Right Act,
3) To stop the loot of resource and forcible land acquisition in the name of development,
4) To hike minimum wage to Rs.300,
5) To give legal rights to lakhs of share croppers who constitute more than 60% of the peasantry in Odisha and
6) end to police repression on poor particularly the tribals in the name of anti-Maoist operation in forest areas.
On the call of CPI(ML)ND thousands of rural poor from seven districts namely Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Koraput and Nayagada congregated at the Berhampur railway station in the early hours of 4th March. By 12 pm a huge rally of nearly eight thousand people full of red flags and banners and traditional weapons started from the railway station. The rally crossed most of the important squares and streets of Berhampur and ended in front of the Revenue Divisional Commissioner’s Office. Young Comrades both boys and girls of revolutionary cultural organization Inquilab Sanskrutika Manch performed their dance on the drumbeats throughout the way. After reaching the rally venue a public meeting was started which was presided over by Com. Bhalachandra, spokesperson of Odisha PC of CPI(ML)ND.
Speaking to the gathering Senior CPI(ML) New Democracy leader Com. Ashish Mital exposed the anti-people policies of ruling class and hailed the gathering for continuing their heroic struggle for land in various parts of South Odisha. He also hailed the historic role played by the anti displacement struggles in Odisha in putting a brake on the neoliberal policies of ruling class to loot our resources in the name of development. He also urged the people to carry forward the legacy of Naxalbari struggle where people’s participation was ensured. Speaking on the occasion veteran communist revolutionary and advisor of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha, Narayanapatana, Com. Gananath Patro urged the people to carry out struggles against the landlords by capturing their land.
Senior tribal leader and CPI(ML) ND leader com. Budhha Gomango said that today’s gathering of rural poor is the reflection of their growing resentment against the policies of ruling class. Addressing the gathering well known farmer leader and AIKMS state Convenor Com. Natabar Sarangi focused on the plight of the peasantry of Odisha. He said that Govt. after Govt. have betrayed the farmers of the state. Though the share croppers constitute more than 60% of the peasantry of the state they have been denied of from their legitimate rights. In the end in his presidential speech Com. Bhalachandra said that today’s gathering will be a historic one as the struggling poor of South Odisha assembled in large numbers to give a clear message to the rulers to change their policies. Hailing the historic struggle of people of Narayanapatana he said that the farce going on there in the name of surrender will not solve the problem. He urged the Naveen Patnaik Govt that instead of using force can it show the courage to give the tribals of Narayanapatna their legitimate right over their land? He warned the Govt. that the poor people led by our party will organize democratic resistance against the ongoing repression by police and paramilitary forces in the name of anti Maoist operation in tribal area.
The rally which was one of the biggest gathering of the rural poor in the recent past has attracted wide scale attention of the intelligentsia and enthused the struggling people.