Kosal state movement
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People of the "Kosal region" of India are demanding a politically separate Kosal state or Paschimanchal from Orissa. Political parties, intelligentsia and various social organisations have banded together to rally popular support, frequently capturing news headlines of both state and national print and visual media. Support is widespread, as public protests and submission of memorandums to the government are reported in Athamallick, Balangir, Bargarh, Boudh, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi,l Nuapada, Sambalpur, Sonepur, and Sundargarh.
- 1 Origin of the separate statehood demand
- 2 Reasons for the demand of a separate Kosal State
- 3 Early developments on Kosal state
- 4 Developments between 2005 and 2009: demand by Kosal Kranti Dal and other organisations
- 5 Activities in 2010
- 6 Protest against observation of Utkal divas, and continuous neglect and exploitation
- 7 Recent Activities
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Origin of the separate statehood demand
The demand for the Kosal state in Orissa has risen mostly because of the prolonged underdevelopment and backwardness of this region. The state government is not doing enough for the development of Koshal region, although this area is full of mineral and natural resources. In the case of Orissa, the process of economic growth has been regionally lopsided during the last 50 years.
The coastal region has benefited mostly from the economic policies pursued by the state, the Kosal region remains neglected, marginalised, and deprived WODC : Western Orissa Development Council. The regional imbalances have been to such an extent that news of starvation, child-selling for rice, large-scale illiteracy, malnutrition, distressed out-migration, etc., are normal occurrences in the Koshal region.
To rectify the regional imbalance between coastal Orissa and Koshal region, Orissa Government has established a Western Orissa Development Council (WODC). However, the budget allotted to this council is a small fraction of the total budget of Orissa. With this small fraction of budget a large Koshal region will never develop like coastal Orissa. Similarly politics is being played for KBK and WODC headquarters. KBK and WODC headquarters are located in the state capital Bhubaneswar, instead of locating these headquarters in Koshal region.
Reasons for the demand of a separate Kosal State
As listed in the links an extensive research on these issues has been carried out.Regional Imbalance of Western Orissa in Brief | Kosal. Following are some of the reasons for the demand of a separate Kosal state.
The incidence of chronic poverty in Kosal coupled with government failures in addressing its rising trends has been the most important factor for the demand for a separate state in Orissa. Majority of Kosli people lacked minimum purchasing power to meet even square meals per day. In the infamous backward districts of Kosal region (Boudh, Sonepur, Balangir, Nuapada, and Kalahandi) more than 60% persons live below the poverty line. Sonepur, Balangir, Nuapada, and Kalahandi are also part of Kalahandi Balangir Koraput (KBK) area famous for deaths due to hunger and poverty. Recurrent droughts, inadequate irrigation, skewed land distribution, and a rigged market all together have made Kosal a ‘hunger belt’ in Orissa over the half century since Independence. The results have been a human-disaster including large-scale starvation deaths, child selling, out-migration and malnourishments serialised by various Indian as well as international newspapers.
Industrialization and environmental degradation
Most of the farmers of Kosal region are marginal and uneducated farmers with small land holdings. So, it is easy for the industries to grab the land as small farmers are always eager to sell their land because of money without understanding the long term consequences. With the problems faced in land acquisition in Coastal Orissa many new industries are starting in Jharsuguda region.
Kosal region is largely suffering due to mining and environmental degradation, but world class institutions are established in Coastal Orissa instead of Kosal region. Mining, tribal displacement and environmental degradation are caused by Vedanta group in Kalahandi but world class Vedanta University is being established in Puri instead of Kalahandi. Similarly POSCO is given mining in Sundergarh but one of the largest steel plant by POSCO is coming in Paradip instead of Sundergarh. Belpahar, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur and Brajarajnagar region is suffering due to coal mining, but state Govt. has ignored this region and pursued the coal ministry to establish Medical College in Talcher region. It is reported that farmers from more than eight district of Kosal region depend on the water of Hirakud resorvoir. There is a growing anger among the farmers of this are as the industries are using a huge amount of water from the Hirakud resorvoir. Frequently, farmers are also protesting saying "Hirakud dam is for irrigation, not industry".
