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Cultural wars by conservatives to cover up economic exploitation

Posted by samathain on February 11, 2009

Samatha : This article discusses how the conservative machinery worked to mislead workers to vote against their own interests in the name of cultural and family values, not recognizing the gradual economic exploitation. Rich became extremely rich and the poor got only poorer. When this situation acquires a critical mass, you will have less people who can afford the goods produced by the very efficient manufacturers. Economy crumbles as it has happened in the last few months all over the world. Theory that everybody is just buyer or seller in terms of market ignores the fact that society is about people earning decent living standards. Even though below article is about conservatism by american republican party, it sheds lots of insight in to what’s happening in India too. Right wing political parties in india have also been using similar strategies. Recommended for everyone interested in dalit welfare, as dalits form a major chunk of the poor.

Also read below article:
Little Modi’s Corporate Safari

Source: Community Knowledge Net


Planning the Counterattack
Against Radical Conservatism

Jerry Kloby
(Institute for Community Studies, Montclair, New Jersey)
The Great Divide: Retro vs. Metro America, by John Sperling, Suzanne Helburn,
Samuel George, John Morris and Carl Hunt. Sausalito, CA: PoliPointPress,
2004. 296 pp. $19.95 (paper). ISBN: 0–976021–0–0.
What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America,
by Thomas Frank. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2004. 320
pp. $24.00 (cloth). ISBN: 0–8050–7339–6. $14.00 (paper). ISBN:
0–8050–7774–X.
Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America, by Robert Reich. New
York: Knopf, 2004. 272 pp. $24.00 (cloth). ISBN: 1–4000–4221–6. $14.00
(paper). ISBN: 1–4000–7660–9.


Watching the best sellers list can be an interesting pastime. Over the
past few years the non-fiction category has become a bit like a horse
race. Conservatives have been producing a steady stream of books telling
Americans about the 100 people who are “screwing up” their country
and that we need to “be delivered” from the treasonous evils of liberalism.
Liberals and progressives have landed quite a few counterpunches
against these “lying liars” of the “culture wars.” Some of the leftish books
rise above the fray. They go beyond simply countering the distortions
made by the right wing to offering thought-provoking analysis of the
recent rise of the political right in the United States, and, in some cases,
proposing a strategy for corrective action. This essay examines three such
books, all of which shed some light on why the right has been so successful
and offer some ideas for a strategic counteroffensive.

Easily the most impressive of the three, at least in terms of research
and visual presentation, is The Great Divide authored by John Sperling
et al. Sperling is probably best known as the founder of the University
of Phoenix, which provides college degrees via internet-based courses.
Sperling has his hand in a number of other businesses as well, and was
named one of the top twenty-five entrepreneurs of the past twenty-five
years by Inc. magazine.
Robert Reich’s Reason is a more subdued and readable book that does
not overwhelm the reader. Reich has held numerous positions in the
federal government including secretary of labor under President Clinton.
He has authored ten books including the well-known I’ll Be Short: Essentials
for a Decent Working Society
(2002).
Thomas Frank, the author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? is not a businessman
or a former high-ranking government official. He is a journalist,
the founding editor of The Baffler (a magazine of cultural criticism established
in 1988), the author of One Market Under God, a frequent contributor to
The Nation, Harper’s, and Le Monde diplomatique, and a native of Kansas.

