People of Odisha are an “Icon of Unity and Beacon of Hope”
The National Council of Churches in India rejoices over the decision of the POSCO (Pohang Steel Company) Korean Mining Company to withdraw from the lands of Odisha and asking the State to give back the lands to the Tribals and Adivasis from whom the lands were taken. This was officially announced and confirmed through a media statement by Shri Devi Prashad Mishra, the Honorable Minister for Industry, Government of Odisha.
The resilient struggle of the people has borne fruit. It is a victory of not only the people of Odisha but also of all Peasants, Fisher-folks, Forest-dwellers engaged in movements to save their land, life and livelihood. Over a decade, the people of Odisha were struggling to redeem their land and life from the forces of corporate empire. They demonstrated their opposition through various Gandhian style non-violent means such as hugging the scorching sandy earth while facing the onslaughts of the authoritative powers.
The erstwhile NCCI Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation, initiated and facilitated a few ‘solidarity visits’ with several of its member churches and member organizations and accompanied the villagers by joining their campaigns nationally and internationally.
NCCI applauds the people for persevering in their struggle, which has now ended in victory. It is indeed David’s victory against Goliath. Though the forces of empire were strong and powerful, they could not overcome the determination of the people. Indeed today, the People of Odisha stand tall as an icon of unity and beacon of hope to the rest of the country and all the world.
NCCI takes this opportunity to thank the people who, through their cross-like suffering, have inspired the NCCI and its members to find newer ways of addressing challenges in society. A special word of thanks to POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) for its commitment and courage in leading the people’s movements.
We, the NCCI, express our gratitude to the Member Churches for their solidarity, support,and accompaniment in various ways to the cause of the people of Odisha. Our gratitude also goes to the individuals, organizations and peoples movements who have supported the movement and stood by the people at the time of their struggles.
A special word of thanks to the National Council of Churches in Korea for their inland campaign with the Churches and with the POSCO Company in South Korea, and also for sending a fact-finding team to Odisha to get hands-on information and to study the ground zero reality.
We also record our appreciation to the World Council of Churches, Christian Conference of Asia, Oikotree, Church of Canada and other international churches and ecumenical movements for their participation in the campaign and for the letters sent by them to their respective Governments and to POSCO Company, and letters of encouragement to the people of Odisha.
Once gain it is proved that “the earth is Lord’s…” (Psalm 24:1) and Justice to the Poor and Voiceless is affirmed.
|Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad
|Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar
Executive Secretary, Unity and Mission
National Council of Churches in India