Saturday, April 7, 2007

Stir for separate 'Kosala' state intensifies

The New Indian Express, April 02, 2007

BHUBANESWAR: Demand for a separate Kosala state has intensified further with hundreds of agitators holding mass demonstration in the capital city even as the state celebrated its 72nd formation day on Sunday.

About 1,000 activists of the Koshali Ekata Manch (KEM), an organisation that wants a separate state comprising 11 of Orissa's 30 districts, demonstrated in front of the residence of Governor Rameshwar Thakur on Sunday shouting slogans.

The team led by KEM chief Pramod Mishra submitted a memorandum to the governor demanding statehood and inclusion of Koshali language in the 8th schedule of the Indian constitution. He threatened to intensify the agitation if the government did not meet their demands.

For the past 15 years, several other organisations too have been seeking a separate state comprising the backward districts of Bargarh, Bolangir, Boudh, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Koraput, Nuapada, Sambalpur, Subarnapur and Sundergarh in western Orissa.

Known as the Kosala region, these districts have often been in the news for sale of children, death due to malnutrition and high infant mortality rate.

Though the backwardness of the region has aroused national and international concern over the years, the situation has mainly remained unchanged.

Although leaders of various political parties are opposed to the idea of a separate Kosala state, the demand has found sympathy among the people of the region.

KEM activists across western Orissa observed April 1 as a protest day, Mishra said.

Similarly, people from the region who are living in New Delhi also observed the day as a black day, he added.

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