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Mass Gatherings Of Tribals In Cut-Off Malkangiri A Warning Sign For Odisha?

Malkangiri: What is troubling the tribals of Swabhiman Region in Chitrakonda block of Malkangiri district? Though Odisha government is claiming to be focusing more on the development of the Swabhiman Anchal (earlier known as cut-off areas), the tribals and their leaders are now up in arms over the developmental works and are even opposing the BSF camp.

What is really disconcerting is the fact that the locals have organised praja melis or mass congregations nearly five times in as many months over several issues including lack of basic amenities.

After Muduliguda, the tribal congregations were held in Khajuriguda (October 28) and Hantalguda (December 3). The latest congregation was held at Arapadar on December 10. And these praja melis have been quite vocal with slogans against administrative apathy.

“We have organised rallies and congregations and even submitted a memorandum to the Collector regarding our problems, but so far the State government has not taken any steps,” said a local resident.

In the recent congregation at Arapadar, tribals from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh also participated and pro-Maoist slogans were also raised.

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“Our brothers from Andhra Pradesh are coming to help us,” said another local resident.

Though there has been a considerable drop in Maoist violence in Odisha, such congregations could be an opening for the red rebels to regroup and rejuvenate their organisation in the State.

“Whenever the administration is trying to reach out people and develop infrastructure, Maoists are opposing as they want to keep the area underdeveloped so that they can continue exploiting the locals,” said Malkangiri SP, Rishikesh Khillar.

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