Commemorating 25th anniversary of spark ignited in Padmagiri-Pandaripani  landmark struggle

This week we commemorate 25 years since the launching of the peasant struggle in Padmagiri Pandaripani  in Malkangiri in Orissa which was landmark event in history of Indian revolutionary Movement. Such agitations are the turning point in the seeking of liberation of the oppressed from the clutches of exploiter classes. It was symbolic of planting the seeds of agrarian revolutionary movement by knitting a series of struggles.Massline practice was exhibited at it’s zenith here. The Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh was the architect of it, which about 3 decades ago created a new epoch in the history of tribal movement in Orissa,of which Padmagiri uprising is an important chapter.

The Malkangiri Zilla Adivasi Sangh was formed in 1977 and re-organized in 1988.It’s leadership created the base for protracted resistance confronting the left deviationist annihilation line of armed squads and the right opportunist line of electioneering. It repaired the wounds of both the deviations at the very roots by adopting mass democratic revolutionary approach through democratic functioning and continuous struggles. Membership regularization was a constant feature. People gained great confidence in establishing struggles on their strength to confront the ruling classes. Leaflets were drafted on the initiative and by Sangh members themselves .Protracted resistance struggle on Adivasi class issues shaped its emergence.

The struggle lit the spark for the peasant masses to  come out of oblivion to assert their democratic assertion of collective will and create their own organisation combining the autocracy of the socio-political authority. Today exactly 25 years ago on November 23rd  a spark turned into a prairie fire in Tulenguda and Baliapa villages of Padmagari Panchayat .Hundreds of  adivasis armed with axes and bows , challenged the armed thugs of the contractor with death defying courage. The lion was literally overpowered in its own den with contractors private army compelled to retreat or bow down to the tribals.The struggle was a perfect illustration of an ebb and flow in a resistance struggle reminiscent of many characters in a play making an impact in different junctures with their contradictions.

Another significant development was the formation of a separate women’s wing 25 years ago as a sister organization. We also commemorate 20 years since a successful struggle was launched confronting felling of bamboo trees which was the precursor of a major rectification movement in style of work. This was another illustration of development of massline.Significantly it is also 10 years since it launched an impactful demonstration opposing Operation Greenhunt.

In addition to this the MZAS launched historic struggles with traditional weapons against the HAMCO project, felling of bamboo trees and Construction of a pipeline that embarrassed or shook imperialism and feudalism in its very belly. One of it’s most remarkable achievements was its resistance against construction of a pipeline. Here revolutionary forces were galvanised to the optimum and crystallisation of the resistance to the deepest depths.

All these struggles were like chapters of an epic novel.

Their consistent practice and experience proved that it was premature to build armed revolutionary squads pr undertake armed squad actions. Often the MZAS activists had to confront the armed squads of the erstwhile C.P.I.(M.L.)Peoples War Group who tried make squad actions the chief pivot of the movement.

Today we predominantly hear about the armed squad actions of the C.P.I. (Maoist) in Orissa with many sympathisers claiming it represent mass line or creating revolutionary Organ s of power. No doubt they have made great sacrifices and organized resistance but their armed squads are not able to consolidate social base of democratic revolutionary movement. Even democratic forms of power are overturned by the police with the Maoists unable to replenish their forces or base of democratic movement.

Often in cases of actions of Maoist armed squads the people were literally spectators. One of the major architects of carving the Sangh towards practice of correct line was Comrade Purshottam  Pali.From 1992-2002 Comrade Gundhar Murmu was the main architect. In 1985 a major political struggle was launched against imposing participation as a candidate of a leader of the Sangh.

The Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh is of the firm opinion that subjective conditions do not exist for launching armed struggle today. In the past it also confronted by Maoist forces in May Day programme who also opportunistically collaborated with the Essar group to compromise to obtain funds.

What was outstanding was the dialectical methodology the Sangh adopted as well as creative approach .It made a most accurate analysis of the subjective factors prevailing. It undertook programmes with the clinical precision of a surgeon performing an operation blended with the intensity of an army battalion launching a surgical operation. In important respects it imbibed lesson from the Chinese path in concentrating in selected areas to consolidate, before spreading.

The decentralisation methods it formulated and practiced played an important role in shaping the Sangh’s further consolidation.

Professor G.N.Saibaba had great words to say about in in terms of creating mass revolutionary resistance. The best revelation of the Organization was every year on May Day when it shimmered its spark at it’s zenith to symbolize the mass revolutionary aspirations of the masses. They also feel that the Maoists are unable to create any social democratic base for their armed squads and feel their actions led to counter repression which the cadre and people cannot face.

Quoting a sympathiser of the revolutionary Movement “”The Sangh is inventing new form s of struggle with every passing day. They are utilizing Social boycott as weapon which was previous used by exploiters. Their heroic struggle in Padmagiri-Pandrapeni is a morale –booster to the rest of the country. I believe heart and soul if mass movements flourish all over India,t hen Malkangiri will be the fist to establish Red rule in the country in the years to come. So, all of us should support it  and expand mass movements all over the country.”

In 1997 a team of activists went from Mumbai who earlier belonged to trends of the Chandra Pulla Reddy and Erstwhile C.P.I(M.L.) Peoples War Groups ,attended the May day programme in Malkangiri. They were all convinced that in their lifetime they had never witnessed such deep level of revolutionary democratic functioning.In their vie wthe ‘people were running the show’ more than anywhere.

No doubt today other revolutionary groups are putting in serious efforts like the C.P.I.(M.L.) and the C.P.I.(M.L.)New Democracy., through their Adivasi Organizations. Although substantial in numbers they have veered towards parliamentary politics.

The MZAS is of the firm view that today subjective conditions do not prevail to adopt tactics of ‘parliamentary participation’ or adopt tactics of ‘Active Boycott.’It firmly adheres to line of ‘Active political campaign’ which respects people’s level of consciousness. It has pointed out numerous instances when the Maoist’s ‘Boycott’ call morally supported ruling class party candidates or aligned with different factions.Similarly it exposed the tailism of certain revolutionary groups whose participation in elections makes them more part of the parliamentary democraticfabric rather than sharpening revolutionary politics.

There has been a powerful trend by the state to dub the Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh as a Maoist front which has been refuted tooth and nail by its activists and leaders. On the other hand the state and Social media have spread false news that the MZAS pledges to fight the Maoists.

In it’s peak era arguably it practiced mass line in agrarian revolution better than any tribal organisation in India. Although in different spheres the Padmageri-Pandaripani struggle,struggle against HAMCO.struggle against pipeline  and Struggle against felling of Bamboo trees all had a similar thread running through  in essence, like the flowing water of an Ocean. I cannot forget ho w impressed so many intellectuals were of the resistance built in the forests of the MZAS.

To me it is the most qualitative May Day rally held in the country by any mass organization in rural areas, exposing feudalism and imperialism at its very backbone. I received a most impressive report from the convenor of the MZAZ on the May Day programme illustrating it’s qualitative service towards the agrarian revolution.

A very significant feature of the Sangh is their annual May Day programmes where the torch of resistance against feudalism and imperialism is shimmered at its boiling point or crescendo. No tribal movement in India has fused itself so intensely with the working class as in Malkangiri.

A major problem or hurdle that is causing hindrance to the Sangh is the casteist  politics flouted by Opposition parties like Congress which promote divisim or segregation.

When you witness such a confrontaion with MNC’s one questions whether imperialism has replaced feudalism as the principal contradiction. However the prevalence of the Sahukars or moneylenders at such a prominent scale and mortgaging of lands at such a large scale one understands why semi-feudalism is still the predominant factor. The struggle reports of the MZAS reflect the complexity of ho w the Adivasis have to be differentiated or demarcated for their distinct characteristics from other strata and their democratic identity given total respect.

However the experience of MZAS proves that the Chinese path cannot be copied in toto with warlords mot existing as in pre-revolutionary China of Imperialism and mechanization not making such a deep penetration.A very subtle aspect is the integration of Adivasi struggles with those of the workers and vice-versa.

Today I feel from around 15 years ago there is relative decline with Maoists taking over or other revolutionary groups. We do not hear about struggle reports with as much intensity of fervour as around 20 years ago when vibrations or impact was made similar to what the Maoists are making today in Dandkaranya.Ofcourse land patta shave been distributed in Padmagiri-Pandripeni areas but there is hardly agrarian penetration in plain regions. In sum there is weakness in giving agrarian revolution, the cutting edge.

I compiled my information from Communist Revolutionary journal “The Comrade”’ and struggle reports on MZAS on Hamco movement in 1997 and ‘Un Defence of Forests.’ In 1996.I also met convenor Biju Upadhaya in  Malkangiri in November 2017 and have been in regular touch .I thank him for a lot of information on recent developments. Although all the zonal conferences have been held a state conference has not been held for a considerable period.

PADMAGIRI-PANDRAPANI STRUGGLE(25TH ANNIVERSARY)

Between 1995 to 1996 a struggle emerged in 2 Panchayats (Panchayats are Village level Councils) Padmagiri and Pandaripani respectively. The struggle dispersed to penetrate a cluster of villages Tulengudu, Kanjoli, Boilapuri, Akur ,Pitang Khodiapodar, Photitang panchayat.

The second was another cluster of villages Rangamatigud,Padarapai.DurmagudamPedakumdu,Matiguda,Gudnad,Manga etc.of the Pandrapani panchayat.Both panchayats belong to the same Malkangiri block of Malkangiri district.In Moupadar,Kotapalli, and Padmagiri Panchayats convoys of 20-30 persons carrying headloads or cycle loads under the menacing supervision of 20-30 armed thugs on either side, was a frequent occurrence. The thugs belonged to a dreaded gang leader G.Subhash Chandra Bose who was engaged in smuggling stones from Orissa to Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.

The Adivasis of these villages mainly belong to the Koya tribe.Over the decade they have been leading a life of utter scarcity with no security of lands they have been cultivating for generations. There has been severe harass ment through panu extractions -The Adivasis who belonged to Villages from these districts had no security of their lands and through Panu were subjected to further ruthless exploitation at the hands of the forest, revenue and Police officials. .His activities were a major thorn on democratic activities of the masses but the Sangh began to challenge his activities through publishing articles.

The Sangh spread to other parts of the district like wilidfire.Successful struggles were launched by Sangh cadre in Moupudar,Kottapalli and Behejaguda .The Sangh now penetrated in some panchayts in this belt. However in other panchayats,diffidence was a predominant feature, before the advent of resistance from November 1995.

In May 1995, the marking of trees was carried out and some trees were felled.Sal, teak, sisu, pipal and other trees were felled which were a major source for the tribals.The felling had been carried out by Chandra Bose with the consent of officials .

Earlier when the tribals tried to procure dry wood or cut trees they were prohibited by officials but now this criminal was given an invitation. The Sangh organized a mass meeting on October 30th 1995 and gave a memorandum to the administration. However it took no action.