The books reflect their author’s biographies. The Great Divide is an oversized,
glossy, well-financed publication, by a team of writers and researchers.
In style and substance it reflects its progressive-minded business roots.
Reich’s book, Reason, is much more modest. It is written in the friendly,
engaging style of an experienced politician who has a knack for making
you feel that he is talking directly to you, not down at you. Frank’s book
makes you appreciate journalists – something that is hard to do these
days. He brings the reader’s attention to Kansas’s progressive roots, while
asking: what happened to Kansas that moved it from those progressive
roots to a place where the majority consistently votes against its class
interests? His analysis is witty, deep, and clearly focused on the class
divisions that exist in the United States, divisions that Sperling et al.,
and Reich, to some extent, gloss over.
The authors all have concerns about the direction that the United
States is headed and, for most of them, those concerns include questions
about the future of the Democratic Party. Not since Nixon’s defeat of
McGovern have the Democrats been forced to reflect so much on who
they are and where they want to go.
The Great Divide argues that American politics can best be analyzed by
seeing the United States as a divided nation. One is traditional, rooted
in the past – Retro. The other is modern and focused on the future –
Metro. Retro America’s chief characteristics include: religiosity, social
conservatism, an economic base of extraction industries, agriculture, nondurable
goods manufacturing, military installations, and a commitment
to the Republican Party. Its 25 states encompass 66 percent of the land
mass and 35 percent of the population.The term is from Ken Cook, director of the Environmental Working Group. See
Egan (2004).
Metro America, on the other hand, is loosely held together by a common
interest in promoting economic modernity and by shared cultural
values marked by religious moderation, vibrant popular cultures, a tolerance
of differences of class, ethnicity, tastes, and sexual orientation,
and a tendency to vote Democratic. Metro America has 34 percent of
the land mass and 65 percent of the population – 70 percent of the
metropolitan population.
Sperling and his colleagues claim that “culture and economics are the
major elements that determine voting behavior and, in turn, shape the
ideology and organization of the Republican and Democratic Parties”
(p. xvii). However, to a large extent they view the geographic distribution
of political power as a determining factor in shaping the electorate and
the two major parties.
Retro America is the America favored by the Republican Party and,
according to Sperling et al., Retro America is on the dole. What the
authors term “retronomics” is supported by two pillars: 1) the extraction
industries (oil, gas, mining and forestry) and agriculture, and 2) national
political power based on the alliance between the Southern, Prairie, and
Rocky Mountain states. The political alliance ensures a flow of subsidies
for the extraction industries and the siting of federal facilities – military
bases, shipyards, atomic energy, and military testing grounds. As a result
of this alliance, Retro America received US$ 800 billion more in federal
payments than it paid in taxes for the years 1991 to 2000. Conversely,
the 23 Metro states paid US$ 1.4 trillion more in taxes than they received
back from the federal government. In other words, Retro America enjoyed
an advantage of US$ 2.2 trillion over Metro America. More to the point,
perhaps, is that the excess in spending compared to tax receipts is not
due to higher federal assistance to the poor (with the exception of New
Mexico), but to the greater subsidies paid to the extraction industries
(oil, mining, lumber) and agriculture.
Many metro states pay much more in federal taxes than they receive
back from the federal government. For example, from 1991 to 2001,
New Jersey paid an excess of US$ 265.4 billion, California paid US$
253.5 billion over what it received in subsidies, Illinois paid US$ 252.7
billion more, and New York paid US$ 242.2 billion. Per family, the
biggest losers are Connecticut (US$ 116,179), New Jersey (US$ 97,559)
and Nevada (US$ 67,125). Ironically, the blue states are subsidizing Retro
America, leading some to refer to the Retro states as the “red ink”
states.
Overall, only 13 percent of those in Congress are minorities, compared to 31 percent
of the population at large.
The Great Divide is a very useful resource for documenting some telling
differences between the Republican and Democratic Parties in terms of
their representativeness. For instance, of the 278 Republicans in the 108th
Congress, 252 were male and just 26 female. In other words, only 9.4
percent of the Republicans in Congress are female, compared to18.4
percent of Democrats. In addition, 98.6 percent of Republicans are white,
compared to 79.1 percent of Democrats.2
Sperling et al., find much of the conservatism of Retro America rooted
in its Christian fundamentalist base – a base that has a significant hold
on the country at large. They cite an ABC News poll that found 60
percent of American adults believe the Bible is literally true, including
its story of the world being created in six days, and a Pew poll finding
that 36 percent believe God gave Israel to the Jews and “the state of
Israel is a fulfillment of the biblical prophecy about the second coming
of Jesus.” The fundamentalists’ faith in their beliefs leads to inflexibility.
In the words of the authors: “. . . there is arrogance and a false sense
of superiority because the Bible tells humans that they are to have dominion
over all the plants and the animals and are empowered to do with
them what they will” (pp. 74–74 [??AU: check page range]).
Reading The Great Divide, one can’t help but wonder why the Democrats
did not take advantage of Bush’s poor performance record in his home
state. For example, Texas has the dirtiest air in the country, it ranks
forty-seventh in water quality, and has the seventh highest rate of release
of toxic industrial byproducts. Texas also has the greatest proportion,
nearly 25 percent, of residents without health insurance coverage (US
Census Bureau 2004:25).
The State’s Republican Party platform itself might have been enough
to deter many voters from pulling the lever for George W. Among the
planks in the state platform are:
• Nullify the separation of Church and State.
• The Census Bureau should only determine [sic] the number of people
in a dwelling.
• Repeal the 16th amendment authorizing the income tax.
• Oppose the theory of global warming.
• Oppose the Endangered Species Act.
• Repeal the minimum-wage law.
• Replace Social Security with a system of private pensions.
• Oppose women’s right to abortion.
• Abolish the US Department of Education.
• Teachers should be encouraged to teach Creationism, not Darwinian
evolutionary theory or a scientific world view (p. 69).
In terms of political strategy, The Great Divide calls for the Democrats to
present a clear identity. The authors claim that the Republicans have
established themselves as the party of Retro America and the Democrats
must respond by becoming the party of Metro America. In contrast to
the Republican values often expressed as “God, Family, and Flag,” the
Great Divide suggests the Democratic “brand” express the values of
“Inclusion, Science, and Security.” The identity can be promoted by
adopting a strategy that is “future-oriented, fair, and revives our belief
in government as the upholder of the public interests” (p. 236). Such a
strategy, they claim, will solidify the base of the party – union families,
people of color, women, and people of all ethnicities who live in cosmopolitan
areas.
How does one begin the process of establishing national policies based
on the values of Metro America? In answering this The Great Divide is
like one of those instruction manuals that leaves you scratching your
head wondering if you’re missing a few pages. Step one is to elect a
Democrat Congress and step two is to elect a Democratic President.
“Once in control of the House of Representatives, the Presidency, and
we hope, the Senate . . .”
• We must appoint judges who will respect the separation of church
and state and the right of women’s choice.
• Create a fair tax system.
• End corporate welfare, especially in agriculture.
• Preserve and improve Social Security.
• Create a system of universal health care.
• Adopt trade policies that benefit US families and workers worldwide.
• Rationalize defense spending.
• Invest in a sustainable energy future.
• Invest in the future through education and research and development
(pp. 238–242).
And so on. The Great Divide is strong in documenting a major division
in American society on cultural and economic issues and in arguing that
there is a strong geographic connection. However, the authors fail to
provide a clear and detailed strategy for electing progressive Democrats
to Congress and to the presidency. The book needs a discussion of who
will exert the necessary pressure on the Democratic Party to ensure that
it moves in a positive direction rather than continue its endless chase to
an imagined middle ground. The Great Divide does not raise the question
of how such pressure could be generated.
Thomas Frank’s book, What’s the Matter with Kansas? lacks the color
and glitz of The Great Divide but it covers much of the same territory.
Frank focuses on his home state of Kansas in order to explore one of
the central questions of American politics: How do so many people keep
getting their fundamental interests wrong? They keep voting for politicians
who are dismantling the welfare state, cutting taxes on corporations
and the wealthy, eliminating regulations that hold corporations
accountable to the public interest, and accelerating the pace of deindustrialization
and capital flight. Meanwhile, conservatives never deliver
on the issues that won the support of these middle-American voters.
“Abortion is never halted. Affirmative action is never abolished. The culture
industry never cleans up its act” (p. 6).
Frank argues that since the “protests and partying” of the 1960s, conservatives
have been whipping up a backlash that mobilizes voters by
exploiting explosive social issues. The cultural anger is then wedded to
pro-business economic policies. And it is the economic achievements that
are the conservative movement’s “greatest monuments.”
Kansas, like the rest of the Great Plains, has a progressive past. It
gave the country Eugene Debs and Walter Reuther, and helped spawn
the IWW, the UAW, and the Farmer-Labor Party. Social Security,
according to Frank, was “largely a product of the Midwestern mind”
(p. 15). And Kansas was strongly abolitionist in the time leading up to
the Civil War.
The “Great Backlash,” however, took hold in Kansas by the 1990s.
Frank says the push that started Kansas “hurtling down the crevasse of
reaction was provided by Operation Rescue . . .” (p. 91). During the
“Summer of Mercy” in July, 1991, Operation Rescue (a national antiabortion
organization founded in 1986 by Randall Terry) planned civil
disobedience all across Wichita. The city’s abortion clinics reacted to
these plans by closing down for a week when the protests began. In
response, Operation Rescue claimed to have stopped the abortion “industry”
in its tracks. Thousands of anti-abortion activists descended on
Wichita participating in various acts of civil disobedience and a massive
rally in the football stadium at Wichita State University.
The anti-choice activity distracted attention from the nefarious forces
undermining working families and small farmers in Kansas and elsewhere.
In 1996, the misleadingly titled “Freedom to Farm Act” was
adopted. The act effectively terminated certain price supports, opened
all acreage to cultivation, and generally brought a close to the New Deal
system of agriculture regulation (non-recourse loans were ended with
major ramifications for the food industry and the waistlines of Americans)
(Pollin 2003). It also pushed the nation’s remaining farmers into an overproduction
spiral causing prices for corn, wheat, and other crops to fall.
The principal author of the bill was Kansas Senator Pat Roberts.
The drop in prices led to federal government subsidies based on production,
which, in turn, resulted in large farms receiving the biggest
handouts. “In Kansas in 2000 and 2001, such federal handouts were
actually greater than what farmers earned from farming itself ” (p. 65).
The Freedom to Farm Act and lower crop prices were a boon for big
food processing companies such as Archer Daniels Midland, ConAgra,
and Cargill.
Convincing people that it is in their interest to support politicians who
promote economic insecurity for American workers is no easy task. This
difficult undertaking can only be accomplished by a powerful media
apparatus. One of the strong points of What’s the Matter with Kansas? is
Franks’ discussion of the right’s ideological infrastructure.
The conservative propaganda mills (a.k.a. think tanks) are intricately
tied to big business, including some of Kansas’s home-grown corporate
giants. Koch industries, for example, is based in Wichita. It was founded
by Fred Koch, a charter member of the John Birch Society. His billionaire
son Charles founded the Cato Institute in 1977. Another son,
David, ran for vice president as a Libertarian. Koch money props up
the Manhattan Institute, the Heartland Institute, and Citizens for a Sound
Economy. Koch money also supported George W. Bush’s campaigns, as
well as those of conservative Kansas Senator Sam Brownback. In addition,
Koch gives money to the Democratic Leadership council.
Conservatives pretend to be working class, or part of “middle America,”
but they consistently put forth economic policies that erode the wellbeing
of workers. They want Americans to believe that liberalism is all
powerful because it gets conservative lawmakers off the hook. (At the
time of this writing, the approval rating of a very conservative Congress
is an abysmal 33 percent.) (Real Clear Politics 2005). According to Frank,
the Great Backlash is a combination of traditional Republican politicians
and working class Janes and Joes, who signed on to preserve family values.
Although the cultural backlash has been building since the 1960s,
Frank says it has “pretty much been a complete bust . . . traditional gender
roles continue to crumble. Homosexuality is more visible and more
accepted than ever” (p. 121). The conservatives harp on cultural issues
but almost never achieve results on these issues. What they are really after
is cultural turmoil. It helps solidify their base by creating an enemy that
can be targeted – the latte-sipping, Volvo-driving, liberal elite – and
takes attention away from the right’s economic initiatives, which are
undermining working families. The conservatives deny the economic basis
of social class while nurturing a cultural class war. The culture war
generates a fog that disguises the class-based nature of conservative policy
making.
Frank doesn’t seem to have much hope for the Democratic Party. He
is well aware of their corporate ties, and he notes that the Democratic
Leadership Council has been pushing the party to forget blue-collar voters.
They are more interested in courting corporate interests that can
contribute significantly more cash than unions. As mentioned, even the
right-wing Koch Industries give to the DLC.
Frank puts more effort at getting class into the center of the debate,
and he is quite critical of the approach offered by The Great Divide. In
his New York Times review, Frank argues that The Great Divide substitutes
region for class and in doing so the authors neglect the important question
of why low-wage workers in “Retroland” would vote for a system
that only benefits their masters (Frank 2004). Most disheartening, according
to Frank, is Sperling’s recommendation to the Democratic Party that
it present itself as the true party of business and to denounce conservatism
as a superstition that undermines our international competitiveness.
And what does a progressive Democratic Party insider think of all
this? Robert Reich tells us in a friendly, lucid style that has made him
a widely-read author and a popular voice among those hoping to influence
Democratic strategy making. Reich’s ties to the party and to the political
establishment are deep. He served as secretary of labor under President
Clinton and he worked for the Federal Trade Commission under President
Carter. He also worked for Robert Bork in the Justice Department when
Gerald Ford was president.
Reason is a defense of the liberal political philosophy and it serves the
important function of reminding readers of the goals of liberalism and
its claimed accomplishments. The classical liberal ideas that emerged in
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were to improve the well-being
of all people, not just the rich and the privileged. And Reich is a good
spokesperson for these ideals.
Reich is well aware of problems with the economic and political systems
and he takes a number of progressive positions. He points out that
the United States is the only advanced nation that doesn’t have paid
family leave and that more than a third of working parents don’t even
get holidays or sick leave from their employers. He notes that almost
every major bank in New York helped Enron commit fraud and that
corporate malfeasance is harmful to small businesses and investors. He
denounces runaway executive pay as a real scandal. Reich chides the
“Radcons” for concerning themselves with private morality but not the
public morality that leads to corporate wrongdoing or the corrosive
influence of money in politics. Reich says most campaign contributions
amount to legalized bribery and he favors a blind trust system that would
bar candidates from discovering who contributed what.
For Reich, society’s progress has come as a result of the ideas developed
by liberal intellectuals, and not from the labor movement or class
struggle. According to Reich, liberalism “led New Dealers to regulate
banking and clean up Wall Street [and] prompted them to create Social
Security, unemployment insurance and a minimum wage, rather than
resort to European-style socialism” (p. 6). Twice over the last century,
Reich claims, liberals have saved capitalism from its own excesses.
There is much that is appealing in Reich’s book but Reason is clearly
anti-socialist, it makes the labor movement historically invisible, and it
is unequivocally pro-globalization.
Reason is best when it attacks its chief target, radical conservatism.
Reich believes that Radcons hold their beliefs sincerely. They define the
world in terms of good and evil, and there is no compromising with
evil, no negotiating. It must be destroyed. Regardless of whether Radcons
are cynical or sincere, Reich does a good job of poking holes in their
arguments and bringing attention to the right’s ideological infrastructure.
He states: “Radcons have risen by means of a highly efficient, selfreinforcing
system designed to shape public opinion and politics. The
system consists of a steady stream of money from corporate executives,
wealthy ideologues, conservative family foundations, and Radcon media
tycoons . . .” (p. 9). On the other hand, “there are almost no liberal radio
or television personalities . . .” (p. 9).
Indeed, it is the right’s sustained efforts at building ideological propaganda
mills and developing their capacity to influence the established
media and lawmakers that provides one of the most direct answers to
Thomas Frank’s question of why so many people vote against their basic
interests.
Understanding the influence of the right in the mainstream media, as
well as their capacity to develop their own media outlets, is crucial to
understanding the broader ideological questions. Conservatives have built
counter-institutions and alternative professional associations. They have
set up propaganda mills that cultivate and support conservative writers,
that do pseudoscientific research and send out executive summaries, press
releases, and talking points to government officials, conservative talk show
hosts, the media, educational institutions, and on and on. They set up
pseudo-scholarly magazines. They buy radio stations. They get their distorted
word out. The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
reported in 1997 that twelve conservative foundations gave US$ 120 million
to organizations promoting right-wing causes. The comparable figure
for liberal groups was significantly less at just US$ 18.6 million.
Another element of the right’s upsurge is the growth of pundits and
talk-show hosts who promote the Radcon agenda. Rush Limbaugh’s radio
show went national in 1988. Rupert Murdoch owns Fox News, a national
cable TV station commanded by Republican political strategist Roger
Ailes. There is little on the left that is comparable.
Of the nationally syndicated talk shows on 691 stations in the top 120
markets, 86 percent are conservative. The top five radio station owners
broadcast 310 hours of nationally syndicated right-wing talk each week
and just 5 hours of non-conservative talk. The major right-wing propaganda
mills and Republican political committees send their talking points
by e-mail or fax to about 400 right-wing radio hosts. All of the books
reviewed here make note of the forceful presence of right-wing ideological
institutions, but unfortunately none of them offer clear ideas about
how to counter it.
Reich points out that Radcons have been remarkably effective at scapegoating
and their media infrastructure facilitates this finger pointing. But
where Reason is most problematic is when Reich perfunctorily, and without
equivocation, defends globalization in its current corporate-led form.
In fact, Reich suggests that labor’s critique of free trade is another form
of scapegoating (“meanwhile,” Reich says, “some on the left, including
organized labor, want to blame free trade”) (p. 123). He claims that
manufacturing jobs have decreased not just in the USA but in Brazil,
Japan, and China, as though the shift away from manufacturing is the
totality of the problem. And he argues against promoting international
labor and environmental standards because “it makes no sense for the
left to demand that our trade treaties with poor nations include “labor
and environmental standards,” unless such standards are pegged to what
poorer nations can afford. As poorer nations become wealthier, their
workers’ wages and their environmental standards should be expected to
improve” (p. 125).
Reich says if we want to blame anything for the loss of manufacturing
jobs then blame knowledge (talk about shifting attention away from
class!). “Everything is coming from everywhere. And any job that’s even
slightly routine is disappearing from America” (p. 126). Tell that to all
the American workers serving coffee, mopping floors, and taking care of
the elderly. The hypermobility of finance capital is not a problem, from
Reich’s point of view, “it makes perfect economic sense for Americans
to invest all over the world” (p. 138).

