Odisha Bahujana Adhikar Samabesh Issues Bhubaneswar Declaration, Resolution cum Memorandum

Odisha Bahujana Adhikar Samabesh

We, the people of Odisha representing different social groups of socially marginalized sections, Mulnivasi, Indigenous, Adivasi, Dalit, Backward classes, and Religious Minorities (SCs, STs, OBCs, and RMs) constitute more than 90 percent of the population of the State, called Bahujan- the majority of people, assembled here at Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Lower PMG, Bhubaneswar on 28th Feb 2024.

This is our land. We belong to the producer communities of the State, but we have been historically deprived of our rights and entitlements for a long time, even after the enforcement of Constitutional governance in the country, due to the policies adopted by the subsequent governments that ruled this State.

The protective legislation against social discrimination, special schemes, sub-plans within budgetary allocations, provisions of representation in education, job, and governance structure, are not being implemented in letter and spirit. For a long time, we have been under represented in different pillars of the democratic State, such as the executive, legislative and judiciary, and deprived of getting due share in different sectors of the economy, such as land, education, employment, finance, capital, business, and industries.

A few powerful, rich and dominant caste in the state have hegemonically over- represented themselves in the social, economic, and political spheres of the State. We understand that the continued inequality in sharing power and resources and denial of a level playing field to a vast majority of social groups is not inclusive development of Odisha. We have witnessed the vulnerability of poor people featured in the poverty, BPL category, mostly ST and SCs, as landless migrant workers. They lack employment and a minimum level of earning as casual workers within the State. The State pays one of the lowest minimum wages and social security pensions in the country. The deterioration in the quality of education with the increase in dropout rate, mostly among SC and ST students, is a major concern. There has been an increase in cases of violence and atrocities against vulnerable sections such as women, SC, ST and minorities. Meanwhile, the mineral resources of the State serve a handful of leaseholders at the cost of the State’s natural resources. The process of privatization of resources has affected the livelihoods of the poor who depend on natural resources.

To build a better future for our children to live with dignity, as citizens of this country, we deserve every right to live with dignity without discrimination, and no one can deprive us of the  realization of our human rights and the right to fair participation in all public matters and all sectors of development as equal contributors in nation-building.

We draw inspiration from our forefathers who fought against British imperialism, feudalism, kings, zamindars, and Manuvadis who believed in the Varna system and caste supremacy. Our forefathers, along with many progressive freedom fighters, fought for the establishment of a democratic, secular, and socialist pattern of society that has been reflected in the preamble of our Constitution. 

We all gather here to ventilate our concerns in the form of a charge sheet framed against the government for negligence and inaction, and as reparation, we have a set of demands before the State government, in particular, and the people of Odisha in general.

Odisha Bahujana Adhikar Samabesh 1

In this historical gathering of our communities, we resolve the following demands and adopt following resolutions termed as “The Bhubaneswar Declaration”.

We affirm, on behalf of our people and all the great men and women of the Bahujan movement, to continue our historical battle against all forms of inequality, discrimination based on gender, caste, and religion, and take this struggle to every village of Odisha until the fulfillment of all our demands.

1 – While supporting the cause of an ongoing farmers’ movement, demanding MSP, this conference condemn the brutal violence by the government against protesters to suppress their genuine demands. This conference also condemned the State repression and false police cases against the struggling people opposing the exploitation of extractive industries and asserting their rights over land, forest, water, and minerals in mineral-bearing areas of the State.

2 – We express our deep concern over growing caste-based atrocities, communal violence against religious minorities and other oppressed sections, and the growing tendency towards religious fanaticism in the name of majoritarianism and caste supremacy. We condemn all forms of caste-based atrocities, gender-based violence, social discrimination, and untouchability practices that dehumanize our people and society at large.

3 -We resolve to practice and propagate Constitutional values, democracy in family and public life, and respect for human dignity, liberty, and the path of fraternity and peaceful coexistence in building an egalitarian society as our cherished worldview.

