Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
M.Rampur in Kalahandi District is home to wretchedly poor tribal people who seldom get a day that gives them reprieve from slow-starvation. Orissa Government is helping a liquor trader hijack whatever little amount they earn through drudgery. The political fellows know, the bureaucrats know, the police know, the excise personnel know and the wage earners know that liquor not only drains out whatever little money the tribal male earns; but also splits his society and ruins his family life. Yet, the government has allowed a profit monger establish a country-liquor factory in Pipadi of Barabandha Gram Panchayat in spite of public protests.
Barabandha is a Panchayat where 80% of the population is tribal having no source of regular income. Perched in inaccessible high land, clusters of their huts are witness to how the innocent children of Nature are left under the mercy of rural mafia, who, donning ruling party attire, loot the welfare funds, sharing the booty with the local officers and denude their habitats of the forest that they had been traditionally depending on to survive. Except a handful of persons who live on time bound salary and a shrewd few who exploit the tribals, almost all of them are far below the poverty line. Yet, in such a place, the only factory the government could think of establishing is a factory of country liquor!
Rightly aware of how this factory would damage them, the women of the locality have been opposing it from the day of its announcement; but in vain.
They have made representations to the government for cancellation of the license of the liquor factory; but the government does not respond.
Communications from Narayan Behera and Satya Narayan Pattanayak who represent the thinking minds that stand with the poor people in their just cause, convey us that tortured more by the government’s recalcitrant attitude, hundreds of local public staged a Satyagraha and hunger strike before the Block Office of M.Rampur on 11 October that continued.
Ambajharana Mahila Sangha President Ms. Sajana Majhi, Ms. Nilendri Majhi of Udegiri, Ms. Shairendri Majhi, Chairperson of Ma Kokari Mahila Sangha, and its Secretary Ms. Sakuntala Suna took the lead.
Even as excise and police officers were trying to dissuade the Satyagrahis, the owner of the liquor factory Narayan Prasad had pressed paid goons to intimidate them. But the women Satyagrahis were determined to save their families from hook, come what may.
Women organizations from Udegiri, Dumeri, Madapadara, Rangaparu, Karleka, Chitera, Lusurubaru, Badipadara etc participated in the Satyagraha along with right thinking mail persons of the locality.
The Satyagraha and hunger strike continued till 13 October when functionaries of the Panchayat Samiti wanted 15 days time to expedite their demand in proper administrative forums. In presence of the Secretary of Seva Jagat that morally supports the satyagraha, Chairman and BDO of the Panchayat samiti as well as the local excise officer, after consultation with the Additional Destrict Magistrate, Kalahandi, gave a written assurance that they will take up the matter with the Collector for closure of the liquor factory at its present site within 15 days. The movement front liners witnessed the document.
If the government does not do away with the liquor factory, we will do everything to stop it, the women leaders have declared.
M.Rampur is one amongst thousands of places that show how anti-people is Navin Patnaik administration.