Anti-globalists be warned, Reich cries, “you’re on the wrong side of
history . . .you’re not seeing all the new jobs” (p. 128). If this is what
progressive Democrats have to offer, why would the working class throw
its support behind the Democratic Party?
And, although Reich believes the Democrats are too dependent on
corporate contributions and that such contributions amount to legal form
of bribery, he does not hesitate to declare “I always believed it possible
to reform the nation by working within the political system – and still
do” (p. 12). As long at that system doesn’t restrict capital mobility or
redistribute the wealth, “we can’t bridge the widening gap just by transferring
wealth from the have-mores to the have-lesses. Direct redistributions
are politically treacherous” (p. 132). On the other hand, Reich
goes on to talk about how unfair the recent tax cuts are.
Reason has much in common with The Great Divide. They both offer a
liberal perspective that presents liberalism as a forward-looking set of
ideas that are detached from social class. What Reich and Sperling et
al., offer is an enlightened corporate viewpoint that recognizes that lowering
the cost of labor to third-world levels is not the only way to attract
investment and revive economically vulnerable regions of the United
States. The authors recognize the economic and social importance of an
educated public and an efficient infrastructure. And they recognize that
government has the capacity to play a constructive role in developing
both the social and the physical infrastructure. The authors are also
aware that high levels of inequality represent a threat to democracy.
They believe in democracy and they understand the threat that the
extremes of capitalism can present. “A society is different from an economy,”
Reich says, “people aren’t just buyers and sellers in a market.
They’re also citizens engaged in a joint project of improving the wellbeing
of current and future generations” (p. 144).
But Reich and Sperling et al., downplay the power of the corporate
class. They do not call for strong democratic control of the nation’s productive
resources, only improved corporate accountability to stockholders.
They marginalize the role of labor and, although they point out the
strength of the right wing’s ideological infrastructure, they do not offer
a prescription for developing a competing one. Frank’s book suffers some
of the same shortcomings but he, at least, is injecting class much more
forcefully into the discussion.
The arguments presented in all three books are best understood in
the context of two myths that present substantial stumbling blocks to the
development of a broad-based progressive movement. One is the myth
that the conflict of haves and have-nots has been supplanted by a new
cultural divide. This is a myth propagated by right-wing pundits who
rant about America’s culture wars and it is perpetuated by pollsters who
found that most voters in November 2004 were motivated by moral values.
But the term “values” is a very nebulous and subjective term. These
poll results were often interpreted as meaning that voters were motivated
by “family values” (i.e., the kind expressed by conservative Republicans),
but many people value social justice, world peace, corporate responsibility,
and honesty in government. Commentators could just as well say
that these people are also motivated by moral values. When analysis does
not look deeply at the real issues underlying general notions of a new
social divide then it does do more to obscure than to clarify.
The second myth is the need for austerity. It is the belief that the
United States can no longer afford to provide substantial benefits to its
working people. The need for austerity is usually justified by references
to the competitive nature of the global economy.
Neither of these beliefs hold true. For decades worker pay in the
United States has been increasing much more slowly than productivity.
The benefits of this productivity are conveyed upward to the investor
class. Consider the fact that the mean net worth of the richest 1 percent
of Americans grew by nearly US$ 5 million over the past two decades –
from US$ 7.8 million in 1983 to US$ 12.7 million in 2001 (in 2001 dollars).
By contrast, the mean net worth of middle class Americans increased
by less than US$ 15,000, and the net worth of the lowest 40 percent of
Americans decreased by more than US$ 2,000 (Wolff 2004). Consider also,
that in 1989 the richest 1 percent of Americans owned financial assets
(i.e., investment capital) that totaled US$ 2.4 trillion. By 2001 their
financial assets had grown to US$ 6.4 trillion (Kennickell 2003).
Globally, it’s the same story. The richest one percent own more assets
than the lowest 90 percent combined. The 1990s, in spite of economic
growth that added approximately US$ 10 trillion per year to the global
economy, left the number of people living in dire poverty basically
unchanged at more than one billion (Flavin 2002).
Any existing austerity is a surplus austerity. That is to say, it is a product
of social domination not economic underproduction. The policies of
the both the Bush Administration and Congress are clearly promoting
class interests. Federal tax “reforms” enacted since 2001 have resulted
in an average tax cut of US$ 123,592 for the nation’s seven-figure income
earners. There are approximately 250,000 households in the USA with
incomes of over a million dollars, their tax cuts cost the rest of the country
more than US$ 30 billion in 2005 alone. Middle-income households,
on the other hand, received an average tax cut of just US$ 647 (Shapiro
and Friedman 2004).

Likewise, six million workers lost eligibility for overtime pay thanks to
the Bush Administration. New rules regarding overtime pay went into
effect on August 23, 2004. These rules reclassified certain administrative
workers, learned professionals, financial service workers, and even cooks
so that they will no longer be eligible for overtime pay. The reclassification
affects workers who make as little as US$ 24,000 a year (Eisenbrey 2004).
The right wing’s ideological machinery has propagated the belief that
liberalism undermines America’s values. But both conservatives and many
liberal thinkers propagate the myth of austerity. Conservatives have gained
the upper hand by building an extensive ideological infrastructure.
Conservative media outlets blame liberals for a wide variety of social ills
and they have sufficiently confused enough voters to get a critical mass
of them believing that the policies of George W. Bush and his radical
Republican supporters are not made in the interests of a privileged capitalist
class but are made to counter the corrosive effect of liberal dominance
and to restore the collective strength of the US economy in the
context of the new global economy.
Polling data gives us an inkling to how confused many voters are.
During the 2004 election, pollsters found that a majority of the people
who voted for George W. Bush thought he favored the inclusion of labor
and environmental standards in trade agreements, that he was for US
participation in a treaty to ban land mines, that he favored US participation
in a treaty that bans the testing of nuclear weapons, that he was
for US participation in the International Criminal Court, and that he
was for US participation in the Kyoto accords on reducing global warming.
Of course, the president was (when all the qualifiers and exceptions
for the United States are considered) opposed to all of these international
efforts (Program on International Policy Attitudes 2004).
Did the Democrats differ on these issues? Yes, they did. Did they
make it clear? Well apparently they did to their supporters. Kerry voters
were much more likely to have an accurate assessment of his position.
But why were Bush supporters so wrong about their candidate?
Here we once again must return to the failure of the Democrats to wage
ideological warfare. Would it have been so hard to make people aware
of the Texas Republican Party platform described earlier in this essay?
Or to expose the deceptions practiced by the Republican right? The
problem is only partially that the Democrats don’t have the ideological
machinery. The bigger problem may be that they are too similar to the
Republicans when it comes to some core beliefs, especially their deference
to the rule of capital.
This also explains why the Reich and Sperling books almost totally
neglect labor as a force for progressive change. While leftists often harshly
3 See Critical Sociology, vol. 31 no. 3, 2005, for a further discussion of Clawson’s work.
criticize the part played by organized labor in shoring up the power of
capitalism in the United States, they usually hold out some hope that labor
can be a progressive force, as it was in the past. Gapasin and Yates
(2005), in their recent discussion of the state of labor, say unequivocally
that “governments and global lending agencies such as the World Bank
and International Monetary Fund” implemented “policies that made
workers increasingly insecure,” but they see numerous signs that sectors
of organized labor are making common cause with the antiglobalization
movement and that there are some trends toward “social justice unionism”
(Gaspin and Yates 2005:3). Likewise, Dan Clawson’s The Next Upsurge
provides evidence that the labor movement may be on the verge of a
major upsurge.3
Yes, Democrats can do a better job of framing the issues (Lakoff 2004)
and, more generally, progressives are hindered by the lack of an ideological
infrastructure (a point made well by Robert Parry in a June, 2005,
article titled “The Left’s Media Miscalculation”). But perhaps the biggest
obstacle to a truly progressive response to the surging strength of radical
conservatism is the Democratic Party’s unwillingness to take the lead
on class issues. To even expect them to do so without pressure from
progressive forces is naive. The Democratic Party will only attempt to
lead the counteroffensive if it is forced, as has been the case in the past.
The impetus for such a movement may include progressive elements of
the Democratic Party but it is more likely to come from labor, progressive
think tanks, and grassroots social-justice organizations. The development
of such a progressive counterattack will involve building multiple
counter-hegemonic frameworks, including a new ideological infrastructure
and a progressive labor movement that connects to other movements
for equity and social justice.


References

Clawson, Dan
2003 The Next Upsurge: Labor and the New Social Movements. Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Press.
Egan, Timothy
2004 “Big Farms Reap 2 Harvests with Aid as Bumper Crop.” New York
Times, December 26.
Eisenbrey, Ross
2004 Longer Hours, Less Pay. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute, July.
Flavin, Christopher
2002 State of The World, 2002. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.
Frank, Thomas
2004 “American Psyche.” New York Times, November 28.
Gapasin, Fernando E. and Michael D. Yates
2005 “Labor Movements: Is There Hope?” Monthly Review, June.
Kennickell, Arthur B.
2003 A Rolling Tide: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth in the United States,
1989–2001. The Levy Economics Institute, Working Paper No. 393.
Lakoff, George
2004 Don’t Think of an Elephant! White Rive Junction, VT: Chelsea Green
Publishing.
Parry, Robert
2005 “The Left’s Media Miscalculation.” Consortiumnews.com http://www.consortiumnews.
com/2005/042805.html, accessed April 29.
Pollin, Michael
2003 “The (Agri)Cultural Contradictions of Obesity.” New York Times, October
12.
Program on International Policy Attitudes
2004 The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters. University of Maryland:
Center on International and Security Studies, October 21.
Real Clear Politics
2005 http://realclearpolitics.com/polls.html.
Reich, Robert
2003 I’ll Be Short. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Shapiro, Isaac and Joel Friedman
2004 “A Comprehensive Assessment of the Bush Administration’s Record
on Cutting Taxes.”
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, http://www.
cbpp.org/4–14–04tax-sum.htm#Distribution.
US Census Bureau
2004 Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2003.
Current Population Reports, 60–226.
Wolff, Edward N.
2004 Changes in Household Wealth in the 1980s and 1990s in the United States. The
Levy Economics Institute, Working Paper No. 407.

