by Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakhya Sangathan
On 8th March 2015, when the world was observing International Women’s Day, Odisha police fired upon women agitators at Namatara village of Rajakanika block of Kendrapada district and injured 16 villagers, mostly women.
Out of those injured people, 9 villagers (five women, two girl children and 2 men) got admitted in Cuttak Medical College because of serious bullet injury. Now the police have already arrested 6 people for attacking the police and have filed cases against 60 people also. Namatara village having 200 houses are mostly of dalit communities.
Such act of brutality of Odisha police is condemnable.
The women around Rajakanika area were observing Women’s Day on their own way and on that day they went on burning foreign liquor shop, at Namatara village. They were demanding of closing down of that shop for last two years. Even they had given their demands in writing to Mr. Baijayanta Panda, Member of Parliament and Mr. PratapDev, MLA and to the District Collector, several times, what local activist of NishaMuktiAbhijan speaks.
So, failing from those sides they themselves decided to destroy the shop on International Women’s Day. While coming back from that place, district armed police reached to the village and fired them.
The state government, with the logic of earning targeted revenue of 1800 crores, has started a drive to open up more and more liquor shops both in rural and town areas. But this has been opposed by several groups in the State. Recently, when a team of social activists of NishaMuktiAbhiyan met the excise minister at the Secretariat, the later assured them of not opening any new shop without consent of pallisabha and gramsabha. This has been reported in the media. But in this case, when the dalit women of Namatara village were demanding of closing down of that shop, that went unheard.
It is not only at Namatara village, but in several parts of Odisha, both in tribal as well as in non-tribal areas, people, largely dalit and adivasi women, are now coming on the street and are opposing opening of liquor shops in their own areas. At many places in Odisha, like in Kashipur of Rayagada, Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon of Koraput district, Mathili of Malkangiri, Nikirai and Mahalhat of Kendrapada district, women and men have destroyed liquor shops in last 4 years due to deaf year of the government. They are all facing legal charges.
Most of the women who are participating in such struggle are from poor background. In a male dominated society like us, when daily wage workers, small peasants and village artisans, mostly male, are expending major amount of their income in consuming liquor then other members of their respective families are not getting proper food, education and health treatment. In these cases the most vulnerable are children and aged people in their familiesbecause of addictive-consumption of liquor of male earner.
Specifically, in post-economic reform phase, when burden of education and health care are lying more on individuals because the State is withdrawing from its welfare-role, so slightest unmindful expenses of the bread earner is causing much havoc in the family. On the other hand, both corporate and bureaucrats are taking away lion’s share of the State which ultimately is causing more gap between the poor and the rich. At this stage we, in Odisha, are finding more rural poor women who have one agenda, destroying of liquor shop and in retaliation, police is resorting to arrest and firing.
So in case of Namatara incident several organisations like Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakhya Sangathan, Lok Shakti Abhiyan and Committee Against Fabricated Cases etc. are demanding of announcement of rupees one lakh as compensation for the injured people, arresting those police engaged in such firing under 307, attempt to murder, of IPC and treating decisions of Pallisabha and Gramsabha in both tribal and non-tribal areas regarding opening up of new shops and running of existing oneas final decision of the government.