**Bhubaneswar**: The Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) on Thursday announced that it will observe a bandh in undivided Koraput, Balangir and Kalahandi (KBK) districts demanding implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA).
The age-old party alleged that both the State and Central governments are shedding crocodile tears for the tribals as the FRA is yet to be implemented despite the UPA government had passed it.
“The government is not giving jungle land pattas to tribal people and Congress has been fighting for them. When our former MP Pradeep Majhi and 18 other supporters were staging protest, the government has sent them to Umerkote jail filing false cases against them. We demand their immediate release and withdraw false cases levelled against them. We have called for a bandh in Koraput, Kalahandi, Balangir, Sonepur and Nabarangpur demanding implementation of ‘Aama Jungle Yojana’ in these areas,” said PCC president Prasad Harichandan.
He pointed out that the BJD-ruled government in the state is filing false cases against the Congress workers and sending them to jail.
The State Government has also filed false cases against the tribals, who are fighting for their rights, said Harichandan.
Refuting the allegation, BJD spokesperson Dibyashankar Mishra said, “Congress is famous for changing agenda and expert in politicising things. Former Congress MP was arrested along with some Congress activists on charges of beating a forest ranger. He was arrested for staging protest and attacking the ranger not fighting for the tribal people. The Odisha government is working for the benefit of tribals and handed over around 3.5 lakh jungle land pattas.”
The way OPCC president today blamed the State Government is very unfortunate as Congress had done nothing for the tribals. Our CM always works for the benefit of tribal people. The BJD has been working for social and economic benefits of tribal people, the BJD spokesperson added.
Notably, former Nabarangpur MP Pradip Majhi has been arrested and is in jail along with 18 other supporters for allegedly ransacking a forest office and assaulting the range officer.