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Chengara’s Dalit-Adivasis call to restore their fundamental rights

Posted by samathain on October 23, 2008

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Bharathi Sreedharan could not resist taking risk on her life through dense forest as her children suffered in hunger and starvation in the Chengara village which has been unconstitutionally and unethically blocked by the trade union gangs of all the political parties including the ruling CPI(M) in Kerala. Her agonizing face reflected the happenings inside the village as for more than two months; it is completely cut off from rest of the country. No outsider is allowed to venture into the village and no villager is allowed to come out of it. CPM’s goons attack people from the buses once they recognize that they have sympathies with Chengara people. Many families are on the verge of hunger death if in the next few days no arrangement of food supply is done. ‘They want us to get out of the place but we are determined, says Bharathi, we won’t allow them to take over the place. We are ready to face any eventuality’. We are ready to die for the cause of our children’.

Bharathi came hiding to get some ration from her brother. When the road is blocked from all the way, it is possible only through walking around 10 kilometers in the forest to come and reach the office and wait for him to be there at Laha Gopalan’s office who is the leader of ‘ Sadhu Jan Vimochana Samyukta Vedi’, the organization fighting for the land and livelihood rights of the Dalits and Adivasis in Chengara. It is remarkable that people have united in this struggle and are determined to sacrifice their lives for the land. Interestingly, it is for the first time, that Kerala is witnessing an assertive emerging Dalit Adivasi struggle independent of the influence of dominating communities irrespective of religion.

Gopalan hails from a trade union back ground as he worked in Electricity department and now swears by the legacy of both Baba Saheb Ambedkar and Ayyankali, another Dalit revolutionary from Kerala. The semi constructed office in Pattthanamthittha is a place where all the Dalit-Advasis in the Chengara struggle come and stay. According to Laha Gopalan, they ventured into the area some fourteen months back, as it was legally a government land which should have gone to the landless Dalit-Adivasis of Kerala. The government of Kerala was never interested in the land reform and whatever happened in the name of land reform was eyewash. The tragedy is that there are villages where the Dalits do not have land for even cremating their people. The issue of Dalits and tribal has been neglected by the national and state level parties and hence we decided to make our own destiny.

About 10 kilometer away towards Tiruwala lives the big family of Sabu who are five brothers. Each brother has a big family of his own to support. They have no land. Sabu and his wife have small tea shop. The number of children in the family and the small kitchen that they have for their survival tell the story as how the successive Kerala governments failed to give land to the Dalits. ‘ Sabu was happy that Chengara’s vast track could have provided him a source of independent living and some land for agriculture work. He went there with other families. The real assault came from the trade unions this year when people refused to leave their land. ‘ The union felt that they can coerce us to accept their issues but at the moment people are ready to die. They will commit mass suicide if police and other forces are sending to evict them. We are not ready to accept anything less than a decent land package for our children’, say Sabu. He adds that situation is worsening as there is no food, no water and no sanitation in the entire area. Particularly, it is becoming difficult for children and elderly people to stay. Because of the blockade, we can not provide emergency treatment to any of the villagers as vehicles are not allowed and there is every chance of a bloody fight if we come in touch with the trade union people. Children are facing the malnutrition as there is nothing to eat and drink. We can not go to market to buy milk and rice. Moreover, because of no work in the past two months, there is no money to buy anything’.

How come he is here in the village. ‘ Sir, the union people allowed us 5 days leaves during the Onam festivities. We were allowed to move in and out and hence I came here. I have overstayed here and hence it is difficult to go there because of blockade’. I can not speak to my relatives and friends there, I am really worried as if food is not provided to people soon, they will start dying soon. I am concerned about children and elderly people. They are completely cut off from the rest of the world. It is shameful.’

The seize of Chengara went off well until one day the government which was keen to revive its lease to Harrison Plantation decided that the Dalit and Adivasis could only be evicted if they push it through other routs which is ‘right to live’ issue of the 70 odd plantation workers who were working there. The issue is the Chengara’s tea plantation was already defunct years ago and hence to blame the current situation for the crisis is absolutely wrong. Harrison Plantation cannot use these 70 workers as a shield to deny land rights of the people. The tactics they adopted are fascistic in nature as from the August this year, the situation worsened after the plantation trade union and CPM in particular started blockade. Now the parties have not only used the local tea plantation trade unions but people have been invited from other parts of the state also against the landless people. All the ways going to Chengara were blocked by the party men and no material including medical aid was allowed to go into the village. Only allowance given to people was during ONAM festivities when the blockade was lifted for 5 days to let the people celebrate the festival. But after that the blockade has become functional and harsher and it might turn into a bloody war. Now the situation has gone out of hand. People inside the Chengara area have no source of livelihood; there is no supply of food and water. Some Muslim youth organizations of the area wanted to send rice for the families but but never allowed to do so. It is violation of their rights to food and free from hunger. The state government has shamelessly allowed the situation to go out of hand which has given strength to the trade unions.

It is unfortunate that in this war against their Dalits and tribal the organized gang of the trade union is taking action irrespective of ideology. It is a rare combination of how the upper caste communists and the Hindutva people can come together to wipe out the legitimate demands of the Dalits and tribals. The duplicity of the CPM’s idea comes that the same party launch movement for restoration of land in Andhra Pradesh but want to say that all the Dalits and tribals who have now settled in Chengara are encroachers. Perhaps they have forgotten their own slogan of ‘ Jo jameen sarkari hai, woh jameen hamari hai ( the government land is our land. Land struggles historically invoked this slogan. Harrison Plantation Company did not have legal rights to the acquired land. The lease expired long back. The dalits and tribal who did not get benefited under any programme of the government rightfully acquired the land and asked the government to redistribute it to them. How come the communist government of Kerala kept quiet and turned hostile to Dalits who have just extended the slogan what the communist parties have been raising every where else except in the states they have been ruling. Is it because this land struggle is first of its kind being led by the Dalits and have organized both the Dalits and tribal together in the state.

Dalits have been asking the government to allot them land. In 2006 in the Patthanamthitta district after five days struggle in the government land of rubber plantation area, the land was given to the Dalits on the papers only. Many people are still trying to find where there land is which was given to them on papers by the state government. Says, Raghu, one of the members of the Solidarity Committee, ‘we do not want papers, we want land’.

Patthanamthitta is a district about 60 kilometers from Kottayam, the heart of the Syrian Christian, the original brahmanical convert to Christianity. About 40 kilometer from the town is the heart of Ayappa, the Hindu God. The land relations here are different as the dominant community here is the upper caste Christians. What their role is in the entire struggle of the Dalits, I ask Raghu. ‘ Oh, like any other feudal, the Syrian Christians also are not interested in the battle of Dalits. Dalits here have separate churches for them.’ The Solidarity Committee members like Simon John, who is also Chairman of Backward People Development Corporation, Kerala concede that the original Brahmin converts to Christianity have not left their old prejudices in the Church and therefore are not very keen in supporting the movement of the Dalits and tribal in Chengara. Like the CPM cadre, many of them too feel that the Dalits and tribal have ‘encroached’ the government land, though it is another matter that they all forgot that Harrison Plantation has been the biggest encroacher and was overstaying at the place. It is also shocking that Kerala did not have substantial land reform and all talks of a Kerala module in the developmental text books are big farce if one visit the rural areas of Kerala and speak to Dalits and tribals. A lot is written about Kerala model as a state. Recently a friend wrote to me from London about casteless, dowerless society in Kerala. Yes, I said, Kerala’s caste prejudices are hidden underneath like West Bengal since the first thing the communist regime does is to stop the export of information to outside world. More importantly since a large number of writers and authors actually have been sympathetic to the CPM’s policies with upper caste mindset, they do not really expose the Kerala myth. It was not just Bengal, Tatas have huge track of land in Kerala in the name of tea gardens and plantation. One should not forget that great Dalit revolutionary Ayyankali emerged in Kerala to fight for the rights of Dalits. It is not for nothing that both Patthanmthitta and Trivendram represent two different kind of dominations that Kerala has : the Christian domination and the Hindu domination. Both these upper elites interest are against the rights of the Dalits and other marginalized communities. They remain caged to their old prejudiced worldview.

Laha Gopalan is a determined man. He has seen the traumas of the Dalit communities in the villages where they do not even have land for funeral leave alone for education and houses. ‘ The political parties, both at the national and state level have betrayed the cause of the Dalits and tribal,’ he says. ‘ We started our struggle when people failed to get land by any request. We found that there is no land to them and the government wanted to further the lease at the area which was being used by the Dalits and tribal. Our historic struggle started last year as 7000 people captured the area and started living there. One should have expected that the communist parties which have raised the slogans of ‘ jo jameen sarkari hai, wo jameen hamari hai, ( Government land is our land) today are strangely at the other end. There is no hope in the sight as the trade unions are determined to take law in their own hand and kill people with chief minister virtually becoming a ‘Dhritrastra’.

Says Laha Gopalan, ‘ when we started our first struggle the government termed that they were genuine demands. In June 2006 about 5000 families were living in another plantation area when the revenue minister interfered and promised them land. Chief Minister Achutanandan promised about 1 acre land to each family of the landless but nothing happened. Since August 4, 2007, there are over 7000 families and the government has so far neglected their demand. The unions have surrounded the area and are beating people who are showing solidarity. The lives of the solidarity committee members are in deep threat in the area. They are being identified in the buses, taxis and even in the press conferences and targeted.’

‘ Even in the war zones people allow doctors and medical teams to visit the victims but here the goons of CPM and other trade unions have denied that too to the people,’ says Simon John. They are not allowing the food supply in the village. There is a hunger and starvation situation prevailing in the ‘samarbhoomi’ and one person is already dead due to hunger. It is violation of people’s right to life’, add John. ‘ We are deeply disturbed at the turn of events as government and political parties led by the upper castes are not at all bothered about the growing marginalization of the communities says another activist in Patthanamthittha.