Less access to health services
There is only one Government medical college (VSS medical college) in Kosal region. The hospital is lifeline for the people of Athmallik, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Bargarh, Boudh, Balangir, Sonepur, Deogarh, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Sundargarh region. Even people from four neighbouring districts of Chhattisgarh are dependent.
Distinction of Kosli language
The Kosli language/version of Odia is spoken in Kosal,. Kosli is not yet recognised by the state or union governments. This language was first named as "KOSLI" by Kosal ratna late Pandit Prayag Dutta Joshi and he declared that
"ପୁନଃ ପୁନଃ ଘୋସୟାମୀ ପ୍ରସୃନ୍ବନ୍ତୁ ମନିସିଣଃ ସ୍ଵତନ୍ତ୍ର କୋସଲୀ ଭାସା ନୋପ ଭାସା କଦାଚନ"
(Punah punah ghosayami Prasrunwantu manishina, Swatantraa Kosli bhasa, Nopa bhasa kadachana)
However, Oriya language expert feels that Kosli is a separate language and it is not a dialect of Oriya. Kosli has its unique grammar and epic like Mahabharata and Ramayan etc. are available in this language. For instance, noted litterateur, translator and scholar Hemachandra Acharya is popularly known as the Balmiki of Kosli literature for his translation of The Ramayana into Kosli. Information on Grammar book like "Samalpuri kosali byākaraṇa" by Nilamadhab Panigrahi is available on the web. Also, many magazines and periodicals are available in Kosli language.
Though some people are advocating for Separate Kosal state on the basis of language which is quiet different from coastal region Orissa but termed as Oriya by the local people since ages. But some of the population of Western Orissa does not wants to lose their identity as Oriya and termed themselves as Kosali, even though there is historical significance to Koshal or Koshali race related to Western Orissa. As per Indian history Koshal is Awadh region of UP and western region of Bihar and Dakhin Kosal is Chhattisgarh state with ancient Sripur as Capital. As per linguistic division Kosali term is used for eastern Hindi language group which includes language of Eastern UP, western Bihar and Chhattisgarhi. But Historian now opine that, since no other parts of the erstwhile Kosal are claiming themselves as Kosal or Koshalanchal, the dakshin Kosal region in history & the present political Western Orissa can be accepted as Koshal.So if Koshali is a term used for Eastern Hindi Language, which historian opine that Pashimanchal of Odisha is Koshal? we cannot term Sundergarh,Kalahandi as Koshal as because for some time kings of Dakhin Koshal have rules these places. Also Kalinga & Utkal Kings have also ruled these two Districts for many years.
Early developments on Kosal state
It is said that the demand of a separate Kosal state is more than three decades old.[who?] The demand was raised by many politicians like RN Singh Deo, former CM of Odisha. Renowned Lawyer of Supreme Court Shree Prem Ram Dubey was first person to feel the Need of Kosal and submitted a memorandum to President of India. Local parties from Jharkhand claimed over inclusion of Sambalpur and Sundergarh District into Jharkhand. The Kosal Sammelani (Earlier group formed by Shree Prem Ram Dubey) urged the state and union government not to enter into any negotiation with any claimant for the transfer of any part of proposed Kosal state Mr Dubey asserted that while Punjab has only 46,000 km2, Kosal region having 75,000 sq. km and a population of one crore still was not provided statehood. He had also published the first newspaper for the Kosal state "Kosal Khabar". He also constituted the "Kosal Sena". He authored a book Hame Kosli Hamar Bhasa Kosli. and "Why Kosal State". His work for the upliftment of hundreds of bidi workers in the Kosal region is noteworthy. This was a part of work done by Shri PR Dubey's Kosal Party for civil welfare. All bidi workers were given separate identity cards at the cost of the Kosal Party and a meeting was held on each Saturday for solving and addressing their grievances. In 'Kosal Khabar' he propounded the Solutions to carve a separate state to end the discriminations by coastal people on the Kosalites. He was spearhead in most of the protest programmes. It was independently supported by former BJP MLA Balgopal Mishra though the State and Central units of the party never supported it publicly. As reported in "The