AKASH BISHT - Tribals up in arms after govt links Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti with Maoists in Odisha

On 25 April, hundreds of tribals and several members of various civil society organisations protested outside the Vedanta's refinery plant in Lanjigarh, Odisha. Agitated with the recent Union Home Ministry's report linking Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS) with the Maoists, the tribals called the report fabricated, demanding that it be withdrawn immediately and that no efforts should be made to link a democratic and constitutional body like the NSS with the ultra left outfit.

BASELESS ALLEGATIONS: Speaking to Catch from Lanjigarh, NSS organiser Lingaraj Azad said that these allegations are baseless and that the outfit has been loggerheads with the Maoists on multiple issues including the mindless violence carried out by them against innocent villagers.
“NSS is a democratic, constitutional and progressive front that has been fighting for the poor Dongaria Kondh tribes living in 160 villages. We have been fighting the cause of the tribals much before the Maoists came here. So Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government should stop linking us with the Maoist Front,” Lingaraj said. 

According to him, the government has linked the two to weaken the tribals’ resolve to stop Vedanta from exploiting the Niyamgiri hills, which are famous for their incredible biodiversity. “We defied the Maoists in 2013 when they threatened us with dire consequences if we held gram sabhas in 12 villages affected by mining. We still went ahead. We have been fighting the Maoists, government and Vedanta for more than 14 years and would not stop now,” Lingaraj claimed.

THE CONCERNS: The Home Ministry, in its report, claimed, “In 2016, the issue of displacement of local communities remained the main plank of mobilization by the mass organisations. In Niyamgiri Hills area (Districts Rayagada and Kalahandi, Odisha), the outfit (Maoists) continued to guide the activities of the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti. Similarly in Jharkhand the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan a front of the CPI (Maoist), tried to take up pro-tribal issues and opposed amendments to the Chhotanagpur and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Acts, modifications in Domicile Policy etc. Maoist affiliates also undertook protest programmes and resorted to anti-Government propaganda over alleged atrocities by Security Forces.”.. read more:

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