Is it not strange and ironical that CPM and other communist parties who have been in the forefront of agitation against any kind of exploitation in the organized sector do not find that the landless people in Chengara are struggling for a genuine cause? The party leaders termed the entire struggle as unwanted and felt that the local goons and land mafias have taken over the Chengara land struggle. Ofcourse, Party’s anti Dalit stand is visible anywhere. One does not blame the top leadership of the party for being anti Dalit as it would be too much to blame but definitely party’s local leaders are not really that radical Dalit supporters as they should have been. CPM for that matter is like any other political party ( we wanted it remained a different political party) whose cadres hail from dominant communities and serve their local interest as we have seen in West Bengal and how the party remained mute to the displacement of about 700 Valmiki families in Belilius Park in Howarah several years back. Today, party’s proud MPs have made use of the entire space for private properties and shops. Ofcourse, the poor Balmikis never got support from any other Bhadralok parties in Bengal and living in Bengal in highly uncivilized and unacceptable conditions near the waste-mountains, on sewerage lines and on the railway tracks. Similar thing happen in Kerala where the Dalits and Adivasis of Chengara have not got support from any other political outfits. That gives strength to fascistic tendencies of the ruling party and their leaders. But the fact is this nationalism of the communist parties is more dangerous. Our problems with the Hindutva fascist is that we know that they are against the people but when the so called leaders of the proliterariat start behaving neo Hindutvavadis then situation need special remedial measures otherwise people’s frustration would explode soon.

Chengara’s land struggle is historical. It shows that people can not really depend on government dole out for land. Political parties in connivance with the defunct industrial houses are keeping people landless. New landlessness is on the rise. Courts are being used as an excuse to evict people. The marginalized have understood this and are ready to fight till end. If the government of Kerala think it is wrong, let it come out in open and say that they oppose people’s movement for land right. The government cannot use trade unions and other goons to threaten people and evict them. Life in Chengara has become miserable and any further delay will turn Chengara into another Nandigram. The situation in Chengara would become more dangerous and bloody if the government does not behave responsibly. All national and international rights bodies should take care of this note that denying people free movement is denying them right to choice and livelihood. Kerala government has failed to protect Chengara’s Dalits and Adivasis right to move free from one place and other. The inhuman blockade has created unprecedented situation where children and elderly people in Chengara are suffering. Any further delay would escalate the crisis and only government of Kerala would be held responsible for this. The government must act fast and negotiate with the struggling masses of Chengara. The trade union blockade is unconstitutional and illegal and must be removed immediately as it violate the fundamental rights of the people living there who are victim of the criminal silence of the government and civil society.


Vidya Bhushan Rawat
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Govt panel wants SC-ST Act to be extended to tribes

Posted by samathain on August 27, 2008

(Siddhartha Kumar)

Source: www.hindustantimes.com

Press Trust Of India
New Delhi, August 24, 2008
Govt panel wants SC-ST Act to be extended to tribes
A high-level government panel has recommended extension of provisions
of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of
Atrocities) Act to the denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes.
The National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and semi-Nomadic
Tribes (NCDNST), entrusted to study the socio- economic conditions of
the tribal community and recommend measures for their all-round
uplift, presented a copy of its final report to Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh on August 20.
The report asked to process the recommendations urgently for a final
decision and its early implementation.
While presenting the copy of the report, chairman of the Commission
Balkrishna Sriram Renke briefly apprised the prime minister about the
recommendations, which included suggestions for initiation of special
housing scheme, education and skill development programmes for the
tribes.
It was also recommended to create a permanent Commission for
denotified nomadic tribes on the lines of the National Commission for
Scheduled Castes, besides providing reservations to them, sources in
NCDNST said.
“Although the Criminal Tribes Act 1871, consolidated by Britishers to
notify certain tribes as ‘born criminals’ during the colonial rule was
repealed after Independence, the tribes continue to be victims of the
stigma,” a senior official of the NCDNST said.

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Tribal India News – a compilation

Posted by samathain on August 25, 2008

[ Jharkhand yahoo group]


TRIBALS – 2007
(Updated Upto October – 2007)
Compiled by
K. Samu, Human Rights Documentation,
Indian Social Institute, Lodi Road, New Delhi


Tribals to leave for Kalinganagar rally (6)

BERHAMPUR: Tribals and peasants from districts of South Orissa have started arriving in the city to get
united to start their journey to attend the rally at Kalinganagar on January 2 to commemorate the first
anniversary of the death of tribals opposed to displacement in police firing there last year..The All India
Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (AIKMS) andLok Sangram Manch are organising these rural activists in Berhampur
so that they can reach Kalinganagar in an organised manner. According to B.C.Sadangi, the national
commitee member of the AIKMS, around 1500 activists from districts of south Orissa would gather in
Berhampur by Sunday night to start for Kalinganagar on Monday. (The Hindu 1/1/07)


Tribute paid to victims at Kalinga Nagar (6)
Kalinga Nagar (Orissa), Jan. 2: Thousands of tribal people, nearly half of them women, on Tuesday
gathered at Ambagadia village near here, to pay tribute to 13 of their fellowmen who were gunned down
by the police during a displacement protest rally on this day last year. The congregation included over
5,000 delegates from neighbouring Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Bihar. The tribals were
killed as the police opened fire on them when they opposed the construction of boundary walls for Tata
Steel’s proposed six million tonne steel plant. Thirteen stone pillars erected at Ambagadia in memory of
the dead were formally unveiled. Although a year has elapsed since the incident, normalcy is yet to return
here. Chief minister Navin Patnaik has not yet visited Kalinga Nagar. The chief minister apprehends his
trip to the area might create anger among the affected tribals and result in widespread agitations in the
area. Interestingly, the Patnaik government has been projecting Kalinga Nagar as the steel hub. “The
government has stopped all dialogue with us after we had one with the chief minister six months ago. All
promises including withdrawal of cases against the tribals are forgotten. It’s the government and not us
who created this situation in Kalinga Nagar and people anywhere will rise in revolt whenever the
government behaves in such fashion,” leader of Bisthapan Virodhi Janmanch Ravi Jarika said. (Asian Age
3/1/07)


Tribals vow to oppose displacement (6)
KALINGA NAGAR: Thousands of tribals who attended a public meeting here on Tuesday to pay tributes to
the 13 persons killed in police firing in this industrial township in Orissa’s Jajpur district on January 2 last
year announced that they would oppose displacement across the country. No cultivable or forest land
should be handed over to private companies to set up industries or special economic zones either in
Orissa or any other part of the country, the tribals said. Alleging that the existing resettlement and
rehabilitation policies were `pro-industry,’ those present at the meeting vowed to continue their struggle
against displacement that was making people sacrifice their land and livelihood sources. More than
10,000 tribals and members of pro-tribal mass organisations and political outfits from Orissa, Jharkhand,
Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra attended the
meeting. They demanded that all States and the Centre stop transfer of tribal land in scheduled areas and
other areas to non-tribals and restore all unlawful alienation of land. To ensure this, stringent provisions
should be incorporated into the State and Central regulations. The meeting was organised by the
Bisthapan Virodhi Janmanch, which has been spearheading the anti-displacement agitation in Kalinga
Nagar since the police firing. The police opened fire when the tribals were agitating against the
construction of a boundary wall for a Tata Steel project. About the ongoing agitation by the tribals against
the project, the meeting decided no to allow the plant to come up in the area. (The Hindu 3/1/07)


Workshop for tribal youths held (6)
BERHAMPUR: To save the tribals from the corrupt practices during coming panchayat polls, a workshop
for tribal youths was organised at Paralakhemundi in Gajapati district on Monday by the organisation,
Mahila Vikas Samity. Sub-divisional panchayat officer of paralakhemundi, Chandrasekhar Moharana,
director of the Orissa Tribal Empowerment Project, Gopabandhu Das and others addressed the
workshop. (The Hindu 9/1/07)


Tribals oppose steel projects (6)
JAMSHEDPUR: Expressing their opposition to greenfield steel plants proposed to be set up by two
industrial groups in Jharkhand’s East Singhbhum district, tribal groups staged a protest here on Tuesday
and resolved they would not allow “a repeat of Nandigram” in the State. Led by heads of about 30 villages
in Potaka block, the tribals, including children and women, brandished bows and arrows and shouted
slogans during the protest outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office hereThe tribals are opposed to the
proposed projects of Jindal and Bhusan business groups. (The Hindu 10/1/07)


CM for Rs 30 cr sops to MP tribals (6)
Bhopal, Jan. 11: Having already given government employees a new year windfall and lakhs of pensioners
a reason to smile, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan offered a slew of sops worth Rs
30 crore annually for the state’s sizeable tribal populace. The announcements were made at an “adivasi
panchayat” organised at Mr Chauhan’s residence earlier this week. Provision for the funding, he said,
would be made in the next Budget. The panchayat was attended by over 2,000 tribal representatives and
leaders from all parts of the state. Among the sops announced was provision of TV sets with
direct-to-home (DTH) broadcast facility to all tribal student hostels in the state, hike in scholarship, free
toiletries, uniforms, bags and books for school going children, gift of at least three milk-giving livestock to
all families in 11 tribal-dominated districts under the Kaamdhenu project, housing facilities under the
Mukhya Mantri Awaas Yojana for those living below the poverty line and those staying in the state capital,
kisan credit cards for farmers, conversion of all forest villages into revenue villages and undertaking of
timely land surveys in rural areas, grant of land-owning pattas to all tribals staying in forest areas, adivasis
living in Dindori an Umaria were promised a polytechnic each in their district. Mr Chauhan also promised
to initiate development projects worth Rs 250 crore in adivasi areas. This would include opening of 25 new
health centres and 50 sub-health centres and alternative drinking water facilities in over 3,000 habitats.
State government sources said, the key to winning the confidence of tribals lay in granting land lease
rights to those who were tilling the land till as late as 2005. Linked to it was the conversion of forest
villages into revenue villages. This would give them the privilege of land ownership and inoculate them
against the danger of being driven out of their holdings. Presidential assent to the amendments made in
the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, recently passed by the Parliament was awaited. The sources argued
that though there was a lurking fear in many quarters that forest areas could be effectively denuded of
their green cover (which was not entirely unjustified), granting tribals land-holding rights on the soil they
laboured was overdue. The process of the above “conversion” had been begun by former Prime Minister
Atal Behari Vajpayee. The good thing was that since Assembly polls were still two years away, nobody
could claim that the sops had an electoral motive. (Asian Age 12/1/07)


