Sabar community to boycott panchayat poll

Jajpur:Members of Sabar community in 10 coastal districts have threatened to boycott the ensuing three-tier panchayat polls to protest the refusal of the state government to give them tribal status.

"We will not participate in coming panchayat polls and will not exercise our franchise till our demand is fulfilled. Tribal status to our community is a long-standing demand, but the state government has done nothing in this regard," said Baman Nayak, state president of Sri Sri Nilamadhab Adivasi Sangh (SSNAS).
He said the decision to abstain from panchayat polls was taken at a meeting held at Palar under Dharmasala block in Jajpur district last week.

People belonging to this community mostly reside in Jajpur, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Khurda, Balasore and other coastal districts in the state.
Out of some seven lakh Sabar population in the state, Jajpur district alone has 1.64 lakh Sabar population, highest in Odisha, sources said.

"We have been demanding tribal status to our community for many years. But the state government has been paying no heed to our demand. Hence we have been deprived of various benefits meant for the tribals. We will take to the street if our demand is not fulfilled soon," said Kusa Nayak, Jajpur district president of SSNAS.

"As a major chunk of population is in Jajpur, the district will take lead of the community to mount pressure on the government to take steps for grant of tribal status," said Kanhu Charan Samal, another leader.