In 21st November 1995, the Sangh decided to build mass resistance against the felling of trees, to expose the enemy and to unite the people on their long-term demands. Full-time cadre and leading Sangh cadre were deployed for this purpose.

Between 22nd to 29th November a major programme took place where one team was employed to accost the administration, while a bigger team was employed to mobilize people to entangling into direct action. These 7 days infact not only influenced people of this Struggle Area but provided the base for the emergence of a revolutionary peasant movement under the leadership of the Sangh.

Before leaving for Padmagiri the team questioned the district collector in Malkangiri and demanded to know what the administration was doing in the villages of Padmagiri Panchayat.The collector stated that the felled trees were on the private lands of the Tulenguda Peasants. The team blamed the administration for allowing such large scale destruction of the Adivasi’s forests assets. The team warned the collector of the way the Sangh would retaliate the injustices meted out to them.

The team reached Padmagiri almost covering the whole journey by foot. When they arrived ,the people ,both Bengali and Adivasi were afraid to talk to them. The team marched further covering another 5 to 6 km.,reaching the Adivasi Village Kanjoli.They started raising slogans:Adivasi Sangh Zindabad!Inquilab Zindabad !The forests belong to the Adivasis! We will not allow the transportation of timber!

However only after 45 minutes there was a response. A youth came out and took them to his house. He volunteered to participate in the Sangh struggle against the contractor’s injustice. The youth went on to organise a few more villagers for the task. Ultimately a team was formed that marched to Tulenguda-the felling spot. The members of the team were armed with traditional weapons like Tangias and axes. More people from other villages joined the team.2 Km.from Tulenguda,they heard a truck coming from the distance. To block the truck the people cut trees on either side of the forest road and laid them on the road. A makeshift bridge was broken.

After some time the contractor came to Tulenguda on a motorcycle. The contractor’s truck arrived on the scene the team members gheraoed the truck-blocking the road. A major duel emerged between the Adivasis and the Contractors mercenaries. The contractor’s force of 150 people vastly outnumbered the Adivasis who only had 25 activists. The Sangh leaders explained the Adivasi labour amongst the contractor’s men that the Sangh was fighting for people like them and not the Sahikars,Landlords and the contractors. They were opressed Adivasis and thus the Sangh supported their class interests.

After that explanation a lot of Adivasi labour originally belonging though the contractor were won over by the Sangh.The 3 motor cyclists originally mentioned warned the Sangh that if they did not withdraw their protest they would face dire consequences. One of the motorcyclists happened to be the elder brother of the first Kanjoli youth who volunteered. He explained to his brother how the Sangh was fighting against injustice.

At about 4 a.m a block chairman belonging to the Janata Dal began to condemn the Sangh.The general secretary of the Sangh refuted the derogatory remarks of the leader. The block chairman was forced to retreat and he began to persuade the Sangh to make a peaceful settlement. Finally the contractor arrived making similar gestures. He now pledged to contribute to the Sangh.He said he would now only take the empty truck and not take the timber.

The team replied that the spot-verification should take place as promised by the collector and that before that nothing would pass from there. This raged the contractor who threatened to call the police if his demands were not met. This bold behaviour gave the Sangh great self-confidence and boosted it’s morale. The people gained confidence in the Sangh and had been liberated from their fear complex.

On 23d and 24th November the Sangh spread out it’s programmes. Extended propaganda and mobilisation work was done. The tales of the valiant deeds of the masses was carried to several villages. A collective realisation was instilled in the people who now realised that there was an organisation fighting for them and it was possible for them to organise their own self-defence and struggle for their right through this.The masses started carrying bows and arrows to defend themselves .Hundreds of people, especially from Boilapari, got organised under the leadership of the Sangh by 24th November. A people’s camp was set up to track the enemy’s moves.

The forester of Pandirapani came to the spot and threatened the leaders that he would take action against them for felling the trees. The Additional District magistrate and the Deputy Superintendent of Police came with a team to the previous night’s battlefield. The Sangh combated them verbally replying that why were they talking of just small trees, what about the large plot of the forest that was entirely destroyed.

The officials were forced to examine those areas. People after hearing the heroic deeds of the Sangh people of all nearby villages banded together and discussed the future plans of the enemy. A new realization was installed in the villagers. They now stared carrying bows and arrows. On 24th November a People’s camp was set up in Boilapari to keep watch on the enemy camp and to plunge into action to resist any attack.

On the morning of the 23d the forester of Pandaripani came to the spot and threatened the leaders that he would take action against them for there unlawfully cutting trees. By the afternoon the A.D.M came with a police contingent. The Adivasis replied that why were they talking of these few small trees, what about the large plot of the forest that was destroyed just a little distance away? The Adivasis forced the officials to see the plots and examine the destruction.

On the 22nd the district collector had indicated that the plots of land from the trees from which the trees are cut are not part of a reserve forest, that this150 Acres of land belonged ,since 1982,to 22 Adivasi families of Tulenguda who sold the tress to the contractor; that the contractor had obtained a timber Transport permit through a high Court Order in 1995;that he is legally entitled to take the timber out and that neither the Sangh nor the other people have any right to obstruct it and if they do so, it will become a criminal offence! This answer of the collector was a part of a carefully manipulated fraud which had to be exposed so that people could fight for their legitimate rights .How could the officials be sure that that the felling was limited to the so-called private tenant lands?

The Sangh asserted that whatever the legal position, they would not allow timber transport until a proper verification was done by the collector. The Sangh team was similarly placated when they met the Chief Conservator of forests, however, on the team’s assistance he officially called the D.F.O. and asked him to go and verify the matter .However on meeting the Contractor in Padmagiri the D.F.O totally side with the Contractor and blamed the Sangh for offences, holding the contractor innocent. The Contractor started abusing the team. However that time the district collector arrived along with the president of the Sangh.The Sangh leadership remained firm in a spot enquiry and verification being held.

During the enquiry, the peasants were largely intimidated, being herded in one after the other, and nodding their heads meekly, one by one, stating they were not aware of the contractor. The D.F.O.announced the case as closed. The collector now announced that on law and order grounds he would not allow the transfer of timber. The question pertinently asked by democrats was that if the land really belonged to these 22 peasants of Tulenguda, how is it that nobody Knew it, a and all these people of nearby villages, have been utilizing it as a common forest/They also asked how 10 of these 22 peasants were arrested in 1990 in a “Podu Case” for cultivating the same land which the officials were now claiming to be the private Tenant lands belonging to those very peasants in 1982.

Amazingly, when a team of journalists came to the spot on an invitation of the Sangh and talked to the tenant peasants, the peasants were unaware that a case was not fought on their behalf in the high court nor did they know that a Timber Transfer Certificate was issued in their name. Till recently, they did not know that the land belonged to them nor did they know of any agreement between them and the contractor. Then how did the high court order come about? How was the timber Transfer Permit issued?

The Sangh revealed that the innocence of the Adivasis was exploited and that manipulating the loopholes of the law with the collaboration of officials, the interest of the toiling people was subverted. The vested interests got some patches of forest records as Patta or tenancy lands of a particular Adivasi with the collaboration of the revenue and forest department officials. But even these Adivasis are not informed of this and officials can harass them along with others at least till the time the vested interests decide to use this handiwork.

In this case the crime was started by Ganghadar Madhi,a timber merchant and now a Congress M.L.A.In 1982 he got the said lands of Tulenguda put in the names of those Adivasis,who are Gondia tribals who have migrated to Tulenguda in 1979.In the late 80’s he tried to fell the trees to take the timber out. The D.D.O.did not allow it and he filed a case against it in 1987in Jeypore district Court. It was rejected. In 1994,the present contractor Bose, got the case re-opened, by filing an appeal in the name of the same tenants who were taken to Jeypore,entertained in a lodge and made to put thumb impressions of which they knew nothing.

To combat the enemy used the following methods.

  1. Selective and secretive allotment of land.
    The Sangh leadership raised the demand that the Administration should properly identify and demarcate the government Forest lands and the tenant lands in a transparent and consistent way. The very fact that 22 Gondia peasants of Tulenguda had land recorded as their respective pattas or tenant lands, raised significant questions from the Adivasis.The Adivasis question was why those Tulenguda peasants, who settled there only in1979,were given those lands. If the lands could be given to those who settled there only in 1979 why couldn’t land be given to them?
  2. Issue of possible destruction of forests.

The Sangh raised the demand banning further felling of forests. The concerned authorities of the Sangh had to be informed if a felling was to take place. In the name of forest laws, not only has the government snatched away their traditional Rights, but has been harassing them on every pretext-such as drawing firewood or bamboos for their huts. Their lands were being snatched away in the name of government afforestation Projects. The Sangh insisted that their committee concerned in the particular village had to be contacted before any work took place.

Issue of Contradiction among Adivasis.

The Tulenguda Peasants, besides being under the physical pressure of the Contractor, were also tempted with the prospect of legally owning and more profitably cultivating the lands from the trees felled. Thus they maintained a distance from the Sangh.They had succumbed to the contractor’s pressure.

The Sangh took effective Steps to win over the Tulenguda peasants exposing how they were being cheated by the contractor being paid a mere Rs.200 to 300 per tree. On the 24th November Spot verification the Sangh made these demands for the Tulenguda Peasants. A programme of a militant mass rally was planned. The enemy retaliated, trying to foil the rally. The contractor used his goonda forces to suppress the Sangh activists. The political leader of the Congress,B.J.P and the Janata Dal launched a propaganda campaign that the Sangh leaders were Naxalites.

The people were not intimidated and realized the merit of their organised strength. They rallied in greater numbers with traditional weapons. A sizable section of Bengali Activists attended the rally.
4 Flouting of the Agreement, the Struggle Advances.

On December 13th,when the contractor started felling the trees in Rangamatiguda,the Adivasi villagers opposed it and even resisted it for 2 hours. However they were scared of Gangadhar Burda ,a Congress ex-Chairman. The Adivasi leaders approached the Sangh and led by it organised a 500 strong rally, with traditional weapons in Rangamatuda.However the collector took no action. The contractor also retaliated removing his labour from the region’s he people protested against this and unitedly with the Tulenguda Peasants led a movement.

The Contractor still did not submit and with his labour undertook more fellings.The people now galvanising their entire forces confronted the contractor there too. Either by dodging the people, or evading them wherever possible, the contractor continued executing fresh fellings.

In December 1995, the Sangh leadership with the joint cooperation of other democratic forces, elevated it’s plan to mobilise greater support. In November 1995 in Tulenguda the Adivasi Sangh of the adjoining Koraput district sent their cadre to broaden support to the Adivasi struggle. The democratic personages ,the worker leaders and the Dalito Adivasi Chasi O Mulia Sangh in Navarangpur district not only took steps to mobilise support from there, but also started to directly help the struggle by sending activities in the struggle area. A report on this struggle was prepared and circulated in Oriya.A public interest litigation ,too was sent to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India.The Ganantrik Adhikar Suraksha Sanghatana of Orissa and the Jungle Suraksha Sangharsh Commitee of Malkangiri gave wide publicity to the struggle and also staged a joint press conference in Bhubaneshwar in January 1996.