Tribals in no mood to end blockade (6)
BHUBANESWAR: Despite High Court’s directive to the State Government to remove the blockade from
National Highway No. 200 at Kalinga Nagar, the Jajpur district administration has not been able to
implement the order so far. With the administration failing to convince the agitating tribals to end their
agitation, the deadlock continues. The tribals who have been spearheading the agitation since the police
firing on January 2 last year are in no mood to remove the blockade. The office-bearers of Visthapan
Virodhi Janmanch, the organisation which has been spearheading the agitation, are of the view that they
would not lift the blockade till the Government fulfilled their demands. In its order passed on January 5, a
division bench of the High Court had directed the State Government “to take effective steps for removal
of the blockade over the said highway immediately”. In their efforts to pacify the tribals, the district
authorities had held a meeting with some representatives of the Janmanch on Wednesday. However, the
Janmanch people sought time for a full-fledged meeting at a later date. “We are trying our best to
implement the High Court by persuading the tribals to remove the blockade,” Jajpur Superintendent of
Police Asit Panigrahi said. Mr. Panigrahi said the next meeting with the tribals was likely to take place on
January 17 or 18 to sort out the matter. “We are hopeful that the tribals would agree for removal of the
blockade in view of the High Court order,” he said. Although the High Court has made it clear in its order
that the district administration was at liberty to take appropriate measures under the law to remove the
blockade, the authorities are so far restraining themselves from using force to clear the blockade as the
same may aggravate the situation. The tribals have been blocking the highway since last year demanding
action against the officials who were present during the police firing in which 13 tribal men and women
were killed while opposing construction of the boundary wall for a proposed steel project of Tata Steel.
(The Hindu 13/1/07)


Lower castes are genetically closer (6)
Hyderabad, Jan. 14: People belonging to lower castes are genetically closer to tribal groups then they are
to upper castes, a study conducted by the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology
(CCMB) has discovered. Experts from the CCMB believe that this adds credence to the theory that lower
castes emerged from tribal populations. A senior scientist at the centre, Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj, said
the origin of the caste system in India has been the subject of heated debate among anthropologists and
historians. Many of them had suggested that the caste system began with the arrival of speakers of Indo
European languages from Central Asia about 3,500 years ago. “However, there has been no consensus
on this so far,” he added. In the latest study, CCMB scientists analysed the Y-chromosome and
mitochondrial DNA of three tribal populations of southern India and compared the results with the
available data from across the Indian subcontinent. They did not find any significant difference in
mitochondrial DNA among Indian tribal and caste populations. On the other hand, the study of the
Y-chromosome lineage revealed distinct distribution patterns among caste and tribal populations. “The
paternal lineage of Indian lower castes shows closer affinity to the tribal populations than to upper castes,”
said Dr Thangaraj. A significant aspect of the study is that its Y-SNP data provides compelling genetic
evidence for the tribal origin of the lower caste populations. It gives substance to the theory that lower
caste groups may have emerged from hierarchical divisions existing within the tribal groups much before
the arrival of the Aryans. Indo-Europeans may have established themselves as upper castes over this
already developed caste-like class structure within the tribes. Indian society has been subject to multiple
waves of migration in historic and prehistoric times. The first was the ancient Palaeolithic migration by
early humans. This was followed by the early Neolithic migration, probably of proto-Dravidian speakers.
About 3,500 years ago, the Indo-European speakers arrived. “Indian tribal and caste populations emerge
from the genetic heritage of Pleistocene southern and western Asians,” said Dr Thangaraj. “At the same
time, the paternal lineage of Indian castes is more closely related to the Central Asians.” (Asian Age
15/1/07)


K Nagar solution not likely before April (6)
Bhubaneswar : Even though the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Manch has expressed its keenness to hold talks
with the State Government in the wake of the recent Orissa High Court direction for withdrawal of the
yearlong road blockade at Kalinga Nagar, there seems to be a remote possibility of the blockade on
National Highway-200 coming to an end before April. This is indicated in a letter sent by the Jan Manch to
the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The tribal leaders have apparently given a veiled message to the State
administration that they would not lift the road blockade unless their three-point charter of demands are
fulfilled. But the question is that whether the Government could meet the demands to pave the way of
lifting of the blockade. The tribals’ demands are: (1) the then District Collector Saswat Mishra and SP
Binaytosh Mishra must be prosecuted. The Government must initiate criminal proceedings against the
officers under Section 302 (murder) of IPC for the killing of 13 tribals. (2) All types of cases against tribals,
including those on murder charges, must be withdrawn. The criminal cases have been filed against more
than 100 people in the wake of the January 2, 2006 police-firing incident, in which the tribals were killed.
(3) The Government at the “highest level” must declare that there should be no more displacement in the
Kalinga Nagar area. However, sources said that the Government is in no mood to fulfil the demands. “This
is because it is impossible to withdraw charges like murder, arson and rioting,” said a senior official. This
apart, the Government also cannot initiate proceedings against the then SP and Collector due to the
simple reason that they were asked to ensure the land acquisition and also because a judicial commission
is inquiring into the incident. If the Government starts a dialogue with the agitating tribals in January itself,
it will automatically take some time, at least 15 days, to persuade them not to press for their demands.
This may linger the road blockade lifting process till February. Thereafter, a senior officer pointed out, the
Government cannot spare time because it would remain busy in panchayat polls till March-end. (Pioneer
16/1/07)


ST woman’s poll papers ‘torn by BJD supporters’ (6)
Kendrapara : Some BJD supporters on Monday allegedly tore the nomination paper of a Scheduled Tribe
woman, Uma Pata, who was filing her nomination on behalf of the Congress for the post of Panchayat
Samiti member for Chandiagadia Gram Panchayat at Aul block office. The BJD supporters also allegedly
attacked her supporters. According to police sources, as Patra was about to file her candidature, BJD
supporters, allegedly led by Bhisma Mohanty, came to the block office and forcibly took the nomination
paper from her and tore it. District Congress president Debendra Sharma said the post of the Panchayat
Samiti member is reserved for ST women at Chandiagadi GP and Patra was the only candidate. Official
sources, however, said Patra was not allowed to file her paper by the BDO because she arrived late for
filing the nomination. Tension prevailed in the bock office premises as supporters of both parties attacked
each other. Police force was deployed there to avert any untoward incident. Patra, along with Sharma and
her supporters, lodged an FIR at Aul Police Station against the BJD supporters. The police were
conducting an inquiry into matter, but no arrest has been made so far, informed OIC of Aul PS Subash
Panda. The matter has also been brought to the notice of the District Magistrate, SP, the State Election
Commission and the State Government. (Pioneer 16/1/07)
Jharkhand Ministers patronise tradition of cock fights (6)
Ranchi : Cockfight is inextricably associated with the tribal tradition of Jharkhand and even these days it is
a big medium of entertainment. On Sunday two Jharkhand Ministers were busy in cockfight in the steel
city of Jamshedpur. Jharkhand Deputy Chief Minister Sudhir Mahto and Land and Revenue Minister Dulal
Bhuiya were encouraging their fowl to dominate on other and hurt them. They were not cockfight
watchers. Rather they were keeping the cock and pushing them to fight. Mahto was attired in a typical
India politician Dhoti and Kurta and Bhuiya was in trousers and coat. It seems that both the Ministers who
belong to Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) were easing their tension as their chief Shibu Soren is cooling
his heels in a murder cases. They declined to comment about their interest when media persons queried
about the fight. Cockfighting is a tradition of tribal society for times immemorial. It is popular in many parts
of the State and people take the fight as a big medium of entertainment. They like to watch the method of
attack of the fowl on each other and love and enjoy the injuries caused to the rival fowls. The game ends
when a fowl dies or sustains serious injuries in the fight. In Ramgarh the fight is still part and parcel of
tribal people. Before the final fight the cocks are prepared for it. “Before the scheduled fight we keep the
cock in a dark room for one week. Cocks are kept in dark to ignite their anger. And on the day of fight no
food is served to them so that their anger goes on its peak,” said Shivanandan, owner of a cock. He said
“cloves are given to cocks keep them warm. The fight continues till one cock sustains serious injuries or
dies.” Owners of these cocks say that the foul which are used for fighting are kept away from the groups.
They are prepared to gain stamina and strength to defeat the opponent. During a fight the sharp knives
are fitted on the legs of the cocks to hurt the opponent. They are taught the ways to attack and to defend
during fight. “I regularly watch cockfights. It gives us immense pleasure and we enjoy the fight. This is our
medium of entertainment,” said Ganesh Kumar, a resident of Ramgarh. Animal lovers oppose such fights
but when lawmakers are involved in such fights then who will dare to prevent the game. (Pioneer 16/1/07)


Jharkhand to take up tribal seats issue with PM, President (6)
Ranchi ; The Jharkhand Government has decided to approach Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and
President APJ Abdul Kalam over recommendation of the delimitation commission to reduce the number of
tribal seats in the Assembly. The Delimitation Commission in its recommendation has said that the
reserved tribal seats in Jharkhand Assembly should be reduced to 21 from the existing 28. Leaders
across party lines have agreed to approach the PM and President over the issue and request them not to
implement the recommendation. The leaders of all the political parties are unanimous about the number of
seats but mudslinging has also started on the issue. “Former Chief Minister Arjun Munda had not taken
the issue seriously and he did not feel right to approach the Prime Minister and President over the issue,”
said Chief Minister Madhu Koda. The Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting held in Ranchi on
Tuesday authorised the Chief Minister to take up the issue with the PM and President. The meeting
expressed concern over the recommendation and demanded that Jharkhand should be given status like
Tripura where the number of reserved seats did not change even if the tribal population goes down. “In
1951 the number of reserved seats in the Assembly was 32, which was reduced to 28 in 1971 and now it
is to be reduce to 21. If this trend continues then in future there will be no reserved seats for the tribal
people,” said Koda. The TAC members wanted the same number of reserved seats even if the population
declines. “The recommendation of the Delimitation Commission is a matter of serious concern. A law
should be framed to protect the reserved seats for the tribal people,” said former Chief Minister Babulal
Marandi. Taking a dig at his own Government, senior BJP leader Karia Munda said, “I was never
consulted on the issue. A team of Ministers was formed during the NDA regime but what they did I could
not tell.” Even BJP tribal legislators are unhappy with their previous Government. “The silence of our two
Chief Ministers caused the problem,” said Ramchandra Baitha, a BJP legislator. (Pioneer 18/1/07)


