| Jitu Jakesia (centre) with his mother and sister.
Telegraph picture |
● Jitu Jakesia is first matriculate from Dongria Kondh tribe
● Jakesia believes education is key to tribal
● Jakesia was disillusioned with political leaders and organisations
● Jakesia believes Kalahandi has come a long way by riding the industrial wave
● Jakesia attended primary school in Mulikhol, five kilometres from his village
● Jakesia attended high school in Muniguda
● Learnt English during high school
at missionary hostel
● Wants to create awareness about tribal customs
Bhubaneswar, July 23: From the remote Dongria Kondh village in Sakata to the capital’s Aryan School of Management Information and Technology, Jitu Jakesia has come a long way.
The first from the Dongria Kondh tribe to clear the Class X board examination, the firebrand tribal leader from Muniguda block in Jakesia, is now concentrating on his studies.
He believes that without education, the Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) cannot succeed in its mission.
Representing his community before the joint committee of the ministry of environment and forests and ministry of tribal affairs, Jakesia put forward the problems faced by the Dongria community and what should be done to remedy them as per the provisions of the Forest Rights Act.
Jakesia first went to a primary school in Mulikhol, five km away from his village. Then he went to a high school in Dangasaroda village under Chandrapur block in Rayagada district.
This area is now a Naxal-infested region.
“After passing the matriculation examination, I started began attending high school in Muniguda College. I pursued studies in the Arts stream. I completed my graduation from the same college. During my three years in college, I worked as an activist, fighting against industrialisation. I thought that this would make a difference, as I was inspired by NGOs and political parties,” he said.
Jakesia was, however, disillusioned by political parties and voluntary organisations.
“At the end of the day, resources really matter. During my student days, I received no help from voluntary organisation or political party. The members of my family were alcoholics. All these problems forced me to focus on my career as a student and not an activist. I ended up continuing my studies,” he said.
Jakesia said that he spent his days in high school in a missionary hostel. “That’s where I learnt to speak in English among other things.”
Regarding industrialisation and its effects on Niyamgiri, Jakesia said: “I realised that for bauxite excavation, only the surface level of the rock is used.
This is unlike iron ore and coal mining, where one has to go below the surface. Thus, the process is fairly smooth. You will be surprised to know that puja offered to Niyam Raja was never performed there. Now, after the spread of awareness, the puja is performed on top of the hill.”
He said that there was a time when no one was aware of Niyamgiri.
“If you search on the internet now, you will find thousands of results. The industrial development has given Kalahandi many things. It’s quite visible in the economy and development. So, I do not think development is unnecessary’’ he told The Telegraph.
During submission of his grievances regarding the Forest Rights Act, Jakesia had said: “The revenue officials have made many blunders by marketing forest land as hill land.”
There are many instances where there is no scope for individuals or communities to derive benefits from the Act, as the officials don’t understand the problem.
With so many loopholes, requisite amendments should be made, Jakesia had told the joint committee.