Hundreds of tribal men and women of this industrial area in Jajpur district of Orissa on Friday appealed to all Opposition parties in the State to help them continue their agitation against displacement and alleged harassment at the hands of the local police and the administration.
They also demanded that the local police hand over the body of Laxman Jamuda, a villager who was killed in police firing at Chandia village on May 12, to his relatives.
The tribals demanded that the police immediately release Lalmohan Jamuda, nephew of the police firing victim, who was taken away by the police on the day of the firing. The demands were raised at a meeting organised by the Bisthapan Birodhi Janamanch, the organisation spearheading the anti-displacement agitation in the locality since long.
Addressing the meeting, Janamanch secretary Rabindra Jarika blamed Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal president Naveen Patnaik for using the police and the administration against them for opposing establishment of a 6 million-tonne capacity steel plant of Tata Steel in the locality at the cost of their land and livelihood sources.
Mr. Jarika appealed to the intelligentsia and concerned citizens to come to their rescue. The Janamanch will invite all Opposition parties to participate in a meeting to be held on May 22 to pay tributes to Laxman Jamuda.
Friday's meeting was attended by a number of political leaders and social activists.
Referring to reports that the police had handed over the body of Laxman Jamuda to one of his distant relatives and that it was cremated in Puri on May 12, Mr. Jarika said the administration was making all out efforts to hide the fact that Jamuda was killed by police bullets.
Among others who addressed the meeting were the former Union Minister, Braja Kishore Tripathy, president of the Odisha Jana Sammilani Rabi Das, Prafulla Samantara of the Lok Shakti Abhiyan and leaders of Communist Party of India, the CPI(M-L), the CPI(M-L) Liberation, and the CPI(ML) New Democracy, the Odisha Jana Adhikar Parishad and the Save Odisha Forum.
The speakers urged the National Human Rights Commission to intervene in the matter to save the agitating tribals from alleged police atrocities. They demanded that the Naveen Patnaik government stop adopting repressive measures against the tribals, who were not willing to part with their land for the Tata steel project.