. Significant advances were made in the creation of a reliable Sangh cadre; the people’s active role in taking decisions, at times taking initiative on their own ;and to the preparedness of implementing their collective will. In Padmagiri itself 6to 8 cadre emerged. In Tulgendu-Kanjoli pocket the Adivasis of all villages unitedly opposed felling of trees. In the second week of December they decided to man 2 or 3 people’s check posts at different entry points in Tulenguda and Padmagiri to prevent the lifting of freshly felled trees by the contractor’s forces.

In Rangamatida-Podarapalli pocket, the development of people’s initiative was even more enthusiastic. In a joint meeting they decided that The remaining forest would be left for the common use for all Adivasis of the Adjacent villages; at any cost the already felled trees will not be given to the contractor at any price; the villagers will raise funds to compensate the concerned tenants for those already felled trees.

The villagers were so implemented that this procedure was implemented that they reacted angrily when they felt there demands were being side-tracked, when the collector was discussing with the team and the contractor about the rate of payment to be made by the contractor, at the time of the spot-verification, the next day. The Adivasis firmly demanded that all irregularities should be opposed and all Adivasis should be properly given Pattas.

Such struggles were significant as they reflected the building of a struggle to a higher level. The fight for partial issues was lifted to the fight for securing basis rights on land and forest-a step that has a very significant role to carry out an agrarian revolution.

All Round Repression and Attacks ,people fight back.

The contractor and his henchman, particularly Ganghadar Burda of the Congress attacked a fact-finding team of the GananatrikAdhikar Suraksha Samiti,a democratic Rights Organisation working in Orissa.Team members were hounded, being abused and threatened in every village they travelled. The officials and police remained passive spectators. They simply refused to give protection to the team.

However the Masses retaliated, assembling in huge numbers, both men and women carrying traditional weapons. At Rangamtida they beat up Congressman Ganghadar Burda along with his followers.Burda had been a key agent of the Contractor. The womenfolk’s gheraoed the collector. In the end it was the Sangh leaders who had to control the fury of the people to save Burda and the collector.

On returning Burda’s gang attacked the team at Pandaripani and beat up the Sangh cadre who attempted to rescue them. The police took the revolutionary mass leaders into custody!-booking them under 7th Criminal Amendment Act 3bof the S.C./S.T.Atrocities Act.

On 17th January the people encircled a police camp blowing Singhas(horns) protesting the arresting of 12 peasants in Kanjoli.They got hold of 10to 12 policeman and locked them up in a room of the Panchayat Office. The collector and the S.P arrived with 3 vanfuls of police force, but dare not came near the Singha blowing Koya people. The collector was ultimately forced to plead with them!

On the 18th January, the Adivasis retaliated when the Contractor’s agents threw boiling oil at them in Padmagiri Bazaar.
On the 19th the Contractor approached the Tulenguda peasants, and gave them their respective pass books, saying that he had deposited Rs 2.60 Lakhs in their names in the bank, which was the price of the earlier felled trees as well as the newly felled trees. On January 20th to 21st he brought 7 trucks and loaded them with the timber. However ,the Adivasis protested encircling the trucks with their traditional arms, pooled dry wood around the tyres of Trucks and warned the Contractor that unless the trucks were unloaded and taken away, they would be burnt. The Contractor agreed and fled.

On January 24th to 25th the people made a route march from Tarlakota Sangh office through Birlakhanpur,Pandarapani,Rangamatiguda and finally to Tulenguda in a show of will and determination to combat the enemy.

The Contractor returned with the trucks and with the collector and this time the leaders of the Sangh were arrested. The Collector approached the Sangh office to agree to a settlement but the Sangh activists refused.Scores of Adivasis were visiting the arrested leaders of the Sangh in Malkangiri jail giving them fruits or flowers.

On January 28th and 29th 2,500 people assembled with traditional weapons demanded the release of important Sangh cadre who were captured after the Contractor had earlier launched an attack on them in Tulenguda.

A captive cadre broke free after a long duel between the enemy and Adivasi camp and the Contractor attacked the people with his hardcore men. The people now retaliated with bows and arrows.The enemy forces now fled into jeeps. The people caught 4or 5 of the Contractor’s men and marched them deep into the jungle in another Panchayat.

The people made the condition that unless the Sangh leaders were release their captives would be held hostage.(Contractor’s men)The Collector now tried to fight for the release of the Contractor’s men.
After rejecting bail for the arrested leaders twice and subjecting them to humiliating handcuffs and public parade, they were released by the Jeypore District Judge.The Contractor attempted to kidnap them at the jail gate but his attempt was foiled because of the prompt work of democratic forces.

Silmuntaneously,in Tulenguda and Rangamattiguda,the people who were blocking transport of the timber now finally decided to seize the timber and disperse it to different places in the forest.

The Vigilance and fighting preparedness of the Sangh was reminiscent of the Chinese Red Army led by Mao. During the entire period of the enemy’s allround attack, while the democratic Revolutionary Mass leaders were imprisoned with the main Sangh functionaries going underground, the awakened people and the Sangh cadre dealt with the enemy on their own initiative, organisational Skills and fighting potential.

The fact that the Adivasis armed themselves with traditional weapons I self –defence and protest ,encircling the police camp ,thwarting the contractors and the henchman from felling trees etc .set a base for major militant armed peasant struggles to occur. It is also the launching pad of creating revolutionary class consciousness of the Adivasis in carrying out an agrarian revolutionary movement, and winning over sections of the peasantry.

On February 2nd 1996,the Sangh leaders were released. The Executive body of the Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh took the following decisions.

  1. The Sangh members will not surrender themselves to the Police
    2. 2.The struggle Areas should be extended through wider mobilization.
    3. There will be a social boycott of those who opposed the Struggle and aligned with the enemy.
    4. Volunteer Squads will be built for the defence of villages upholding the right to hold arms in self-defence.
    5. The message of the Sangh will be spread to the various districts.

Although Struggle wood is the main course, public Interest Litigation would also be resorted to

The Sangh leadership in March -April shimmered the spark of resistance encompassing a wide range of areas. Five Panchayats became an integral part of the struggle. On April 11th a rally of 6000 was held in Moupadar,conducted by the secretary of the Sangh.Thus a major dent was caused or the backbone was struck not only of timber smuggling but of the precious stones from the district.

Struggle against H.A M.C.O

In 1997 the Sangh launched a glorious struggle against the H.A.M.C.O.Project. When H.A.M.C.O.-R.E.M.E would come to know of tin ore and tin concentrate deposits in some private plot of land during their survey, they would go to the landowner and threaten him since there was ore beneath this land, for which tin ore they hold the licence. Official colluded.

The revenue Inspector would accompany the R.E.M.E Official to impress the landowner that it is a government concern and it is a government order. The landowner was further threatened by stating that his patta would be seized if he failed to collaborate. The landowner would sign an agreement in English and the thimb impression of the Adivasi would be taken. In the thickness of the forest and the darkness of the night  these impressions would be taken.

The Adivasi would go back home with the cash and the same night some policeman would come to him, enter his house forcibly and demand the cash. The Adivas would be threatened with the condition, that unless he handed them the amount, he would be interned for Smuggling Ores. From his own land! Then they would walk out with the loot .Any protesting tribal would be arrested by the police..

Peasants got nothing for Dakhali jungle category land. Mining operations, along with illegal and backdoor land acquisition for the purpose was going on in 7 Panchayats.

An Investigation and rally was organized.H.A.M.C.O.Company with theR.E.M.E,WITH THE HELP OF THE Revenue Inspector of Salmi spread the rumour that they had acquired tribal land from the ORISSA Govt. and that the occupants must therefore vacate the land. For a few cases of dakhali anabadi land,they gave Rs .500 Each However many peasants were denied anything.

The Sangh made heroic attempts to combat the mining operations of H.A.M.C.O. On 17th April 1997 at the Mundaguda rally the Sangh announced it’s agitational programme to prevent the mining and transport operation in totality also declared that peasants should occupy all lost land and cultivate it in the next agricultural season.A high judicial inquiry was also raised. On one landowner Aita Kunjami’s land on April 18th the Adivasis of the area stopped the mining operations. On April19th however the R.E.M.E reverted to work with the help of security forces.

The Adivasis retaliated on 20th April.20,000 Adivasis thronged with their bows, arrows and Tangias.The manger of the R.E.M.E.fired on the people and his security forces followed. Heroically the people defended themselves with traditional weapons. The staff and security men fled to their camps.The Sangh organized a protest meeting and arran ged for 24 hours surveiilance at the mining spot. A delegation was sent to strengthen and guard the area.Between 25th and 27th April 3 gates were made between 3 different points Kamarpalli,Maupadar and Durmaguda.In all these 3 villages committees were formed to guard the gates for 24 hours a day to block all vehicles on routes.

On 29th April,a delegation of the Sangh under the leadership of  it’s advisor,Jidishtir Goud,met the district collector and demanded an immediate inquiry into the firing incident.A demand was made stopping the transportation of Ores.However,counter to their promise on May Dayat Korkunda the Mathili police along with the R.E.M.E official s blocked the gates and participated in a garand feas in Mundaguda Camp. The Same night, when on returning from the rally by truck the activists reconstructed new gates and guarded them. The next day the police retaliated by breaking the gates, dragging the guards of the Sangh,beating them up and taking theminto Police Custody.

When the Issue was taken up by the S.P Malkangiri,his explanation was that it was as much a violation of law to build gates on any road as it is to transport ores.His condition was that if the people want to stop transportation of ores they should lie down before t6he vehicles and inform the police .On 4th May the Sangh gheraoed the Maupadar police outpost till the evening. Only when the police promised to vacate the outpost and begged pardon, and when information from the Sangh also reached there about the release of arrested activists, the Adivasis released the policeman. The people locked up the police outpost. When the information of the Gherao reached Salmi outpost all the policeman fled after locking the place.

After the closure of 2 local police outposts, the local smugglers became very active One Smuggler who was working as an agent of R.E.M.E. AS WELL AS FOR Madhya Pradesh based tin smugglers  was brutally punished by the people.In the 2nd week of May, when the S.P. and Collector of Malkangiri came to the village women activists blocked their vehicles at the Kamarplai gate.In June the H.A.M.C.O ATTEMPTED TO START PLANT CONSTRUCTION WORK.This was vociferously resisted by the people who obstructed all site work.T

he Sangh discovered at this point that out of fright local smugglers posed themselves as well wishers of the movement, and on the other hand tried to convince the local people that since the ores are found in their land and since both earlier the Orissa mining Corporation and Madhya Pradesh Mining Corporation were purchasing the ore from them legally, there is nothing illegal to mine the ore and sell it to the smugglers.

