This is the preliminary report of the DSU fact-finding visit to Narayanpatna, Odisha between 11 and 16 April 2011, and which was released today on 26 April 2011 in a Press Conference at the Press Club of India, New Delhi. Prof. AMit Bhaduri, Sumit Chakravarti and Dr. Saroj Giri also addressed the gathering. DSU will soon come out with a full and detailed Report on the visit. We request you to circulate this preliminary report widely.
Democratic Students’ Union (DSU)
A REPORT FROM GROUND ZERO:
PRELIMINARY REPORT OF THE DSU FACT-FINDING VISIT TO NARAYANPATNA, ODISHA
A team of students from DU, JNU and IGNOU belonging to the Democratic Students’ Union (DSU) visited Narayanpatna Block in the Koraput district of Odisha from 11 April to 16 April 2011. The objective of the visit was to study the ground situation at present in the region where a militant mass struggle is going on for the last few years, and according to the media reports, has faced extreme forms of state repression. The aim was also to study the socio-economic aspects of the social life of Narayanpatna region, and to look into the factors that have contributed to the emergence of this important peasant struggle in contemporary South Asia.
Narayanpatna is inhabited by sixteen tribal communities including Kui, Parija, Jorka, Matia, Doria and others, of whom the Kuis are numerically predominant. The adivasis, who constitute more than 90 percent of around 45,000 people of Narayanpatna block, are interspersed with Dalit communities such as Mali, Dombo, Forga, Paiko, Rilli, etc. Dominant castes such as the Sundis and Brahmins are numerically small but are powerful and influential. Though the incursion of non-adivasis has a long history going back to the establishment of the Narayanpatna Raj centuries back, the Sundis have entered the district after they were driven away from Coastal Andhra during the Srikakulam armed struggle in the 1960s. The Sundis as well as a small section of Dalits from the Dombo and Rilli castes too have made money by exploiting the adivasis and selling them liquor. The non-adivasis are around 5000 in number, and the ruling elite of Narayanpatna belong to this group. It was also clear to us that the identities such as that of landlord, liquor trader, money-lender and politician are not separate or mutually exclusive, but usually coexist in the members of the dominant classes of the region.
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