New Delhi: In an extraordinary feat, 402 gram sabhas in 15 districts of Odisha have passed resolutions urging the state government to stop the implementation of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and pull out from the National Population Register (NPR) exercise.
Eleven state governments, including those of Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Bihar, have passed such resolutions in their respective assemblies but this is the first time that gram sabhas have taken such a step to pressurise the government to act against the NPR-CAA and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens.
Soon after the resolutions were passed in the villages, a memorandum was sent to Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and the district collectors of the 15 districts.
The gram sabhas that have passed the resolutions belong to Ganjam, Gajapati, Sundargarh, Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Bolangir, Bargarh, Keonjhar, Sambalpur, Kalahandi, Mayurbhanj, Jharsuguda and Jajpur districts of the state.
A citizens’ collective, Campaign for Survival with Dignity (CSD), Odisha Nari Samaj, and other such social organisations had been canvassing in these villages against the NPR-CAA-NRC combine. “A memorandum on the basis of these resolutions has been sent to the Odisha chief minister and Collectors of the concerned districts,” Narendra Mohanty, convening body member of CSD told The Hindu.
The daily reported that Karmi Besra of Odisha Nari Samaj; Anna Kujur of Athakosia Sangathan of Sundargarh; and Bhisma Pangi of Malkangiri and Bijay Swain of Ganjam Zilla Gramsabha Samiti played a significant role in convincing and getting the gram sabhas to pass these resolutions.
The memorandum urges the Biju Janata Dal-led government to pass a similar resolution in the assembly, along the lines of other states which have opposed NPR-CAA-NRC.
Calling the combine “anti-people”, Pradeep Sahoo, senior member of CSD’s convening body, said, “Several states of the country have already passed such resolutions against the NPR, NRC and CAA. The Odisha government and state Assembly should also follow the voice against the regressive decisions of the Central government.”
The organisations had planned a major agitation against the NPR-CAA-NRC in Bhubaneswar on March 18, but it had to be cancelled because of the threat from COVID-19.
Among the 402 gram sabhas that passed the resolution, 65 are in Ganjam, the chief minister’s home district, followed by 56 in Sundargarh and 53 in Malkangiri district.