Indian Express" the then Orissa PCC president Hemananda Biswal had strongly opposed the demand of a separate Kosal state. Addressing the media persons he told in Bhubaneswar that, "the Congress party is committed to the establishment of the Western Orissa Development Council (WODC) and the Bill in this connection is pending before the legislature". Balgopal Mishra reacted to it saying "there is a growing demand for a separate state in Kosal; it was regrettable that the newly elected MP and some legislators of Bolangir district had failed to see the writing on the wall". Mr. Mishra is famous for his `Kosal Mukti Rath' to generate public opinion in favour of his demand. He generated a lot of public support for a separate Kosal state despite a stiff opposition from the ruling party. Sapan Mishra of Sambalpur, along with some dedicated youth chalked out a rout-map for 'Kosal Mukti Rath'traversing the length & breadth of Kosal region, which ultimately made it a mass movement from a class movement. Later 'Kosal Rayej Kriyanusthan Committee' was formed which also fought Orissa State Assembly & Lok Sabha Election for the cause.
In an interview to The Hindu Mishra said: "The Kosal region will include at least 10 districts of western Orissa and adjoining areas that continue to be extremely backward and poverty-stricken. These are Bolangir, Nuapada, Sonepur, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Jharsugudha, Devgarh, Kalahandi Sundergarh, Bodh, Dhenkanal. "Though British imperialism has ended, we are still under coastal colonisation he said". Also, he arugued that Kosal region has been thoroughly discriminated as compared to the coast belt. All the development had taken place in the coastal region and it is politicians from that side who have dominated the political scene of the State. While here, were have been deprived and oppressed," he said in the interview.
In 2004 the then Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani told reporters in Balangir that India could consider the demand for creation of a separate Kosal state only if the Orissa Assembly passed a resolution in this regard claiming "a consensus is needed in this matter".
Developments between 2005 and 2009: demand by Kosal Kranti Dal and other organisations
Various political parties are demanding the formation of a new Kosal state comprising the most backward districts of Kosal. In particular, political parties and organisations like Kosal Kranti Dal, Koshli Ekta Manch, Kosal Party, Orissa Sanskrutika Samaj, Kosal Rajya Sangharsha Samiti, Hirakhanda Mukti Morcha, Kosal Mukti Morcha, Veer Surendra Sai Manch and All Kosal Students Union (AKSU) are spearheading the separate Kosal state demand.
For the first time a sitting MP from the Indian National Congress party (Sambalpur) and former minister Shri Amarnath Pradhan warned that "If the State Government continued to neglect Kosal then we will not hesitate to demand a separate state".
In a recent development,[when?] Sambalpur University Student Union, Rajendra College Balangir Student Union and Balangir Women's College Union have supported demands for a separate Koshal state. In addition, the bar associations in Sambalpur and Balangir have demanded the formation of a separate Koshal state. Frequently, bandhs [clarification needed] are observed in various places of Koshal region demanding a Koshal state. Activists have distributed maps of the proposed Koshal state and torn up the Orissa map as a symbolic declaration of separation from Orissa.
On 23 December 2009 thousands of members of the Kosal Kranti Dal (KKD) staged a demonstration near the Orissa assembly building. The separatist supporters marched on the main street of the capital city Bhubaneswar. Later they gathered to hear dozens of leaders speak about the apathy of the state and central governments towards Kosal. According to The Statesman, the protest dharna [clarification needed] was led by the KKD's president, Pramod K Mishra; other leaders of the party addressed the protestors exhorting them to launch a mass movement for separate statehood. The KKD's head Pramod Mishra said "We have separate Kosali language. Our culture and traditions are different. Our regions are the poorest in India despite having huge mineral and forest wealth. Only a separate Kosal state can improve the condition of our people".