4 -This conference resolve to launch a united struggle of all oppressed communities in the State for the realization of social, economic, and political justice, and especially for the fulfillment of all the demands mentioned below. To that effect, a State-wide mass campaign movement involving all like-minded organizations and individuals will be mobilized.

5 -We present the following demands to the people of Odisha and the elected government, political parties, media, and civil society organizations for immediate implementation by the government.

The charge sheet against the government of Odisha

(Violation of Articles 14, 15, 16, 17, 21 and 39A of the Constitution of India)

1 – The protective legislation such as the PCR Act and POA Act 1989 have not been implemented properly. As a result, approximately about 30000 cases are in the trial stage in various special courts throughout the State. The conviction rate is minimal, even not 1 percent in some years. The police neglect the cases, by delaying the submission of charge sheets.  The NCRB- 2021 prison statistics of India report shows that, out of a total prison population of 20799, the convicts are 2620 and 18164 are under trials. The SCs, STs, OBCs and religious minorities constitute more than 90 percent of the jail population, with highest number being SCs. Increasing atrocities against SCs and STs and majority of prisoners from these communities shows lack of concern for them. The statutory committees for implantation of PoA Act, i.e., State vigilance and monitoring committee under the chairmanship of the chief minister and the district vigilance and monitoring committee headed by district magistrates are not holding regular review meetings. It shows the apathy of the government for the last 25 years.

2 – Why does a State having a total of 40 percent of the SCs and STs population not form State Commission for SCs and STs while about 12 States in India have such Commissions.

3 – A State Minority Commission has not been formed to provide safeguards  for the 6 percent minority population of the State.

4 – Economic rights have been violated deliberately. (Articles-21, 21A, 38, 39, 40 and 46)- Violation of rights to land, livelihood, housing, education and employment.

Mostly rural SCs and STs families and their hamlets have been deprived of getting basic amenities facilities such as safe drinking water, electricity, toilets and linking road facilities to their hamlets. Many of them have no record of rights on the land they have been living for generations. The hamlets are not declared as revenue villages.  The right to housing is part of the right to life to live with dignity but lakhs of rural landless poor and people in urban slums live a life without right to homestead land. The OGLS Act 1962 and OLR Act 1960 have not been implemented. Land being a State subject, it is the primary responsibility of the State government to ensure homestead land, housing and basic amenities for every poor household. The government has not fixed any time line to finish this important task. Why do some sections of citizens of an independent India call landless, home-less?

3 – A major chunk of dropout students belong to the SC and ST communities, as the majority of them are poor and depend on government schools for education, but the support to students at pre-matric stage is minimal and most importantly the quality of education has been deteriorating as a result of which the children of poorer sections have only low quality midday meal, school certificate but no education. The State government is not following reservation norms in the case of higher education such as medical and engineering admissions. This has deprived the SC, ST communities from getting higher education and technical education that impact on their quality of employment, income and social status.

4 – Why there has been no periodic revision of the minimum wage and why Odisha pays the lowest minimum wage and social security pension? Why has the unorganised workers social security Act 2008 not been implemented to benefit 92 percent of the workers of the State? Why does the State have a number of distressed migrant workers?

5 – Odisha is not following the Planning commission/ NITI Ayog guidelines in its budgetary allocation in regard to spending for SCs and STs under SC Sub Plan and ST Sub plan. While the States such as Telengena, AP, Karnatak and TN have made special legislation for this purpose. This is violation of the right to development by denying a fair share in public spending.

6 – Why SCs and STs have no adequate representation in government jobs as shown in the data provided by the government of Odisha. (Report on State government civilian employees of Odisha as on 31st.03.2015 on State Govt establishments, urban local bodies and public sector undertaking by the Directorate of Economic and Statistics Odisha)

7 -Why the dedicated financial corporations for SC, ST,OBC and minorities have not provided financial resources for self-employment schemes.

