It has come to our notice that an article titled “Lockdown has pushed Tribes in Odisha’s Niyamgiri Hills to the brink of Starvation” by Abhijit Mohanty. I would like to point out that the article is inaccurate and misleading.
Firstly, the headline itself is misleading when it says the Lockdown has pushed us to the brink of starvation. The starvation and malnutrition in the area are a long-unsolved problem because of structural injustices that Adivasi people face. To reduce the problem to just be an impact of the Lockdown is a distortion of reality.
Secondly, the story has been written without any field visits made by the author and is based on the misinformation provided by certain NGOs. These NGOs have not communicated with the Panchayat or the community in general regarding the matter. In fact, the pictures provided are of a different time and the names do not match the photographs. This seems like the concerned NGOs are posturing as concerned organizations to the larger world to fulfill their project goals.
Thirdly, if the article was based on facts then it would have not missed the biggest problem we face right now, i.e. the sale of the massive pineapple stocks recently harvested. If these stocks do not move to the market then we are going to lose lakhs.
Fourthly, our Panchayat has taken swift action to address the Lockdown situation. Free ration for three months was distributed by the Panchayat. Rs. 1000 has also been provided per ration card. Nirman Shramik beneficiaries have been provided Rs.1500. All Govt provided benefits have reached the citizens of Kurli Panchayat. Also, several NGOs have provided relief material in several villages of the Panchayat.
I would like to point out that the village mentioned in the article, Kadragumma, is just 1km away from the Panchayat headquarter and I have not been informed of any starvation case due to the Lockdown. Let me repeat that starvation, malnutrition, health problems, livelihood problems are endemic to our region because of years and years of exploitation and apathy. To reduce the problem to just be an effect of the lockdown is a grave distortion.
I find this article to be unethical and incorrect. Rather than stating our real problems, the NGOs are twisting the narrative to serve their agenda. Since we do not have access to mainstream media like your website our voices are not represented and Delhi based writers are cooking up stories that serve their interests.
I strongly condemn this unethical reporting and urge the website to pull down the article or make immediate corrections.
Here is the link of the original article published by The Wire-https://thewire.in/rights/lockdown-dongria-kondh-adivasis-odisha
This was the original Facebook post of Jitu Jakesika he has posted on 14.05.2020.
- Jitu Jakesika is a mass leader in the South Western Odisha. He has been fighting against the corporate loot of Adivasi communities and their resources in Odisha. He contested in the last State Assembly Election for the post of MLA in 2019. He vastly represents the oppressed masses of the Adivasi, OBCs, and Dalit and has been an authentic and powerful voice for them.