They won over a section of people through this .Smelting Activities increased in the local backyard Chullhs,and so did the smuggling activities.

On July 18th the Sangh broke 7 Chullahs at Gudguda,Mundbahal,Bedurpali,Siarkal and Talguda.People asked question son the legitimacy of the action against the Chullahs as well as the sale of ores by smugglers which provided economic help to the poor.The Police exploited this occasion by persuading the Adivasis on the benefits  of the Chullahs and selling of the ores.They opened 2 outposts.2 Platoons of the Orisa Special Armed police were deployed.

T he Sangh now prepared a charter of demands which was served to the director of the R.E.M .E on August 15th.A central mobile camp was organized to co-ordinate movement activities and to consolidate the organization by combating  the false propoganda of the Enemy camp.

The Sangh explained that what was happening in the Sabari valley was essentially an application of the Government’s New Economic Policy and the liberalization policies. The Exploitation and large-scale smuggling of tin ores and the simultaneous  repression of Adivasis utilizes the fact that the majority of Adivasis have been denied legal documents. About their titles to the land. The ways the land was snatched by them from thr money lenders ,Industrialists, bureaucrats Etc.was narrated.

The Adivasis attempts at thwarting the H.A.M.C.O.Corporate body was like an elephant combating a lion.It demonstrated that how a big corporate giant blessed by Imperialist forces can be thwarted by the might of the people.

Nowrangpur Zilla Dalit Adivasi Sangh(20th formation anniversary)

In January 1995 the Nowrangpur Zilla Dalit Adivasi SAngh and Muliah Sangh was organized as a sister organisation of the Sangh.The main cadres of this organization were drawn from the Gana Sangharsh Samiti against the Indravati dam project.

Within the first year of formation the Sangh took up the issue of land and jungle, mainly of Tentuli Khunti block and spread to Dabugan and Jharigan block.The Sangh succesfuly fought against the capturing of 500 acres of land seized from the Adivasis from the soil conservation department. The Sangh occupied he land through mass ploughing. The next year the Sangh re-captured 2000 acres of land from the forest and soil conservation departments. They also fought the money-lenders. The same organization played a role in the struggle of the Malkangiri Adivasis against the timber mafia.

In Chuinmatiguda in June 1996,4 peasants ‘s land was snatched by a landlord in Dabrimunda illage.50 acres of land was stolen.The Sangh investigated that the culprit, a landlord called Bhagahban Gouida had 200 acres of land I 4 villages.

The Sangh organized  an occupation of 8 acres of land originally belonging to the peasant Banabasi Saanha.(in the property records)On November 12 th 1996.The landlord Bhaghaban Gouda’s sons came to re-plough the land,destroying the sprouts. The rightful peasant and his father Kusuma launched a complaint about this at Jahrigan police station.

On November 12 th 1996 ,when the paddy crop was not yet ripe ,the landlord and his son started cutting the green crop. When the peasant and his brothers tried to stop them,t hey attacked the peasants family with arrange o weapons like sickle,axe.The peasants Saanta,Bananbasi ad Pitabasa were injure and wee rushed to hospital. In response 50 people were mobilized by he Sangh. They cut and harvested he crop. A part of the harvested crp was awarded to the family, while the rest was distributed amongst the people..The police intervened,seizing 2 bags of paddy

The same was repeated in 1997.This time the Sangh mobilized 2000 people to harvest the crop. This time the landlord Bhgaban Gouda and his family members along with some goondas attacked the peasants with guns anmd tangias.The Sangh made  a large mobilization organized with lathis,tangias,batali and stiones. They gave a befitting reply to the enemy camp. The Sangh activist grabbed the harvest and distributed it  amongst the people.

3 days after the incident the police from Jharpada police station came in full strength and launched af ull-scale attack in Chuilnmatagada and Satighat Guda.25 peole were arrested,women molested,.In police custody the arrested were treated like animals,being kept I custody for 60 hours.

11 days later a protest as organized against police excesses and illegal detentions. They asked “Why did you destroy  and loot our property”, “Why did you molest our women?” “Why did you detain our people for more than 60 hours?” “Why did you not give food o the arrested people?”The O.I.C.panicked witnessing the fury of he people.After 2 hours of the siege the police tried to arrest the vice-president Ananda Garada.The peole [protested like a raging torrent.The administration resorted to lathi-charge and arrested 15 activists.The administration tried every way possible to suppress the organization. Bail was not granted to arrested activists for 45 days.

Heroically the Sangh produced a joint leaflet with the Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh. Their policies towards chidni and other forms of usury were declared .A struggle was also waged in Dandasara Vilage of Hirapur Gram Panchayat.Contractors were gheraoed for not paying minimum wages.Cycle marches were undertaken fro village to village boosting the morale of the people .

The Nowranpur Sangh prepared to fight for the following demands.

  1. All the excess land of Bhabagan Gouda should be seized and distributed amongst the landless peasants
  2. Action should be taken against police excesses.
  3. False cases foisted o Sangh activists should be withdrawn.
  4. All cycles seized  at the Jharigan rally should be returned.
  5. The poor peasants of Chuinmatiguda,Satighat Guda and Chacha must be returned their lands.
  6. rights of dalits and tribalsshould be recognized.
  7. All land illegally transferred to non-tribals should be returned to the original tenants.

The Struggle of Adivasis to protect their bamboo Rights.(20th anniversary)

TheAdivasis struggle for their rights over bamboo resources is part of the overall stamping of their collective rights over land, forests, and natural assets of the region.There  is a link with the bamboo struggle and the earlier struggles in Padmagiri-Pandripeni struggle against the combine of forest contractors,politicians nad administration and the struggle against HAMCOS arbitrary mining.

The latest Bamboo struggle has  aroused great interest and debate among Adivasi masses,and increased the scope  for deepening the political consciousness  and organisation of the Adivasis and other forest dwellers in Malkangiri.he Compradors and the authorities depict the plunder of bamboo resources as an inevitable price of devekopment but it is actually only the price of comprador feudal development.

Ther is no inherent contradiction between  paper production  and the rights of Adivasis.It is possible to use bamboo as a raw material  for paper without infringing the adivasis rights over bamboo,and without depleting the precious resource.

Bamboo is a means of production for the Adivasis.They use it’s shoots as food for at least 4 months of the year. Craftsmen among Adivasis and Dalits make household items as well as various articles from bamboo, and earn their livelihood.Adivasis also use it for a large range of articles needed for cultivation, house building fencing, fishing and hunting They also procure the use of bamboo for purposes like musical instruments

Sewa Paper Mill,a unit of Ballarpur Industries of the Thapar Group,had been unscrupulously cutting bamboo Illegally through forming N.G.O’s  it illegally seized large chunks of land. There is no law allowing non-tribals to buy or lease out non tribal land for commercial purposes. The company appointed agents in the villages to protect their interests.

With each such peasant it has made an agreement, the copy of which is not given to the peasant. He is promised a big amount of money at the end of every agricultural season, and the price of tress at the end of 7 years. All these agreements were found to be false when examined by the Sangh.

When 3 villages under Boipaniguda block of Koraput district raised this question and served their charter of demands to the authotities of the mill the latter lodged many false police cases in hand with the police and made false arrests. The Thapar Group’s Intention was to loot the bamboo from the forests and carry out commercial plantation. However they opposed running a full scale paper factory. Instead they would make pulp to feed their paper factories elsewhere.

In December 1999 the people of Gonguda, Korkonda,Potrel, Tarlakota Somnathpur,Kambeda, Mariwada Beijing wada, Chitrkonda, Bapdadar, Paparmetla and Ralegada joined the people of the 2 Panchayats in Malkangiri preventing the felling of bamboo.Defence barricades were built by people at certain places like Tekpadar of Badpadar Panchyat and Kunigada of Ralegada Panchayat to prevent the entry and departure of bamboo trucks.6 KM.away there was also a movement to stop timber cutting.Sangh Activists seized timber. However the forest officials came down to argue that timber is required for building of the Rath.

The Sangh members initially saw bamboo cutting as a source of employment for a large number of Adivasis.Struggles related to bamboo focused on better wages for bamboo cutting labour.However after increased awareness of the Adivasis over their collective Rights over Forest Produce, struggles to combat bamboo cutting started. In Tapu Sangh members saw bamboo cutting as a source of employment for a number of Adivasis.Struggles relating to bamboo focused on better wages for bamboo-cutting labour However the Sangh’s movement against timber cutting and the adivasi’s growing awareness of their collective rights over all forest produce paved the way for major struggles preventing bamboo cutting

After the third conference of the Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh the struggles were intensified. A huge consolidation period had been launched by the Sangh in September 1999 during the Elections where 14 teams of the Sangh were engaged in covering organization pockets. In this consolidation period the bamboo issue was discussed .

Planning was done by the three Panchayat committees. A struggle committee was formed. In another pocket in Mariwada a struggle was launched over Adivasis right over timber. When it started it was planned to extend the Struggle to another pocket between Malkangiri and the Sangh office known as D Zone, which runs for about 30 Km. Over 6 Panchayats

.During 1997-98 the D zone had taken up the movement successfully under the Sangh’s leadership The people in that area reported to the Sangh that the bamboo was flowering.Sewa Paper mill was told to take away these flowering bamboos, which were otherwise useless. However,Sewa cut much of the good bamboo.

In 1999,they were stopped from doing this.So,with this previous experience, and extension to the d Zone was a must. After being informed of the Sangh’s agitational plan, the Panchayat Committee leaders as well as the people of the area assured the president of the Sangh that they would continue the Struggle and keep on informing the Sangh about their day to day activities.

A barricade was staged to block vehicles of the paper mill. It was reminiscent of a wall constructed by people to combat the enemy’s moves. This barricade was guarded day and night by 50 to 1000 people from different villages. The struggle committees decided the method of guarding.

At Tentuliguda village he Sangh’s views on timber and bamboo were projected.1,000 people attended the meeting. A charter of demands served to the government and to the paper company were read out. Leaflets published for the bamboo and timber movements were also explained.

When the struggle against bamboo in Tapu began in 1999 the Sewa paper mill officials came to the Sangh officer regularly hoping for a compromise. They explained that they took bamboos from Malkangiri on behalf of the forest department and the Orissa Forest development Corporation and gave employment to about 25,000 workers over the course of the year, and increased the workers wages from Rs 45 to 50per day, the rate for carrying bundles of bamboo for 100 metres had been increased from Rs 47 to Rs.57,and the cutting charges from Rs.4.70 to Rs.5.15T

They went on to explain that they had done nothing against the Adivasis setting,(Whatever claims you have against the Government, fight against them. Because of your Stoppage of work, hundreds of coolies are leaving their villages and going to distant destinations to work as dadan labourers.So the work must be re-started immediately. The Sangh leaders reiterated these facts stating that they were false. The Sangh claimed that the authorities had not only taken away the flowering bamboo but had cut all the good bamboo was well. Later, the Sewa authorities admitted their errors. By Mid 1999 a major protracted Struggle was waged.