8 -Why PESA Rules have not been framed while all other States having scheduled area have done it. It violates self -rule of STs in 5th scheduled areas of the State and thus development of STs and their areas.

9 – Why the council of ministers and State-owned corporations and other such bodies have inadequate representation of SCs, STs and minorities. It violates the right to participation in the governance of public affairs.

10 -Why the statutory bodies responsible for protection and development of SCs and STs are not holding regular review meetings and the proceedings are not available in the public domain.


1 – Our demand for 8 decimals of homestead land for every poor landless families in rural areas and 4 decimals for the urban slum population of the State is a long-standing demand that has been overlooked by all governments of Independent India. It is a violation of Article 21 of our constitution, and the right to housing and a livelihood for a dignified life. Land being a State subject, it is the primary responsibility of the State government to solve this long-pending demand within a specific time frame. The homeless poor must be provided a grant for a two-bedroom house, equipped with water, electricity, and toilet facilities at no cost.

2 – Household /families engaged in agriculture, mostly landless agricultural workers, sharecroppers, small and marginal farmers whose primary income/ livelihood comes from agriculture, must be provided with a minimum of 3 acres of agricultural land for cultivation. The Odisha government may follow the land purchase schemes being implemented by the government of neighboring States. This scheme must be supplemented with a grant for land development, irrigation, and infrastructural development. This will definitely boost agricultural production and employment in rural and tribal areas.

3 – We demand periodic revision of the minimum wage and a minimum wage of Rs.800 per day, as well as the implementation of the unorganized workers social security Act 2008 without delay. The monthly social security pension for elderly people, PWD, widows and women-headed families must be Rs.3000 per month. There should be a special scheme to control distress migration of workers to outside the State. This demand is not for a favor of the government, rather a right of every citizen to live with dignity.

4 – In order to create more self-employment opportunities among youths, dedicated finance cooperative corporations have been set up specifically for OBC, ST, SC and religious minorities.  No financial allocations have been made   to be spent under local special schemes aimed at employment and income generation. We demand adequate finance for said cooperative corporations for self-employment schemes.

5 -We demand the enactment of a law to spend the SCSP and TSP budget in line of government of Karnataka, AP, Telengana and Tamil Nadu and special schemes for spending like the government of Keral. The Act may be named The Odisha State SCs and STs Special development fund (Planning, allocation and utilization) of Financial Resources Act. This will ensure spending by different departments and promote accountability.

6 – We have about 40 percent of the total State population belonging to SCs and STs but we do not have a State SC and ST Commission similar to Commissions in other 12 States of India.  A panel of experts from among SCs and STs, drawn from diverse backgrounds, must be appointed as Commission members.  We also demand a separate Commission for the rehabilitation, welfare, and development of sanitary workers of the State who have been engaged in sanitary work for generations. Their development and rehabilitation must be given top priority with the allocation of special funds and schemes for their liberation from indignity and underdevelopment.

7 – We have about 6 percent religious minority population in the State, approximately 25 lakh, belonging to Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain faiths. There is no forum at the state level for them to discuss their grievances and appeals regarding the violation of their rights and development. Currently, there are 17 State Minority Commissions in the country. Odisha should establish a State Minority Commission and a State-sponsored development scheme for the development of minority communities.

8 – We demand immediate implementation of reservations in all educational institutions, including medical and engineering, proportionate to the population of SCs and STs of the State as per the 2011 census.

9 – The reservation of SCs and STs in govt. Jobs  must be implemented as per the provisions  of the ORV Act, including reservation in promotion, outsourcing, contractual appointments, and all other appointments  by the government, and a special drive to fill up all the vacancies in the State government  posts and services within a specific time frame. The SC and ST employees have been facing discrimination and being deprived of getting due promotion in the absence of non-adherence to reservation policy, protective laws and court orders. Reservation in government jobs is a policy of representation of different social groups in governance. It is not an anti-poverty or unemployment eradication scheme. Social groups must have their due share in the executive wing of the government.

