For more than a decade now, these adivasis are waging a historic battle against the Indian State. The battle is to save Niyamgiri — their sole provider, their god — from becoming a tamed object of appetite for hungry corporations. As Kishan Patnaik rightly said, this is a fight to save the people, and also the Earth, from being pushed into slavery. This is a fight for lives and livelihoods, a fight to safeguard human dignity and possibilities.
But the adivasis are not alone. They too have joined the movement to protect the Niyamgiri Mountains from the Indian State. Despite coming from today’s consumerist society, they do epitomize hope for humanism and humanitarian values. They are committed to a cause.
In utter violation of the Supreme Court directive, the Odisha government decided to hold gram sabhas only in 12 villages in Niyamgiri. However, the unanimous verdict pronounced by these 12 villages is enough to shake ‘democracy’ out of its slumber. The people’s verdict in Niyamgiri also gives a new direction to the struggles of the oppressed and deprived country-wide in safeguarding their mother lands. The fact that not a single person in all the 12 gram sabhas agreed to the State’s proposal for mining on Niyamgiri should be enough to shove the State into self-assessment. But, even after six decades of Independence, that the adivasis still do not expect anything from the State does speak volumes of the terrible state-of-the-affairs. Even after pronouncing such a resolute verdict, adivasis still do not trust the Indian State. Because they know that so long as there is corporate hunger for bauxite, they have to keep the fight on.