Rayagada: The power of democracy may rest in the people but its not always violent agitations that lead to desired outcomes. In a gesture that restored the power of ‘satyagraha’ and ahimsa (non-violence), the district administration of Rayagada in Odisha assured in writing to meet the long-standing developmental demands of people within 72 hours after residents of a village in Kashipur block of Odisha’s Rayagada district staged a 36-hour long strike a few days back.
As per reports, resentment was brewing among residents of Kanhuguda village as development eluded the area for years. Despite its scenic beauty and strategic location surrounded by hills and river, the village neither had road connectivity nor basic amenities like clean drinking water.
While the government set up anganwadi centres, schools and hospitals, there were no workers, teachers or doctors to cater to the establishments for the 180 families inhabiting the village.
Every now and then, the villagers raised these issues and appealed to the local administration and elected representatives. But all assurances were conveniently forgotten after polls. However, things took a turn when social activist Balaram Panda visited the village and saw the state of affairs. Joining hands with some of his colleagues in the neighbouring area, he interacted with the residents and instilled in them self-confidence and the power of truth and satyagraha in a democracy.
After regular interactions, villagers mustered up the courage to take the non-violence route in staging an agitation for their demands and on January 22, wrote to the administration about their indefinite strike entailing a 22 km padyatra to Kashipur.
The very next day, the administration announced appointment of teachers in schools including digging up of three tubewells. However, as there was no announcement on the pucca road, villagers started their padyatra on January 24th. Braving the rains, the protestors raised slogans of Mahatma Gandhi and kept the agitation going. After 36 hours, they finally called off the protest after Rayagada Sub-Collector reached the spot and assured them in writing that all their demands would be met by February 1. Not just that, the administration also assured that a pole would be constructed by February 15.