10 – We demand legislation to ensure a  proportionate share in all sectors of economic activities, such as business, trade and commerce, shops and commercial establishments, purchase, contractor, tender, mining, and industry, and all other activities where State resources are being used.

11 – We demand a caste-based socioeconomic census by the government to know the status of different castes, sub-castes, and  communities so that proper plans can be made for their fair representation, development and participation in nation-building. We demand a proportionate share of the OBC population in all sectors, including jobs and education and a dedicated scheme for OBC youth self-employment through OBC finance corporation. Odisha must follow the Tamilnadu model of reservation for OBCs.

12 – The State government must conduct a one-time drive for the correction of caste and sub-caste names, as well as tribe and sub -tribe names, to avoid complexities and problems in obtaining caste and tribe certificates from certificate-issuing authorities. Added to this, people availing caste and tribe certificates through fraudulent means must be publicly punished so that others may not dare to commit such crimes. The spelling mistake/correction of Mehentar/Mehotor sub-caste of SCs must be corrected as soon as possible to obtain caste certificate for the realization of their rights and entitlements. Similarly, the SC status of the Mirigan caste is limited to Nabarangpur district and Mangali caste in Koraput and Kalahandi, as they reside outside these districts. All these certificate related issues must be solved .

13 – With deep pain and anguish, this conference demands speedy trial of cases of atrocities against SCs and STs by establishing required number of exclusive  special courts in each district to dispose of the 30000 cases pending for trial. Additionally, the trials of cases of under trial inmates languishing in jails of Odisha who mostly belong to SC, ST, OBC and minorities of the state.( Ref data by NCRB for the years 2021 and 2022). The service providers of the government in the   police, administration, and judiciary organizations who are specially dealing with cases of human rights violations and atrocities against SCs and STs must be properly trained to handle such cases humanely with care and dignity, without caste bias and caste-based mindsets, while strictly adhering to the rule of law in the letter and spirit of the PCR Act and POA Act.

14 -The State government must enact PESA rules for the 5th scheduled areas of the State.

15 – We demand speedy trial of cases against SCs and STs and other marginalised sections and adequate legal aid to victims with encouraging lawyers from marginalised sections such as SCs and STs to judiciary.

16 – The traditional rights of the Scheduled Tribe and other indigenous communities over forests, land, water, forest, minerals, rivers, coasts, and all other resources for livelihood must be legally recognized. There must be strict enforcement of laws to arrest the exploiters of ST communities in 5th scheduled areas, such as money lenders, people in the liquor business, land grabbers, and others. 

17 – The families getting displaced due to dams, mining, industry, and other mega projects by private companies must be properly compensated, and their grievances must be heard without police repression over them.

18 – Dr. Ambedkar the father of the Indian constitution and one of the makers of modern India who contributed to the social justice movement in India in many ways. In order to spread his thoughts and ideas to build an egalitarian, knowledge-based society, his writings must be spread all over the state. We are proposing to the government to open Ambedkar centers/Bhawan in the State capital and all other district headquarters for public activities as an intellectual utility center. The center will promote social harmony and constitutional education to the public while providing space for public meetings, and all other social developmental activities.  The Babasaheb Ambedkar Bhawan is  in the possession of the Babasaheb Ambedkar Foundation(BAF) Angul for the above purposes.That land  must be immediately recorded in the  name of the foundation free of costs.  

19 – The statutory bodies, such as the Odisha Tribal Advisory Council, Scheduled castes welfare advisory board and State Vigilance and Monitoring Committee under POA Act, and the standing committee to monitor ORV Act implementation, are dysfunctional. These committees and all other statutory bodies should have regular meetings, and the resolutions of such meetings must be available in the public domain. 

20 -We demand Constitutional education and the thoughts of Ambedkar be included in the school course of study and compulsorily readout of lines of  preamble in all educational institutions at the beginning of the first class.

Odisha SCs, STs, OBCs and Religious Minority Joint Action Committee

Report by – Manas Jena  ([email protected])


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