The robbing of bamboo affects the Adivasis life at every juncture and from many angles. For example,after marriage,a newly wed Adivasi couple is expected immediately to live separately from parents, and build a separate house with easily available housing materials such as bamboo,grass,wood and earth. But now because of the unavailability of bamboo young Adivasi couples are forced to stay with their parents, which affects their family life, especially the girl’s freedom.As the Adivasi girl is new to the art of adjustment with the other members of the boy’s family cases of marriages breaking up are frequent.

Another impact of bamboo scarcity is that the Adivasi hunter  does not obtain from the bushes the exact amount of bamboo he requires for his musical instrument. Intense competition now prevails for whatever little bamboo remains in the forest ,with frequent inter-village disputes.To gather bamboo from far off forests, adivasi youths have to labour for three days, which mean sloss of three days wages.

Sewa Paper mill of Thapar group has been ruthlessly cutting bamboo from erstwhile Koraput district for 2 decades, with the perspective of looting wealth. Instead of producing  paper in Koraput from all the bamboo collected ,it produces only pulp from 90 % of the bamboo and sends the pulp to Ballarpur.Thus all paper produced by Sewa in Koraput is only to hoodwink the people of Orissa and it’s employees.It has also formed soneNGO’S which have been deployed as a channel to capture large chunks  of Adivasi land illegally. The company has deployed agents in the villages to protect its interest because there was a clear cut law that no non-tribal can buy or lase out adivasi land for Commercial purposes.With each such peasnt it has mad an agreement, the copy of which  Is not given to the peasant. He is promised a big amount of money at the end of every season.  Howevever the promises were broken .When three villages under Boipaniguda block of Koraput district  raised this question to the authorities of the mill, the latter framed the adivasis with false charges in connivance with the Boipaniguda police station officers.

Thus on the one hand the Thapar group loots bamboo from all forests, grabs Adivasi lands and undertakes commercial plantation on them.On the other hand it does not intend to run a full scale company  ,but in manufacturing pulp to feed their paper factories elsewhere.When the bamboo in these forests is finished ,they will close SEwa Paper Mill and desert the aerea ,just as Hamco did.

The Sangh had decided not to create antagonism with local tradesmen  who would cooperate with the Sangh’s programmes. Fascinatingly the erstwhile Peoples War Group  argued on the lines of the Swa Paper Mills Officials argument .

A public debate ensued everywhere with the people asking “Why has no government agency or paper mill taken up bamboo plantation work according to law? Were Adivasis ever consulted while leasing out bamboo to the companies? Should the government not leave some bamboo jungles intact from the start itself? Is not the right of the Adivasis over forest produce primary, because of their dependence on them? What right does the government have to hand over all this to the private houses, depriving million sof their basic rights? Now all these questions are being actively discussed among the people.

Because of the impending state election s the government kept silent. The Sang h presented a charter of demands.Thy depicted the dependence of the tribals on bamboo for their food ,for self-employment, for an unimaginably large range of materials  needed for cultivation,house-building,fencing,f ishing and hunting and for miscellaneous purposes like musical instruments,medicines,pooj anad parab.

The Adivasis controlled the gates and allowed no entry of the authorities. A memorandum was offered to the Government stating.

1 Bamboo should be listed as a minor forest produce by the govt.,the tribal’s right over it should be legally recognized.
2.The govt must initiate an inquiry into how much bamboo has been really cut, investigating the true nature of the reckless bamboo cutting.
3.Till the survey was completed bamboo cutting should be banned.
4.The Owners of Sewa Paper Mill should be prosecuted as they failed to abide by the rules.
5.The Sewa Paper mill must carry out bamboo plantation in twice the area as they cut the bushes.
6.All workers of the mill who died in accidents must be compensated. Many accident affected Adivasi Worker were not awarded compensation.
The heroic Adivasis paralysed all bamboo cutti

   Election Campaign

In the 13th Parliamentary Elections the Sangh gave a classical l attempt at carrying out the mass line. The Executive committee of the Sangh planned to concentrate it’s election propaganda in the selected belts of the mass organization rather than carrying out an extensive campaign throughout the mass organisation’s influence and work. The organization was divided into propaganda  teams which would be sent through different pockets to organize mass meetings and suitable gatherings. The mass organisation’s leaflet was prepared by the main leadership of the Sangh.However it was first thoroughly discussed in the steering committee and the draft was later improved after taking into consideration suggestions.An extended meeting of mass activists were organized on the election Issue.12 teams were appointed comprising 2 to 7 activist. Most of the teams concentrated in the Central Zone and the H.A.M.C.O.Zone2 Teams campaigned in the ChitraKonda Tapu area while one team went to the Tendki-Challanguda area for campaigning.

The Sangh meetings were well attended, at places in hundreds. The TRIBAL PEOPLE PARTICIPATED IN DISCUSSIONS,RAISED QUESTIONSIN RELATIONSHIP TO THEIR DAY TO DAY ISSUES. The people invited the Sangh to form bodies in their respective areas. The most discussed topic was that of lad and forest. The gains achieved under the leadership of the Sangh were explained in contrast to the promises of the leaders.

The tribals expressed their disillusionment with the leaders and on their own thinking promised to not participate in the elections.Sangh leaders displayed creativeness in their organizational skills. With regards to an issue in Moupadar Panchayat the Sangh team opted for a gathering to resolve the issue.

The Sangh leaders argued that the tribal was not a political thief and fined him only Rs 100 and got an apology from him, the people retorted that the police wouldn’t let him go without fining a minimum of Rs 5000 Through this Incident the Sangh leaders explained the distinction between contradictions among the people and the contradiction between the enemy and the people.-the exploitation and oppression of the tribals at the hands of the police, authorities and exploiting classes. Highly impressed the tribal people gage at least 17 concrete examples of such police exactions.

At One place an all Woman Sangh team posed as a Congressman who wanted to buy the people’s votes. The Tribals, identifying with the Sangh demanded land and ordered them to get out. Only when the team disclosed their identity did the people warmly receive them. Using the occasion ,the Sangh explained the significance of land and the way to acquire It.-as a method of solving various other problems of people. In another village where forest Committees were grabbing people’s lands, the Sangh team offered Rs.2,000 Per acre  for land and demanded offers for sale of land. One person agreed to sell hislandThe people in the gathering argued with this person, asking how he could think of selling his landing the course of the discussion, the Sangh team revealed their identity and laid bare the govt tricks to create disunity amongst tribal people and garb their lands

In some villages the people combated the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders. The leaders were questioned and the tribals stated that they would alternatively vote for their own axes, the handle of the plough, or land Etc.In an isolated mountainous village which the Sangh had never visited before, the people warmly received them and explained how they had heard of the Sangh’s  struggles. They narrated that they were searching for the Sangh for a considerable period of time. They narrated the futility of elections. Their houses had been totally drenched in the monsoon due to poor roofing. One tribal told the team “Do you no why my loincloth is so dirty? Because I do not have a second one.”

The Sangh teams explained the real political alternative, the need of organization and Struggle and the importance of land and forest Issue The people were involved in lively discussions and related the politics to their day to day issues. The Sangh team was not able to convince the people that they should boycott the polls. However they assertively put their stand that they were for organization and Struggle, and that it was upto the people to decide whether to participate or not to participate in the election. In one area the Sangh emerged as a parallel Institution. A clear polarization took place between the pro Sangh and anti Sangh forces .Like a torrent overflowing a spontaneous poll boycott  took place in the tribal villages where the people swept the villages.

Overall the Election campaign was a great success. New Units of the Sangh were created. Existing Units were consolidated and the organizational and political Consciousness of tribal was raised.5 points were worth noting.

1.Discussion meetings were much more effective than rallies. They help more in understanding the people and their problems and in communicating the Sangh politics.
2.Struggles and campaigns of local issues would be of great assistance in consolidating the Sangh.
3.Need of regular Interaction of Sangh Units
4.The Tribal people everywhere displayed their strong urge for organization and Struggle. The Enemies offensive has stepped up. An Effective mechanism for struggle and self –defence is the immediate need.
5.The Activists need to develop a propaganda method redressing the people’s grievances. In the course of political campaigns, they would only listen to the campaigners when their grievances were adhered to. Stereotyped methods of propaganda need to be replaced by a more creative variety compatible with the understanding of the Adivasis which would spiritually elevate them.

Another Remarkable aspect of the Sangh’s functioning was it’s methods employed for selecting areas of consolidation. Certain Small Pockets were chosen and cadre were deployed in those places. The leadership ensured that the selected areas were accessible transportwise.I n this way the cadres could conveniently relate their experiences and communicate to each other. In this way 3 small pockets within a stone throw of each other were selected.

The Forest Corporation, Forest Department and timber Mafia were cutting reserve forest trees. Their excuse was that it’s purpose was to provide housing material for the Cyclone affected. The people protested only when the mafia began cutting in large quantities, with mechanized Saws. Instead of cutting 19 trees which the forest department had given permission ,the Corporation cut off 600 trees. The Sangh exposed this to the people.

All the Adivasis were mobilized and the Sangh opened up a camp at the site of the cutting. Day and Night guarding was deployed. This movement enabled the guilty forest officials, guilty conservators, and Corporation officials to be prosecuted hey were suspended or transferred. I n the Panchayat where the people had lost land to the Balimela dam the Forest department began grabbing land for plantation. The Sangh uprooted the plantation.
The Sangh felt it was the need of the hour to consolidate. The Sangh’s view was that local activist’s local activists should be given the role of running the Sangh and conducting protests. That are had witnessed bamboo and timber Struggles in recent times. The favourable factors were

1.The Militancy of the Dodois ,the militant tribe there
2.The Sangh’s old ties with the people of the region, thus the trust people had in them.
3.The asset of the Workers of the nearby Chitrkonda area, under a democratic workers organization, could be a reliable ally.
4.Political Consciousness in that Region.
5.it‘s being a key area in any future Struggle on the bamboo question.

The Sangh now developed a new style of work. Now 2to 2 full time cadre were attached to each selected Panchayat.They were to me mainly responsible for the Panchayat and would remain there, living with the people depending on them for upkeep. Co-ordination between different teams was organized. Classes of advanced Elements, some public programmes, youth meetings were held. The People were explained the de-centralization motives of such programmes. In this way the old local leadership of the Sangh was replaced. It Bamboo is a means of production for the Adivasis.They use it’s shoots as food for at least 4 months of the year.

