Orissa tribals up in arms against government

Anger is growing among the tribal people in Orissa against the state government's indifference towards their problems and sufferings.

As such, the tribals are at war with the government over displacement issues in different parts of the state and what has enraged them now is the fact that hundreds of non-tribals have cornered advantages and privileges that should have come to them.

The issue is no longer limited to Kandhmal district which saw a massive ethnic conflict last month, and is now spreading to other districts as well.

The ethnic violence in Kandhmal last month has now spread to neighbouring Balangir, also a tribal-dominated district. Thousands of tribals, who participated in the rally are angry over reports that many non-tribals have been cornering facilities available to Scheduled Tribes by producing fake documents.

''Fake tribals occupying government jobs must be thrown out and genuine tribals be offered the posts. The land these people have bought or own must be returned and fake tribal students must be driven out of schools and colleges,'' said Satyanarayan Bhoi, president, Adivasi Kalayan Sangh.

''We tribals have lost everything, our land, our homes, our identity because of these fake certificates. The government will listen to us only if we confront them unitedly,'' said a local resident.

The state government cannot afford to antagonize the tribals. They are a huge vote bank and are already unhappy over a number of issues including displacement due to industrial projects across the state.

No wonder after sleeping over the matter for over a year, the government is now promising quick action.

''All the complaints should be sorted out by the concerned officials by the end of this year,'' said Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Orissa.

Kui Samaj, a tribal group in Kandhmal, has come out with a long list of people they allege have held government positions on the basis of fake certificates. That includes IAS and IPS officers.

But any crackdown will invite a backlash from Dalits, especially Dalit Christians.