Postponement of Election in Kandhamal not desirable
It has come to our attention from media reports that petition to postpone the ensuing Assembly and Loksabha elections in Kandhmal district has been filed with the Chief Election Commission in light of the communal violence following the murder of Swami Laxmanannada Saraswati.
In this context an emergency meeting of all partner civil society organizations working with OSSA at the state level and in Kandhmal was held on 3rd April 2009 at Faculty Club, Utkal University to take stock of the postponement petition and its possible consequences and form a considered view on the same based on factual information from the field.
The reported petitions addressed to the EC claims that substantial proportion of the minority community that was affected in the sectarian violence are yet to return to their villages from relief camps and are not in a position to participate in the election.
After detailed discussion and feed back from Kandhamal, It was the unanimous observation of OSSA that as about 3000 persons out of almost 25000 in the relief camp, the situation has significantly improved. Majority of the people have returned to their villages as result of continuous confidence building measures initiated by the District Administration, OSSA and member organizations. There are how ever some voters who have left the district and are living in Bhubaneswar-Cuttack area as well as outside the state. We understand that special measures are being taken to enable these people to participate in this election with out the fear of intimidation.
On the question of elections, it was unanimously felt that holding the election on the announced schedule will be in the overall best interest of the people, as it would strengthen the democratic participation and process. It may minimize opportunity for creating disturbances. Where as a postponed election will provide a greater opportunity to trouble makers to take advantage of the situation for their own nefarious ends.
In view of this, OSSA would like to appeal to the government to take all further steps to ensure free and fair election in Kandhmal.simultaneously we also urge upon the Chief Electoral Officer, Orissa to ensure that the voters still living in the relief camps are enabled to exercise their franchise freely and fearlessly in the coming election. In this regard we request such mesure shall include:-
Provision of full security and ensuring maximum polling in the affected area among affected population both inside and from outside Kandhamal.
Logistics support including transport provision to facilitate easy accessibility with minimum possible difficulty on part of the voters.
Following Persons participated in the 3rd April 2009 Meeting.
- Prof. Radhamohan
- Dr. Bhagbanprakash
- Md. Ziaudin Ahmed
- Dr. Dhanadakanta Mishra
- Sri Pramod Pattanaik
- Sai Prasana
- Ashok Paikraya
- Ambika Nanda
- Manas Ranjan
- Girija Prasad Nayak
- Supriti Mishra
- Dhirendra Kumar Ray
- Sudarshna Das
- Manoj Kar
- Prof. Pratap Rath
- Prof. Santosh Tripathy
- Madhumita Ray
- Dhirendra Panda
- Sukanta Kumar Mohanty
- Subodha Pattanaik
- Madhusudan Das
- Dillip Mishra
- Pradeepta Sundaray
As per the opinion formed in the above meeting a press conference was organized at Red Cross Bhawan, on 5th April 2009, where apart from sharing the above press release with media persons, a brief discussion was held regarding the current political development in the state in the context of the ensuing election and its long term repercussion towards the overall peace and harmony of the state. That apart some other matters like the statement of account of Gandhi Katha, DVD of Gandhi Katha etc were discussed.
In the light of the challanges ahead it was unanimously decided to organize a two day convention of OSSA towards the end of this month to discuss in details all the major issues generated in the OSSA process and to prepare a vibrant action plan for future keeping in view the challenges to peace and harmony of the state in a long term perspective.
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