On 27 December 2009, The Pioneer published an article claiming that senior BJD leader and Minister AU Singh Deo was against demands for a Kosal state. Addressing the BJD foundation day in Bhubaneswar, Singh Deo said the demand for a Kosal State gained momentum as the past Congress Governments had neglected the interests of Kosal. "They had only allotted Rs 1 crore for the Kosal region’s development. But our BJD Government gave Rs 50 crore for the first time to the Western Orissa Development Council (WODC) and then enhanced it to Rs 100 crore," he said.
Activities in 2010
After this the members of All Kosal Students' union led by convener Dolamani Pradhan held a demonstration before the Collectorate in Balangir town protesting against the anti-Kosal remark by AU Singh Deo, Western Orissa Development Council (WODC)'s chairman Prof. Niranjan Panda and Chief Minister of Orissa Naveen Patnaik and later burnt their effigies.
As reported by IANS, the rail services in Orissa were affected on 10 January 2010 (Sunday) as activists of Kosal Kranti Dal blocked the tracks to press the demand for a separate Kosal state. Hundreds of activists blocked rail tracks at many places of western Orissa, including at Balangir, Bargarh, Boinda, Rourkela and Kesinga, as part of their agitation. Similar agitations are also reported from Sambalpur and Jharsuguda where Kosal activists demanded a "separate state any cost". It was also reported that more than hundred of protestors courted arrest at Balangir town and the party leader of Kosal Kranti Dal Mr. Pramod Mishra said they will hold more such agitations in the coming days. Pramod Mishra also said that "We were forced to merge with Orissa in 1948. What this region has got after 60 years of merger? Only acute poverty and backwardness. On Tuesday, 19 January 2010 The Pioneer BBSR edition reported about the allegation of CPI(M) State secretary Janardan Pati that the indifference on the parts of the two main political parties in the State, the BJD and the Congress, over the issue is encouraging the demands of separate states. It was reported that members of the Kosal Kranti Dal and All Kosal Students’ Union, held Rasta Roko at different places on the Bargarh-Borigumma section of National Highway-201 and at Puintala on the Khurda-Balangir section of NH-224 for three hours from 10 am to 1 pm on Sunday (14 February 2010) for demanding a separate Kosal State. The Kosali Ekta Manch staged a road blockade on National highway-201 in Bhawanipatna; it also demanded a Central University in Kalahandi, and appointment of Shiksha Sahayaks as a district cadre and a by-pass road in the district.
Protest against observation of Utkal divas, and continuous neglect and exploitation
Members of the Kosal Kranti Dal (KKD) and people of western Orissa led by the Balangir district president Bharat Prusti and general secretary of the All Kosal Students’ Union Mr. Dolamani Pradhan, protested against the "continuous neglect and exploitation" by the Orissa government and demanded formation of a separate Kosal State. The demonstrator tore the map of Orissa and burned a CD containing the song Bande Utkal Janani. the Kosal Kranti Dal (KKD) also organised a massive rally and meeting which was attended by delegates from eleven districts of western Orissa. The president of KKD Pramod Mishra informed that the people have gathered here to protest against their continuous exploitation by the successive Governments at Bhubaneswar. He further said that Kosli, not Oriya is our mother tongue as well as language of the Kosal region.
Led by the Kosal Kranti Dal and the Koshal State Coordination Committee (KSCC) it has been decided that 26th day of August on every year will be observed as Kosal Bandh Day. From 2012 until 2015, the same is being observed in the Kosal region for demanding of a new separate state. All the 10 districts take part in the Bandh to felicitate the activists for a successful execution of the movement.
On 26 August 2013, a 12-hour Kosal Bandh was observed after a call given by the Koshal State Co-ordination Committee (KSCC) demanding separate Koshal state comprising 10 districts of the western region. Normal life was paralysed in Sambalpur as rail and road communications, shops and offices remained close on the day. At a meeting held in Balangir on 10 August 2013 it was decided that there would be a Bandh on 26 August 2013 in western Odisha.