Craftsmen among Adivasis and Dalits make household items as well as various articles from bamboo, and earn their livelihood.Adivasis also use it for a large range of articles needed for cultivation, house building, fencing, fishing and hunting They also procure the use of bamboo for purposes like musical instruments, medicines, pooja and Parab.

In March 2000, in the period just after the conclusion of the bamboo struggle the general election came. In this period the Sangh made an assessment of its organizational weaknesses .In its review it concluded that the organisation is not sufficiently penetrated in the masses. At the local level, the vocal sections of people capture the positions. A considerable section is trapped by the lure of inducements. This trend was testified in the Bamboo struggle.

The earlier form of forming the Sangh was in a particular area -calling a meeting-explaining the Sangh stance of an earlier organisation-was adjudged as inadequate. It leads to lack of consolidation when all cadres of the Sangh concentrate in one area. Now taking account of the strength of the cadre areas were chosen. It was allocated in such a way that cadres could assist comrades coming from other areas. In this manner three small pockets within walking distance of each other were chosen. The reason for choosing this area was the starting of a Timber struggle The issue was that the forest corporation, forest department and mafia were cutting the reserve forest. The administration made an excuse of providing housing for the cyclone affected The people opposed it only when the mafia began cutting in large quantities.

Investigation revealed that the Forest department had granted permission to the corporation to cut only 19 salvaged trees. Instead 100 trees were cut .The MZAS came out with many an exposure programme among the local people of Nakamamadi panchayat ,who are out of the Didoi tribe.The Sangh mobilised the Adivasis and opened a branch at the side of the cutting. a day and night vigil was organised.

This resistance acted on the govt. Whereby all forest official involved were found guilty, and as a result transferred or punished. It provoked the govt.to plant trees on a large scale.

The Sangh now decided to consolidate activists in the area  to build a new, young leadership. In it’s view some areas should be made self-reliant from below from the purpose of the movement. This would enable local activists to run the Sangh and launch agitations. This area was natural choice as 1.There was militancy of the Didois,in that area.

2.The Sangh connection was very old ,and thus people had confidence in the Sangh.

3, Connection with the Chitrokonda area  workers nearby under a democratic workers organisation could exist.

4.This area has been posed to various types of left politics and thus has a certain level of political consciousness.5.It is a key area in any future struggle on this question.

Tribal peasants major victory over  a powerful pipeline Company.

The Corrupt Bhartiya Janata Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party govt of Orissa enters into shadowy deals with big comprador companies and is on a spree of signing memoranda of Understanding with various Industrial houses. It has recently abridged its industrial Policy resolution to suit the big capitalists. It has committed 150 million tones of bauxite resources to Vedanta Alumina of the Sterlite Group.for establishing an alumina palnt in Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district.It also entered into an accord with the Utkal Alumina of the Birla Group for launching an alumina plant at Kashipur in Rayagada district,in collaboration with Alca of Canada.

In all such deals, huge grafts are taken by rulers and in turn undue favouritism and concessions are showered on industrialists to the detriment of people’s interests.

After a 5 month struggle The Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh won an important victory against a powerful pipeline company ofa big corporate house.

Essar Sttels Ltd,has been laying an underground steel pipeline to pump its iron ore in slurry form from its captive iron ore mines in Bailadilla in Chhattisgarh state to it’s iron plant at Vishakapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.So far,the iron ore transportation was being made through railway rakes. But in view of the heavy demand for Iron ore in the world market particularly innthe Bailadilla ore the company is expanding the capacity of its palnt to three million metric tones per anum.This expansionism being undertaken in technical collaboration with Lurgi Gmbh of Germany.

The steel ministry of the Cental Govt.on Septemvber 30th ,1997,issued a public notification for acquiring lands to stay above the pipeline,in the name of interest.As per the rules ,it is the statutory obligation of the govt.to ensure a detailed coimmunication of such notification ina suitable manner to the concerned peole whose lands are meant to be taken.

The people however remained in total darknessabout the project.On February 22nd 2000 ,the govt,through a gazette notification transferred the right of use of he notified lands to Essar Steels Ltd.Whenever the representatives tried to enquire from the district authorities,thet flatly denied having any knowledge of it.

The actual pipe line laying work came to the notice of the Sangh fot the first time during it’szonal committee meeting held on May23rd 2004,at Chitrakonda.A fact-finding team was sent to investigate.

The fact-fiding team noted that the Adivasi peasants  were being given a paltry compensation amounts of the order of Rs 11,25,42,etc to secure their thumb impressions on certain papers.The poverty-stricken Adivasi people ,unused to financial dealings and unable to read ,were accepting without questioning whatever was given to them.It was noted that a large number of peasants were actually being denied any compensation for their lands taken over by the company.

The company was paying land compensation at the rate of a mere Rs.1500 per acre.The forest law bans any cutting or felling of trees in the rainy season,but the company was recklessly felling trees and the forest dpt.wasa mere spectator. The pipeline company gave no compensation for a variety of felled trees.

The Sangh now planned to undertake a sustained campaign but organizing the affected peasants against the injustice on the Adivasi people. It was decided to organize peasant resistance against the company. There were 3 major risks in undertaking this task. The first was that the tribal peasants ,who lacked experience in matters of deception and loot, were mostly unable  to interpret the fraud being played by them on the company. They were happily accepting what was given to them.Secondly,only a small section of peasants were directly affected by the pipeline work. Thirdly, under the pretext of surpressing the Naxalites the police spread a reign of terror, and thus people were scared to participate in agitational activity. Fourthly, because of the money ,muscle power and political influence of the company, and it’s corrupt coercive and terrorizing  tactics, the tas kof resistance was made more arduous. Finally,t he shortage of adequate information related with the pipeline work and the company alos made the task more difficult.

In the first phase of the Struggle ground-level mass propaganda and encouraging the masses against the company took place. Written and ora lpropoganda were conducted on the selling of mineral wealth and other public resources to native,f oreign big companies at throway prices Etc.

A delegatio of the Sanghwent on June 7tto meet the district collector. The official behaved like a company executive and spoke in an aggressive tone tha the pipeline would be laid at any cost .The official revealed that six villages under Badapadar panchyat were still resisting the laying of the pipeline and not accepting compensation.

The next day promptly the Sangh sent a team to those villages On June 12th a road blockade was unleashed in Lamba Singa village threatening the movement of the company’S WORK-SITES prior to the visit of the A.D.M..The A.D.M.’S meeting was thwarted by the Sangh activists by organizing a peasant mass meeting and dispersing it before the A.D.M’s visit after passing a resolution to continue the struggle against the company till the demands are conceded..The A.D.M sent a land Officer.

After the visit of the land officer the tribals began to loe enthusiasm and the company struck back by giving a job to the local tribal ctivist active in the road blockade. However though the blockade was lifted after a week it left a vey encouraging feeling on the tribal peasnts and activists in adjoining areas.

On the day of the routine zonal meeting of the Sangh at Chitrakonda on June 23rd, nearly 150 militant tribals assembled. In the meeting,some tribals told the meeting about three heavy machines would be deployed for taking up some major work over the Sileru River.

The meeting resolved to Gherao these machines and resist their deployment till the peasant demands are met .After the conclusion of the meeting, nearly the entire gathering, after walking for many hours,reached the company’s camp and began a gherao of machines .The speakers warned the company yofficialis not to deploy these machines till a settlement with the struggling peasants is reached. Demanding the removal of machines,the speakers made it amply clear that the Sangh would be responsible if the enraged people inflicted damage on the machines.

Sensing the rage of the tribals the company officials claimed that they would return 2 machines to Chirakonda base camp. The tribal activists gained a victory and their morale was boosted.

Now daily the tribals plunged into agitational activity. A mass rally against the Company on June 26th at village R.S.C –10 gained a huge response. Almost a thousand Adivasis from neighbouring villages like Paliguda,Rathaguda,Katanipadar,Kamladapar,Purunapani Etc marched into the rally.Militant speeches were made.

The increasing revolt of the tribals against the company and repeated work-closures made the company bow down and make some degree of compromise.he company henchman forced a Sangh functionary to negotiate.The functionary stood his ground and refused to negotiate.Later,he was dropped at the Sangh office by th company people.The next day, an angryverbal duel took place with the company Dalaala who came to prevail upon the Sangh to lift the work blockade imposed on the company.Only when the senior officials of the company visited the office,was the Sangh neutralized and calmed down.

However the company tried it’ s best to continue the work of the pipeline It tried to buy over the local Adivasi leaders leading the peasant resistance and attempted to terrorise the masses by recruiting local goondas and deploying them for spreading terror. As the company was acquiring peasant lands permanently but for transient use,the Sangh decided in favour of negotiating and invited the company and district administration for negotiation on August 20th.

In the 2nd phase of the struggle there was a sharpened bout of militancy. From mid-June to mid-August,a sort of hide and seek continued between the company and the struggling peasants. Sometimes the struggling peasant surged ahead and carried out total work stoppage on the company. At other times ,when the struggle activity receded a bit, the agitators relaxed the company would promptly resume work.

The district administration was not reconciled to the idea of negotiating wit the Sangh It prevailed upon the company to double the land compensation, and fixed August 20th and 21st as dates for compensation distribution ,to foil the Sangh effort.

In view of this arrogant behaviour the Sangh gave a call for Boycott of the administration sponsored compensation –distribution function. The Sangh opened a day and night camp in the struggle are in the vicinity of the company’s worksite.

2 days later, it started a blockade and the movement of company vehicles was stopped. Hundreds of slogan shouting tribals daily marched through different villages from one camp to another Sangh banners and flags were planted at all company vehicles and machines.The work closures wee costing he company several lakhs a day. The company had rented very costly machinery to engage I some operations across the Sileru river,but ot could not be deployed for over 2 months due to the upsurge of the tribals.The company was thus suffering huge losses he company was eager to hike compensation many-fold.

In the meanwhile,a contingent of Adivasi fighters armed with traditional weapons caught red-handed a high-ranking company officials erectly distributing enhanced land compensation .A tangia was thrust on the neck by the angry tribal people.

During the peak of the rainy season in Malkangiri the desperate company executives tried to seize the opportunity to enhance the pipeline work in a stealthy way. However a large group of tribal people, armed with weapons all of a sudden pounced on the company camp on September 7th and caught red-handed nearly 15 people engaged in pipeline work in clar violation of their resolution not to resume work till a negotiated settlement.All,of them, were captured by he Sangh and arrested till the company higher-ups arrived.

The company now tried to build a dispute among the struggling tribal people.Utilising some erstwhile mass activists, bought over to it’s sidethe company tried to lure the tribal masses of 4 villages on the river bank,by offering them increased land compensation at a rate of Rs.35,000 per acre.