Report recommends withdrawal of Salwa Judum (6)
NEW DELHI: Attributing the significant increase in incidence of violence against women in Chhattisgarh’s
Dantewara district to Salwa Judum, the Committee Against Violence On Women (CAVOW) has called for
a review of the Government’s counter-insurgency strategy. Salwa Judum was initiated by the Government
in June 2005 as a people’s movement against terrorism and naxalism. In a report `Salwa Judum and
Violence on Women in Dantewara’, the group has documented cases of violence and abuse against
women in the State. The report, submitted to the National Commission for Women, highlights the
atrocities perpetrated by the Salwa Judum activists. Released here on Thursday by writer-activist
Arundhati Roy, the report points out the absence of health and education facilities in the district. Speaking
at the release function, Ms. Roy said, “This is a disturbing document and the business of setting up
vigilante groups is infusing the country with violence.” She criticised the Government’s policies and said,
“We are entering an era where we have to become a police or an army state and they will become the
implementers of the great Indian growth rate dream.” Ms. Roy was also critical of the Special Economic
Zones being set up and agricultural land being given to corporates at subsidised rates. Referring to the
report, convenor of CAVOW Shoma Sen said, “At the initiation of CAVOW, a team visited the area
between September 30 and November 18, 2006, to investigate the conditions of safety, security, life and
livelihood of tribal women.” Claiming that Salwa Judum, which was built for restoring peace in the area has
instead proved to be a violent institution, CAVOW member and researcher Ilina Sen said, “Women have
been raped and molested, dole being given out to people is insufficient, ration does not last for the whole
week, international organisations working out of the area have documented that there is malnutrition and
hunger, minors are being recruited as Special Police Officers and under-trial women in jails are victims of
sexual abuse.” Echoing the view that Salwa Judum has failed to deliver, NCW Chairperson Prof. Malini
Bhattacharya said: “Strange things are happening there in the wake of Salwa Judum. Villages are
deserted and whatever little civic amenities are available are in the relief camps, SPOs are underage and
have been alienated from normal life. Though we have no direct evidence of violence against women, our
team met women lodged in prisons who have been abused. These village women claim they have been
accused of having links with naxals.” (The Hindu 19/1/07)


Tribals attack two surveyors (6)
Bhubaneswar, Jan. 18: Orissa’s steel hub Kalinga Nagar is once again in tur moil. Two people, who
reportedly claimed to be land surveyors appointed by a leading steel firm, were injured as tribals attacked
them on , Wednesday evening. The district administration was not aware of the pres ence of any survey
team in the volatile area. “No prior intimation was given to us. This is a troubled area and the industrial
house concerned is .responsible for such recklessness,” said a harried senior district offi cer. There was
utter confu sion over who had engaged the Geo Designers, a survey organisation, to work on land that had
been allotted to Maharashtra Seamless. However, Maharashtra Seamless had abandoned the area after
persistent law and order problems and the same plot was to be allotted to the Tatas. While agitated locals
and the district authorities said the survey ors were working for the Tatas, the company sources insisted
that they too were unaware of the team’s pres ence on the spot on Wednes day. The fresh incident, ironically,
comes within 24 hours of a high-level meet ing held on Tuesday in Bhubaneswar where Kalinga
Nagar industrialists had raised issues of law and order and the Orissa govern ment had assured them of a
proper working atmosphere. The Wednesday incident took place when five people reached Kalamatia
village in the Kalinga Nager Industrial Complex area on Wednes day afternoon and started some work,
including alleged blasting of a broken abandoned structure. Hearing noise, people rushed to the spot and
assaulted the survey team. While two of the team sus tained injuries, three others, including driver of the
vehi cle, fled from the spot. (Asian Age 19/1/07)


Naveen calls tribals for dialogue (6)
BHUBANESWAR: Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday offered to hold talks with the
agitating tribals of Kalinga Nagar, the upcoming industrial hub in Jajpur district of the State. The dialogue
between the Chief Minister and representatives of the Visthapan Virodhi Janmanch will take place on
January 31 “without any pre-condition.” The talks will be held at the State Secretariat. The Janmanch has
been continuing with its road blockade agitation on the Daitari-Paradip national highway at Kalinga Nagar
since January 2 last year when 13 tribals were killed in police firing while opposing construction of the
boundary wall for the proposed steel plant of Tata Steel. A letter about Mr. Patnaik’s readiness to hold
talks with the Kalinga Nagar tribals was sent from the Chief Minister’s Office to Jajpur district Collector
Arabinda Kumar Padhee on Wednesday. Mr. Padhee has been asked to inform about Mr. Patnaik’s
decision to the Janmanch leaders. “The Visthapan Virodhi Janmanch is welcome to have discussion on
any issue without any pre-condition,” the letter from the Chief Minister’s Office said. Secretary of the
Janmanch Rabindra Jarika had earlier written a letter to Mr. Patnaik expressing the organisation’s
readiness for a meaningful and sincere discussion that could lead to an “appropriate settlement of the
issue.” Expressing apprehension that the district administration may resort to use of force for lifting the
road blockade in view of the recent High Court order asking the government to put an end to the
roadblock agitation, Mr. Jarika had warned that the authorities should not take any step that would make
the people lose their faith in the government. (The Hindu 25/1/07)


Jailed tribal leader’s wife cries foul (6)
Koraput: “My husband is not a naxalite,” says Nachika Tikai, wife of Nachika Linga. Leader of Chasi Muli,
an organisation fighting for the land rights of tribals at Podapadar panchayat in Narayanapatna block of
Koraput district, Nachika Linga was arrested by the police on the charge of having connections with
naxalites, she told a team of journalists at Podapadar. “Being a leader of the masses, landlords perceived
threat from him,” she said, and added that he was only part of the movement creating awareness among
people on land rights. Rabindra Linga, the 10-year-old son of Nachika Linga, pleaded for release of his
father. (The Hindu 25/1/07)


Panel frowns at neglect of tribals (6)
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Scheduled Tribes Commission chairperson Kunwar Singh has taken
exception to what he terms relative neglect of Scheduled Tribes by the State Government. Mr. Singh, who
visited tribal hamlets in different parts of Kerala, told a news conference here on Wednesday that the
benefits of various welfare schemes meant for Scheduled Tribes were not reaching the target group. He
had visited Kerala under the impression that being highly literate, the State might be providing better
protection to the tribal population as compared to other parts of India, but he had found the situation in the
hamlets deplorable, Mr. Kunwar Singh said. He said the tribal hamlets were lacking in proper medical
facilities, drinking water supply, power and roads. Many of the tribes were finding it difficult to cultivate in
their lands as the land they had in possession was not cultivable. There was also large-scale alienation of
tribal lands. On top of all this, the Government had imposed taxes on them. The Government should
devise schemes for better land utilisation by the tribal population and to provide more credit to them from
the cooperative sector, he said. Mr. Kunwar Singh pointed out that even students from Scheduled Tribes
with high marks in the qualifying examinations were not getting adequate number of seats for MBBS
courses as the cut-off marks of entrance examinations had been fixed at a higher level. The Madhya
Pradesh Government had lowered the cut-off mark of entrance examinations in the case of Scheduled
Tribes. Kerala could also examine whether this could be done, he added. He regretted the failure of
representatives of several State departments to attend the review meeting he had convened to discuss
the problems faced by the Scheduled Tribes. Although all the departments were supposed to send their
representatives to the meeting, only Tribal, Health and Excise Departments were represented at the
meeting. This showed the attitude of the bureaucracy towards the problems of the Scheduled Tribes, Mr.
Kunwar Singh said. (The Hindu 25/1/07)


Tribals agree to come for talks (6)
BHUBANESWAR: The agitating tribals of Kalinga Nagar on Saturday decided to hold a formal dialogue
with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on January 31. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Visthapan
Virodhi Janmanch, the organisation that has been spearheading the agitation since January 2 last year.
However, sources in official circles said the Janmanch leaders might take a rigid stand on their demands
when they finally come for discussion and the dialogue may not achieve the expected results. But Jajpur
district Collector Arabinda Kumar Padhee said the administration was hopeful of a peaceful resolution of
the issue. “We are expecting a positive outcome,” he said. The Janmanch had earlier written a letter to
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressing its willingness to hold talks with the government at the highest
political level in the wake of a High Court order directing the government to remove the road blockade on
Daitari-Paradip highway near Kalinga Nagar. Responding to the Janmanch offer, the Chief Minister’s
Office had written a letter through the district Collector that Mr. Patnaik was ready to hold dialogue to put
an end to the agitation. The Janmanch had been continuing with the road blockade agitation since 13
tribals were killed in police firing last year while opposing construction of a boundary wall for a proposed
steel of Tata Steel. (The Hindu 28/1/07)


Minister visits Adivasi Mela (6)
Bhubaneswar : Good sense at last prevails on SC and ST Minister Chaitanyaa Prasad Majhi. On Monday,
he visited the all the stalls at the Adivasi Mela. Majhi went there at afternoon and moved around all the
stalls for around one and half hour. Sources said as Majhi did not go the stall on the inaugural day on the
Republic Day, tribals expressed their resentment. It is a customary that the SC and ST Minister should
visit all the stalls and encourage the tribals, who have come form far-flung areas to the State Capital to
show case their rich culture and tradition. The tribals also gifted some items to the ministers. Majhi also
purchased some items from the Adivasi Mela. (Pioneer 30/1/07)


Miscarriage, stillbirths after uranium mining (6)
Jadugoda (Jharkhand), Jan. 29: Several hundred adivasis in Jharkhand are reportedly paying an
extremely heavy price for India’s nuclear ambitions. A visit to Jadugoda village, 35 km from the steel city
of Jamshedpur, in Jharkhand’s East Singhbhum district makes that evident. In Jadugoda, home of the
country’s first uranium mine, where the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) started mining in 1967,
almost each and every family is suffering from mental and physical disorders of one or the other kind.
Women over 30 are about to turn barren. An extensive study conducted by the Jharkhand Organisation
Against Radiation (JOAR) a few years back, one of the few such exercises to be conducted in the tribal
heartland, threw up hair-raising figures. Some 47 per cent of women living close to the uranium mines
reported disruptions in their menstrual cycle while another 18 per cent adivasi women had sudden
miscarriages and stillbirths. It was also reported that around 30 per cent of adivasis reported some sort of
problem in conception, while a majority of local women complained of fatigue, weakness and depression.
Children are next. Five-year-old Gudiya is one of the “victims” of radiation. Managing to come out of her
mother’s womb alive, after her mother had five miscarriages, Gudiya now cannot walk and cannot talk.
Her limbs are distorted and she is mentally challenged. “This is not just the tale of my daughter, there are
many children in the village who have met the same fate,” says Mangal, the girl’s father. Subsequent
surveys by a few other NGOs also claim that children living in more than two dozen villages surrounding
the uranium mines have also shown signs of mutation. While walking through the narrow lanes in this
tribal-dominated village, one can easily spot children with twisted limbs and mutilated body parts sitting on
the lap of their mother, quietly and curiously looking at every stranger passing by. Even the adults are
hesitant to mix freely with “outsiders”, specially when someone asks what had happened to their child.
According to a rough estimate, UCIL, which is under the department of atomic energy, acquired 2,000
acres of land at Jadugoda and established a township, displacing five villages. According to the 1961
census, the total population of these villages was 2,047, of whom 47.1 per cent were tribals. Many
indigenous tribal families have also been displaced from their ancestral land owing to the construction of
mines and mills in nearby Bhatin, Turamdih and Narwapahar. Bapi Da, a local activist leading the
campaign against health hazards, says: “Not only women and children, but the workers who get into the
mines to dig out uranium ore and man the tailing ponds where the waste generated from the mills is
dumped suffer from serious ailments like bone, blood and kidney disorders, brain damage and nausea.”
According to him, the kit to measure the effect of radiation on the bodies of workers, which UCIL used to
be provide to every worker earlier, was later taken away; and the medical records of workers who fall ill
and get admitted to the hospital run by the corporation are kept secret. (Asian Age 30/1/07)