One day shutdown evoked large response in the districts of Sambalpur, Subarnapur, Nuapara, Bargarh, Boudh, Jharsuguda and Bolangir. Shops, business establishment, educational institutions such as colleges, schools, remained closed while peoples of all walks of life took out rallies and staged demonstrations at many places. They also held picketing before different central and state government offices, banks and other financial institutions.
Agitators, including locals obstructed trains, highways, as result passengers train remained stranded. Both government and private buses remain off the road. Fuel stations, cinema halls, malls and other commercial center remained closed in the district. Kosal Kranti Dal (KKD), Kosal Raijya Kriyanushtan Committee, Kosal Sena, Kosal Parishad had jointly given a call for bandh in the region over the demand of formation of a separate state.
On 26 August 2014, the Kosal region led by Kosal Kranti Dal successfully conducted a strike for the demand of a separate state. The movement was supported by all the districts comprising the Kosal region. The Kosal coordination committee organized a motor cycle rally from Samaleswari temple of Bargarh town on 24 August 2014 to create awareness among locals regarding the demand of a separate state and also called for a western Odisha bandh to be observed on 26 August 2014. 
On 26 August 2015, like the previous bandh on the same day, a year back, Western Odisha observed a 12-hour bandh in response to a call given by the Koshal State Coordination Committee (KSCC), which was supported by more than 10 districts comprising the Kosal region. On Saturday activists took out a motorbike rally at Bargarh from Samalei Temple in the city through Bheden and Chiplima before culminating at the Maa Samalei Temple in Sambalpur to sensitize people for separate state.
The bandh had an effect in Bolangir, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Rourkela, Bargarh, Deogarh, Subarnapur, Nuapada and Kalahandi. In Sundargarh, shops, government and private establishments, schools and colleges remained closed while movement of traffic including the loaded dumpers and trucks were disrupted in this mineral rich district.
The Balangir Wing of Koshal State Coordination Committee (KSCC) took out a motorcycle rally in the town on Monday to aware the people to participate in the bandh over separate Kosal State demand. Gopalji Panigrahi of Balangir Action Committee said the fight for Kosal State will continue till the demand is fulfilled by the Government. 
Notably, the Koshal State Coordination Committee comprising representatives of organisations in 10 districts has called a 12-hour bandh in Western Odisha on 26 August 2016 demanding separate State status for the Koshal region. Western Odisha bandh called by Koshal State Co-ordination Committee (KSCC) on 26 August 2016, Friday demanding separate statehood evoked mixed response in the region. It had no impact in Sambalpur while the shutdown was felt in Balangir, Bargarh, Sonepur, Boudh, Nuapada and Jharsuguda districts. The bandh was partial in Deogarh.In Sambalpur, markets, schools and colleges, banks, courts, government offices, shops and business establishments remained opened. The vehicular movement was also normal in the Sambalpur town despite the bandh call. Though KSCC appealed to the people to observe bandh on 26 August over separate statehood, many organisations of Sambalpur including Hirakhand Samukhya, Sambalpur District Bar Association, Sambalpuri Bhasha Sanskruti Parishad and Bharati Samaj had requested people not to take part in the bandh.
The dawn-to-dusk shutdown observed by Koshal Kranti Dal (KKD) on Friday evoked partial response in Sundargarh district even as normal life was hit amid disruption in services of transport vehicles.
Normal life was hit due to the bandh call in Balangir. Koshal activists picketed in different parts of the town. The bandh was also total in Kantabanji, Titilagarh, Patnagarh, Bangomunda, Sindhekela, Chudapali, Saintala, Belpada, Turekela, Muribahal area of Balangir district.
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- Demand for Koshal State gains momentum in Orissa
- History of Kosal state
- Website on Kosal
- Western Orissa and The Demand of Separate State of Kosal
- Rath stumbles on Koshal bump
- List of proposed states in India
- Cry for Kosal