The Sangh leadership foresaw the move on the part of the company to promote disunity among the struggling sections of the tribal people. If the Sangh disputed the  Agreement, it would have hurt the ego of the leaders of those villages and turned them antagonistically towards the Sangh.Had the Sangh upheld the agreement, it would have led the company to resume work to the detriment of the welfare of the struggling people. Either way, there was danger  of peoples Unity breaking .To tackle the sensitive situation, the Sangh mobilized the people of the area around these villages and concentrated protest demonstrations against the company in these villages, thus indirectly pressurizing the said villages.

On September 12th, the Sangh leaders held a meeting of nearly 200 activists and militants in the Sangh camp, where the above issue was thoroughly discussed. It was decided to hold a militant mass demonstration from the camp to Oringi Ghat and Tatmanguda.On September 17th, hundreds of armed adivasi peasants, storming with rage in their hearts, and vociferously shouting slogans assembled at Tatmanguda.The local agents of the company were so fear-striken, from the outrage of the masses, fled their homes.

With the peasant resistance intensifying and turning more and more militant, the company official s and  workforce operating in the field stated feeling insecure. The closure of work in the past, few months had cost the company heavily. The company now decided to launch a bilateral agreement with the Adivasi Sangh, sidelining the diffident district adminstration.The Company after opting for negotiations wit the Sangh, concentrated all its efforts to quicken the process of negotiation. They rushed to the Sangh office.

With the support of a strong peasant resistance movement, the Sang was in afar better position to negotiate. Even if it was in a position to entangle a rope around the company’s neck if it violated the commitments, The Sang marched stealthily. The company was desperate to resume work at Oringi gate where it’s machinery was rusting, and was offering one concession after another. The Sangh wasted to exert the maximum pressure over the company before allowing it to resume to work, so that it dare not violate in future the agreement made in the Sangh.Finally, the Sangh invited the company officials to the Oringi ghat work site on October 3rd, where a peasant assembly would give it’s verdict on whether or not to allow the company to work.

On October 3rd it was raining heavily, and despite the rains, hundreds of armed adivasi peasants reached the Sangh camp. After a meeting in the camp, the peasant procession proceeded to the Oringi River gate for an on the spot inspection of the pipeline work and the deliberations with company representatives. The peasant gathering, drenched with rain, returned to their camp, after leaving a message for the company representatives.

After getting information, the company representatives made a bee-line to the Sangh camp in the downpour, appealing to the peasants to allow them to resume work. As according to the decision, the local leader of resistance permitted them a limited specified work till the final agreement was resolved.

A remarkable aspect of the negotiation process that the company could not accept was the democratic approach of the Sangh. In the negotiation meetings held between the 2 sides, a large number of pipeline –affected tribal peasants, usually ranging from 50-200 participated in the talks.

Whatever the Sangh representative spoke in Hindi (Indian national language), was translated into Oriya (native language of the tribals in Orissa), for the benefit of the tribal peasants. The tribal peasants listened to every word of the discussion and fought if anything was not translated. Their mood and intervention saved the negotiations from collapsing. Before the final agreement was signed, it was read aloud and explained in detail to more than 200 tribal peasants and their consent was taken.

Major gains

The talks process took place over nearly month, the successful conclusion of a bilateral agreement signaled a major victory for the Sangh and the peasants.

.Land Compensation was awarded, Crop compensation was given compensation of tress was given, Compensation for hoses and assets were given, Compensation in cases of accident was given, Employment and wages was awarded, Community Collective Compensation was awarded, .Etc.

The Significance of the Struggle was the successful assertion of peasant’s rights over all lands during this struggle will serve as an important base in all the agrarian revolutionary fights over the land question. The great struggle was not uplifted by any sudden upsurge of the tribals against he pipeline company

The Sangh leadership foresaw a diligent effort to build a peasant resistance in a well -organized way, and ultimately changed a  setback situation to one of triumph. The might of the all-powerful steel company had to surrender to the strength of the masses like an emperor bowing to his subjects, pleeding for forgiveness. The lesson is that if your cause is genuine and you depend on the invincible capability of the masses and attempt to struggle, even an enemy who seems invincible can be defeated.

The struggle also united the Adivasi peasants with the Bengali toiling masses on a big scale in their joint struggle against a common enemy. Earlier there were attempts to divide the Bengali speaking peasantry from the Adivasi community of Orrisa.The trade and money-lending practices of a section of Bengali migrants and usurpation of Adivasi lands by them created antagonistic relations

Finally, now democratic revolutionary forces under various banners are active along the whole stretch of the pipeline in 3 states-Chattisgarh,Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

This pipeline traverse through these 3 states ,but unfortunately,only the Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh,staged a protracted resistance combating the e loot of the powerful company on the toiling Adivasis.The act of laying a pipeline can hardly go un-noticed by the progessive forces.

The Sangh discovered that for the purpose of a pipeline, land was being acquired from the tribals in complete disregard of laws regarding Adivasi land. Agents of Essar Steel Company acquired tribal’s land violating the laws regarding Adivasi land.The tribals were praised a lot of money.125 hectares spread over 125 villages would be purchased and the company explained the tribals that thee was no scope to stop the acquisition. The Sangh explained the tribals not to part with the land and believe the false promises of the Company.

DEVELOPING A NEW STYLE OF WORK (20th anniversary year)

A drastic change of style was made in the style of work.from March 2000 after the victory in the struggle over issue of Bamboo trees,Decentralisation was launched with two to three full time cadre attached to each area. The earlier style of work was totally transformed when the entire team would stay for two to three months for a demand. Now not all activists had to stay in a village for a monthly meeting. Still monthly meetings of the Sangh were regularly held.

Some classes of advanced elements through public meetings and youth programmes were held/It informed the people of the goal of this plan .It helped in replacing the old local leadership of the Sangh,some who were treacherous, others bureaucratic.

Three broad issues of Jamin,Jungle,Jal were raised. At the local level issues wee raised like the rationing system.

The change in style of work brought the land question more to the fore. Several faulty practices were confronted to the core.Tribals were displaced of their land loosing it to new comer tribals,with no alternative land provided. The activists surveyed every family, in respect to position, number of family members alienation of their land, condition, agricultural and bamboo work. Very prompt gheraos were enforced after a sarpanch or panchayat official had defaulted, with a solution demanded. One very common phenomena was pattas were not awarded with land allotted to tribals labelled as forest land.

A major agitation was precipitated to confront forcible plantation of trees by forest department. The tehsildar found that the peasants whose land was taken away for plantation were otherwise landless. It was discovered that, in order to fulfil the stipulation that villagers had voluntarily given their land for plantation, the forest officials routinely take peasant’s signatures as a false pretext. The Forest department was now told that plantation may be decided only in a tripartite meeting of the forest officials,sangh and the village people.

In another area, there was an attempt to implement the tripartite system which demarcated the land for plantation on September 11th..On September 12th forest official ignored this and began planting another cultivated plot of 50 acres. On night of September 12th people assembled and decided the course of action. On the 13th September, armed with ploughs mass cultivation was undertaken on the 50 acre plot. They immediately went to the tehsil office to demand and explanation to account for the action of the officials. The forest officials were forced to come to the village with the police and forced to redress the problem. They were compelled to sit at a lower level as they and the tehsildar were.

The police now tried to arrest some people, in the village Nayak.However the women saved him .The people’s hearts were now burning with rage which compelled the police to mediate with an advisor of the Sangh  to pacify  the people and openly declare that they would carry out no action on the people. The Tehsildar asked the Sangh for a list of villages where the forest department was carrying out plantation and where the people really do not have land immediately.

Another programme which had lightning response was when a local MLA visited the area. The people held the MLSA to ransom who was unable to hold the proposed meeting, and forced to vacate the premises. However she was served with a five point charter of demands.1.Land to the landless 2.demarcation of land promised to the people 3.Opening of a primary health Centre in the area.4.Arrangements for teachers to actually come to teach.5.Provision of drinking water to all villages.

Among other activities taken up in this area were

  1. Meetings of Bamboo labourers and preparations for forming units of the Union
  2. Discussions with teachers who are posted in the tribal areas for reasons for not attending their schools.
  3. In one area land was re-occupied and returned ,where tribals had been alienated.
  4. A fight was waged against the panchayat regarding the peoples fight over a particular pond.
  5. In another pocket, three or four cases were taken up regarding mortgaged land which had been alienated.
  6. In one or tow panchayats ,police had been pressurising people to carry out ganja cultivation ,and then collecting heavy mamools.This was challenged by the Sangh.The earlier police official was transferred.
  7. Surveys were undertaken whether tribals were receiving full quota of rations at Below Poverty line practices.
  8. A pipeline is being laid from mines in Bailladilla in order to carry iron slurry.Malkangiri falls into its path. For the purpose of the pipeline,land is being acquired from tribals.The land had been acquired by Essar Steel.Agents of the Company gave the affected tribals of the Gazette notification declaring there was no scope to stop the acquisition and the tribals l would be awarded a lot of money.Totally,125 areas ,encompassing 41 villages were acquired.

Dividends of New Work Style

Grater self-reliance was enhanced. Now every issue did not have to go to the district headquarters. People’s mobility was accelerated considerably. The People are now more at the root or the centre of decisions. Cadres rely more on the people. In impromptu meetings around 700-800 persons assemble while in programmes around 1000.Cadres and people are formulating new methods of work. Large delegations activists are sent to meetings or gheraos outside the offices of officials.

Cadres are now studying more intensely. Study was linked to practice .It prompted new cadres to study. People could see the inter connection of various problems. The political school most dialectically related the connection of the ideology to the people’s day to day lives.

The Continuity of struggles gave rise to a situation where people themselves gave decisions. For example people conducting rallies assembled from all sides at the Tehsil headquarters  where a common charter of demands was placed on local issues like-tax placed on haats and the high boat fares.

Financially, Travel expenses have decreased and people are making their own arrangements On October 27th,2000 a rally was held of about 3000 persons with expenditure amounting to almost nil.

In a cultural programme expenditure amounted to Rs.11000 which should have costed RS 30000.thE Sangh wished to stage a programme which would make the tribals carve out their own cultural Organization. The programme itself was a conference of geetkudiyas –women poet singers, who compose their songs as they sing them/The Sangh leaders explained how the conferences and organisation were their own.The Geetkudiyas were encouraged to sing songs not only on the Sangh but also on the rest of their lives, experiences, interests ,loves and aspirations. Such a programme reduced the barriers between the non –tribals .

Other problems that came to light were regarding dams and rehabilitation, inequality and Communalism, forests and so on.

Keeping Contact with other areas.

A most effective network was created .Part  time activists are dispersed  to consolidate the mass organisation structure ,monthly meetings in case of emergency need,organising agitation eg.replacing rations, revenue officers corruption etc,.In Tandki-Challanaguda ,agitations were conducted .In an area where a  new group of timber mafia attempting to grab 600 trees. was twice foiled by stationing  a regular camp., conducted by the militant Didois.

