Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik finally met evicted Dalit villagers of Koraput district on Tuesday after a suicide bid by four of them a day earlier.
The Dalits attempted self-immolation when they were denied an interview with Patnaik.
Ironically, a tribal outfit called Chasi Mulia Sangha (CMS), which has left leanings, drove them out of their native
soil. The body has connections with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist),
an overground political organisation. It is not known if the CMS has any truck with the Maoists.
Patnaik agreed to provide money from the chief minister’s relief fund for the daily expenses of the families for one month. He also directed officials to immediately build houses in places where the villagers wanted to settle.
About 200 people from Bandhugaon block of Koraput, about 600 km southeast of Bhubaneswar, have been demonstrating here for the past four days.
About 350 families, mostly Dalit, have been herded into seven relief camps. Their conditions have worsened because the district administration had stopped food and other forms of support. It was then that the villagers wanted to solicit Patnaik’s help.
Koraput District Collector R.P. Patil said about 500 families had been displaced by the CMS, but 300 of them had returned home.
“We have provided them assistance and released funds for them to build houses,” he said.
There is unrest for more two years in Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon blocks because the CMS has launched its agitation of forcibly occupying land. A few landlords were killed and most fled the place. The landless who did not join ranks with the CMS were also hounded out.