In certain areas no contact is left, but people come to the Sangh to report their problems, which are recorded by an activist. In most cases, no immediate action is undertaken by th Sangh but advise is delivered on how to tackle the problem.

In areas where no contact is possible, regular study classes are initiated .An important topic is they had not been paid by the contractors for the road construction work they had done. The tribals en masses carried al the equipment of the contractor,which they then, defended, armed with traditional weapons. They refused to vacate till they were paid wages. When the contractor offered to do so ,they still refused to accept the wages, except in the presence of the Sangh representative.

Thus the Sangh is able to make deeper inroads in some areas, giving agrarian revolutionary movement a more articulate or defining shape. It’s attempt to devise new methods of work have sharpened or intensified the scale of the movement.

PROTEST OPPOSING OPERATION GREENHUNT-2010 (Merinews .com)

On May Day  2010 also known as Labour Day  was observed in Malkangiri district headquarters under the banner of Malkangiri Jila Adivasi Sangh for the first time. Around 10000 tribals with their traditional arms like bows and arrows took out a rally at Malkangiri town covering all the important junctions mainly protesting the operation ‘Green Hunt’. The tribals also distributed printed pamphlets in which they alleged the operation ‘Green Hunt’ means hunting the tribals in the remote tribal populated villages developed in the forest areas. They alleged that a civil war is going on under the banner of ‘Green Hunt’ to suppress tribal opposition to acquire their traditional lands for the benefit of corporate houses.

The Prime Minister of India once said that all round development, works towards strengthening the economic condition of the poor and tribals, but on the other side, the same Prime Minister of India declared war against the tribals in the name of wiping out Maoists. The ongoing civil war under the code name of operation ‘Green Hunt’ is the joint operation against Maoists adjoining Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

The tribals, urged the government to suspend Operation Green Hunt in their representation addressed to the Chief Minister submitted through the collector, Malkangiri on Saturday last.   If the present trend of government policies continues then the people will be forced to go for agitation to get their basic amenities like water, health, education, communication facilities of all the 150 villages developed on the other side of Chitrakonda Reservoir (displaced by power projects), the tribals warned.

For the tribals and poor those who have been systematically repressed, resources looted, fundamental rights violated all the 60 years after independence are facing now the threat of eviction through ‘Green Hunt’ which is nothing but an united front of state and mining corporations to grab their land and rich natural resources by silencing the voices which is not possible on the part of government, the tribal leaders asserted.

The tribals demanded once again to suspend the ‘Green Hunt’ and withdraw the paramilitary forces deployed in Malkangiri and other areas in Koraput district and stop police atrocities on Kaling Nagar, the leaders urged distributing pamphlets on the May Day.

RECENT MAY DAY PROGRAMMES

2016 MAY DAY PROGRAMME(report by Javed Iqbal)

At around 1 pm on May 1, in 43 degrees Celsius, a quiet, disciplined rally marched through the main market in Balimela, Odisha, and congregated near the bus stop for a public meeting.

International Labour Day in Odisha’s Malkangiri district saw over 3000 adivasis and workers march against everything from Operation Greenhunt and the Polavaram project – which will cause more backwater flooding than displacement in the area – to the failures of the public distribution system and the repression and arrest of its activists.

They marched under the decades-old Malkangiri Zilla Adivasi Sangh (MZAS), whose president Balraju Gamel spoke on how “this is not a country of land, but one of people”. The MZAS was established in the late 1970s when forest officials in the Manuskhunda jungle belt arrested adivasis from 40 villages for settling forest lands.

As they marched, the adivasis demanded proper implementation of NREGA, to stop forced migration, and of Indira Awas Yojana, as well as the reform of the education system for adivasis, comprising the building of schools, better teacher training and vocational training for students.

They demanded the handing over of pattas and the rights over forest produce. They demanded that the land that was grabbed by non-tribals and corporations be handed back to them. They demanded that all un-regularised workers be regularised.

They insisted that the Konda Reddis, Nokaduras, Dhurwas, Ranes, Gouds, Kumhars and Kamhars of the forests of Malkangiri, who have practiced adivasi culture for centuries, be classified as scheduled tribes. Repeated in the banners, slogans and speeches, was the demand for the preservation of adivasi culture against state repression. The meeting was delayed as the police prevented some vehicles from joining the procession. The police has often treated the MZAS as a Maoist front. The MZAS meanwhile, has accused the police of posting anti-naxal posters and banners on the streets of Malkangiri, with their convenor’s phone number attached.

Finally, the meeting began. The MZAS is an independent adivasi body. On May 1, it marched with blue collar workers of the decades-old Balimela Hydroelectric Project. “How can Operation Greenhunt happen without permission from the Gram Sabha?” This was one of the queries posed by the protestors. Amplified over the sound system were a range of demands, from jal, jungle aur jameen, to “adivasi par soshan daman band karo,” to the end of imperialist oppression. “Return all the unused land of the Odisha Hydroelectric Power Corporation (OHPC) to their rightful owners.” The banner above reads “American Imperialism should bite Iraqi dust.”

The lone turituri of the rally. Bideshi Gouda, whose father was in jail when he was born, is the convenor of the MZAS.

Bideshi Gouda, named by his father who was in jail when he was born, is a convenor of Malkangiri Zilla Adivasi Sangh who questioned at the rally how any government can create policy concerning adivasis without consulting them. At the rally, Gouda questioned how a government can create policy concerning adivasis without consulting them.

Adivasi marchers rested before the rally at the Balimela Hydro Power Project Employees Union (BHPPE) recreation centre. While the BHPPE were part of the march, another union of the same South Corporation did not join the proceedings. Reacting to their non-participation, a journalist from Jeypore said they were casteist.

The marchers resting before the rally at the Balimela Hydro Power Project Employees Union (BHPPE) recreation centre. While the BHPPE were part of the march, another union of the same South Corporation did not join the proceedings. Reacting to their non-participation, a journalist from Jeypore said they were casteist.

After the rest, the workers resumed the rally.

A kafila from Chitrakonda marched to join the rest of the protestors.

Mahesh Samrath of Naranguda village participated who was  the brother of Thrinat Samrat, who was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by the police in 2012. Three vehicles came from his panchayat alone.

The issue will also be raised today in the Zilla Parishad meeting in Malkangiri, said sources.

2018 May Day Programme

7000 persons joined this programme including the Chitrakonda Dam workers Union.,Indravati Dam Workers and Balimela dam workers. Speakers narrated how the Chitragonda Dam workers tried to build worker -peasant unity and solidarity by organising the villages around it. For those activities and struggle for proper wage and permanent job workers were arrested and whole leadership arrested in conspiracy case. Hundreds of tribals were arrested for waging struggle for Jungle-Jameen.

It was recounted how Peasants for half a year turned into workers, thus swapping functions in desperation. A leaflet was distributed which highlighted the present situation where peasants lost their land and had to travel to distant places. The History of May day was recounted stressing on how the Capitalist class tried to distort its true meaning ,equating the occasion with ‘Peace;,’Observation’.

The displacement caused by industrialisation was recounted .It narrated how in 6000 villages 90% of tribals were displaced and did not receive pattas promised.The Nyamgiri struggle was narrated in context of worker-peasant Unity and need to wage struggles for land,forests, water etc.and organising tribals and dalits.who did not receive rice or square meals.

It was described how capitalism wished to create a world war to diffuse the class struggles. An example was given of how an atom bomb or atomic weapons. would destroy the entire human race. The fact that exploitation was multiplying day by day was connected to the topic of how only a Socialist Society could genuinely provide an alternative. In detail speakers explained the policies of displacement by dams and industries in the name of development.

The demands raised by MANREGA project were raised ,as well as the 50%division of dalit-tribal population and performing Dadari labour. The goals of equality, liberty and justice were raised.The aspect of ‘Violent’ or’Non-Violent’ were irrelevant in their view., but struggle is the only way out.

A big contingent of of tractors,trucks,Auto rickshaws assembled with huge provisions of rice.The protestors converged and stopped at at Kala Baisakhu.at 11.a.m.A pandal was set up .A charter of demands was presented at the B/D.O in Maithali .Slogans were raised condemning Operation Greenhunt,For implementation of land to the tiller’,Opposing Dadari labour,demanding ROR to Occupied land, implanting or MANREGA demands.

At the conclusion Biju Upadhaya stressed on the need for the Adivasis to build and strengthen their own democratic organisation .The experiences of 40 years of the Organisation was summarized highlighting both the achievements and failures. The gross historical injustices were rcounted.It was explained what form real People’s Democracy would take .The plight of Adivasis and Dalits was described.

2019 MAY DAY PROGRAMME

Malkangiri Zilla Adivasi Sangh held a rally with 4 succcessful programmes on May day mobilisng over 6000 adivasis.A handbill was printed with 19 demands .

Its main goal was to resist the treacherous onslaught on the forest rights act which has many important clauses to protect the Adivasi comunity and to oppose the efforts of the state to revive a bill that would give a free licence to the corporates to plunder the forests and lot the Adivasis.

It also condemned Operation Green Hunt with several activist of the Sangh branded as Maoists, and neglect of proper education in tribal villages, raised slogan for jungle,jal,zameen and pani,demanded distribution of land patttas ,opposed scrapping of bill denying rights of land posession promised to Adivasis and re-instatement of retrenched workers in companies in Balimela.

Human rights activists and dalits attended as well as Lingri Azad.Programmes of high qualitative value for Adivasi movement. The spark of Malkangiri Adivasi movement or Sangh still shimmers which is most encouraging. A major education and stepping stone for the unity of the Adivasis with the proletariat in Balimela.4 programmes were held on the same day.which all had high relevance towards building political class consciousness.

Work of MZAS played a most significant role in agrarian revolutionary movement in the last twenty five years organizing Adivasis at the very grassroots on issues of forest. water and land.meticuluos efforts have been made to educate the tribal community by devising their own forms to teach them Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. In recent times greatest stress placed on fighting for implentation of land rights promised in the constitution for tribals .Aso painstaking work and campaign explaining the tribals the futility of the parliamentary system and to build their revolutionary alternative.

PROTEST AGAINST BUILDING OF DAM ON RIVER  IN SEPTEMBER 2019

Tribals from Mahupadar and Temrupali gram panchayats (GPs) in Malkangiri district have been protested the construction of dam by Chhattisgarh on Saberi River.

Hundred of tribal men and women had on Tuesday participated in a protest march under the banner of Malkangiri Zilla Adivasi Sangh as there is threat that both the villages will be submerged due to construction of the dam across the river.The Sangh has alleged that though the dam is constructed by Chhattisgarh on its share of the river, it will have an adverse impact on Malkangiri district. The tribals demanded that the construction of the dam should be immediately stalled or the protest will be intensifie

Harsh Thakor is a political commentator. Email-thakor.harsh5@gmail.com


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