180 people reconverted to Hinduism (6)
Bhubaneswar : Keeping an eye on the third World Hindu Religious Conference, which will begin on
February 11 in Allahabad, the State unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Monday reconverted at least
180 people from 50 families to Hinduism under the Bonai Police Station area in Sundargarh district.
According to VHP sources here, all the families were reconverted amidst performing of traditional Hindu
rituals at the Jagyan site, where several VHP leaders were present. Early in January 2006, nearly 136
tribals were reconverted to Hinduism at a function organised by the local unit of the VHP and the Bajarang
Dal at a remote village in Tumbei under Gurundia police station in Sundargarh. It was again followed by
reconverting at least 336 persons of 80 tribal families in 11 villages under Sundargarh district at a special
function in Baridia last October. Similarly, at least 73 persons from 17 families in Rourkela on the occasion
of Kartik Purnima were reconverted into Hinduism. On October 24, 2004, 300 Tribal Christians were
reconverted to Hinduism in Sundargarh district. According to a statistics, more than 8,000 people were
reconverted in 2006 while Parishad has planned to strengthen its women wing Durga Bahini and youth
wing Bajarang Dal. Besides it has also decided to carry out more reconversion activities in the tribal
dominated regions of the State, where conversion is a war between the Christian Missionaries and
Sangha Pariwar. Meanwhile VHP sources admitted that the reconversion is on the active agenda in
Sundergarh district. “We are planning to do it more intensively and in a well-coordinated manner,” VHP
insiders said. In the past four years, more than 2,000 tribals have gone through the process of “home
coming”. “They are not Christians but they are Hindus in fact and don’t call it conversion as we are just
bringing them back to the fold of their ancestors’ religion,” argued VHP activists. (Pioneer 30/1/07)


Kalinga tribals to meet CM to end stalemate today (6)
Jajpur : A 17-member team of the Visthapan Virodhi Janmanch will meet Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik
on Wednesday at the State Secretariat to discuss the Kalinga Nagar issue. The rift among the activists of
the Visthapan Virodhi Janmanch, on Tuesday was amicably settled after a long meeting at Ambagadia. An
emergency meeting was called to discuss the issue over the Chief Minister’s invitation to end the
stalemate in Kalinga Nagar that has been continuing over the last one year. In the meeting, there was an
angry exchange of words between two factions after Janmanch Secretary, Rabindra Jarika said he had
not given any statement on the action of political parties who stood by the tribals during the agitation. He
also said that his signature on the Press release issued by the CPI (ML), New Democratic leaders, was
false. Responding to the Chief Minister’s invitation, Janmanch submitted a list of 17 members to the Jajpur
collector for tomorrow’s meeting at the State Secretariat. However, five members out of the list under the
leadership of the president of the outfit were threatening to boycott the meeting. Janmanch president,
Chakradhar Haiburu (senior) said that he and many of its members have decided to boycott the meeting
over the alleged remarks on political parties who stood by the tribals during the agitation. In an exclusive
interview, Janmanch President, Haiburu (senior) said, “Janmanch has been formed for the interest of the
agitating tribals fighting against industrialisation. We are leading the outfit on behalf of them. The innocent
tribals have reposed faith in us. Without consulting them we must not say any thing publicly.”He further
said “As I am ill following a minor operation, names of all office bearers and executive members of the
Janmanch except me are included in the 17 member list”. It may be noted that only few days ago
Janmanch secretary, Rabindra Jarika in association with CPI (ML) and New Democracy leaders had
termed the Congress as well as Left parties as enemies and equating them with the ruling BJD-BJP
coalition. (Pioneer 31/1/07)
TRIBALS


Allot pattas to tribals, demands Jamuna Devi (6)
Bhopal : Leader of Opposition Jamuna Devi said on Monday that the Madhya Pradesh Government would
no longer displace the tribals after the passing of the Tribal Bill, 2006. She urged the Chief Minister to allot
patta to the displaced people from the forestlands. She also informed that the Central Government would
soon issue an Ordinance in this respect. Jamuna Devi also congratulated Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi for constituting the Act in favour of the tribals. In a letter to
the CM, she also asked the State Government to allot pattas to those tribals who were displaced after
1980. She asked the CM to take back the cases pending in the High Court against the tribals for
unlawfully capturing the forestlands.She sent the document of the Act to the party presidents of district
and block levels asking them to generate awareness among the tribals regarding the ‘historical’ act for
them so that the State Government can’t mislead them any more. (Pioneer 6/2/07)


Tribals protest against SC order
Jaipur, Feb. 7: Tension prevailed in Rishabdeo town of Udaipur district on Wednesday when tribals
assembled to claim Risabdeo temple. The police resorted to lathicharge and lobbed teargas shells to
disperse the mob. Over 20 people, most of them policemen, were injured in stone-pelting. The tribals
agitated when they heard that the temple would be handed over to the Jain community following a court
order, though the Jain community clarified that it would maintain the existing management system and
tribals would be free to offer prayers the way they used to in the past. According to sources, the tribals on
Wednesday used the traditional system of beating drums, also considered an emergency call for
assembling for action. The tribals, armed with arrows and stones, then descended over the town and
clashed with the police. The violent mob went on the rampage and three vehicles, including a car, were
put on fire. The police opened fire in the air to control the mob and staged a flag march in the town. “The
situation is under control and an additional police force has been deployed in the area,” said Mr Rajiv
Dasot, inspector-general of police, Udaipur. (Asian Age 8/2/07)


Five injured in police firing in Udaipur (6)
JAIPUR: Five persons were injured on Thursday in police firing as tribals continued their protest against
the handing over of its principle temple to the Jain community in Rishabhdeo town in Udaipur district.
Police had to open fire when over 5,000 tribals tried to enter the Kesariaji temple. The situation has been
tense since Wednesday when a `mahapadav’ was organised by the tribals. Over 30 people, mostly
policemen, including the Udaipur SP M.N. Dinesh were injured on Wednesday when the protesters pelted
stones, torched two-wheelers and cars parked in the temple area and held up traffic for several hours.
Two Rajasthan Armed Constable companies and two Rajasthan Police companies have been deployed in
the area to maintain law and order, Mr. Dinesh told PTI over phone. Police used teargas to disperse the
tribals who pelted stones at them. So far 26 people have been detained by the police, Mr. Dinesh said.
The tribals, who worship the temple’s presiding deity as “Kala Baba,” are irked over a Supreme Court
ruling last month transferring the ownership rights of the ancient temple to the Jain community. (The Hindu
9/2/07)


Rajasthan town tense after 1 killed in temple violence (6)
Jaipur, February 9: A day after one person was killed and seven injured in clashes between tribals and the
police over the Supreme Court’s granting of an ancient temple to the Jain community, the town of
Rishabdeo was tense for a third consecutive day on Friday with stone-pelting protestors torching a shop in
the nearby village of Kalyanpur. Tribals in Rishabdeo in Udaipur district had yesterday tried to forcibly
enter the 15th century Kesariaji temple, a popular Jain pilgrimage site, saying the Supreme Court’s order
in January to hand over the temple administration to the Jain community would restrict their access to the
temple whose deity they worship as ‘Kala Baba’. As hundreds of tribals tried to force their way into the
temple, police opened fire, killing one person and leaving seven injured. On Wednesday, the tribals held a
‘mahapadav’ and went on to torch vehicles parked outside the temple, pelting stones at the police. Over
30 people, mainly policemen, were injured in the melee. Rajiv Dasot, IG Udaipur Range, said a
peace-committee of Jain and tribal representatives along with political leaders and local administrative and
police officers met on Thursday midnight and agreed to maintain peace. District Collector Shikhar Agarwal
said the situation is now under control. “Tension prevailed on Friday but there has not been any major
incidence of violence since Thursday evening. Most tribals, who had gathered here from nearby villages,
have returned to their homes. The army remains on a stand by while extra police force has been
deployed,” Agarwal said. (Indian Express 10/2/07)


Security personnel charged with rape in C’garh; probe on (6)
Raipur, February 10 : A trbal woman was allegedly gangraped by India Reserve Battalion personnel from
Mizoram deployed in the Naxal-affected Dantewada area of Chhattisgarh. This comes within weeks of the
National Commission for Women expressing concern at the increase in atrocities against tribals caught
between Naxalites and security forces. The incident allegedly occurred on February 3 but it was brought to
light only after tribal rights activists made representations before Dantewada Collector K R Pisda and
Superintendent of Police O P Pal on Friday. Pisda said an SP level inquiry had been ordered into the
incident. “A medical test of the victim will be conducted soon,” he added. According to the complaint, the
incident occurred on the evening of February 3 when the victim was on her way home from a shop in
Nakulnaar village. “Three or four jawans of the Mizo battalion caught her and took her to a desolate place
where they raped her,” it says. The victim was gagged and beaten unconscious, sources said, leading to
severe back and abdominal injuries. Adivasi Mahasabha Mahila Morcha secretary Bimla Sori, who filed a
complaint with the police, said: “The police refused to register a case when the family members of the
victim went to lodge a complaint. They even suggested that the family opt for a compromise,” Morcha
vice-president Kusum Naam said. Dantewada SP Pal claimed that it was a case of altercation being
distorted by local leaders for political mileage. “The victim was selling liquor in the weekly haat. The Mizo
police personnel had an altercation with her as she wanted more money for the liquor. How is it possible to
rape someone on the day of the haat when hundreds of people are present in the village?” he said. (Indian
Express 11/2/07)


Tribals indifferent to campaigning (6)
MEDINIPUR SQUARE (Ganjam district): Manifestoes and promises are just eyewash. This seems to be
the strong belief of even inhabitants of rural pockets. The Medinipur Square is the connecting point for
tribal villages Tamana, Medinipur, Singabadi, Sihala and Scheduled Caste dominated village Jugudi. The
high-decibel campaign with catchy slogans and racy numbers seems to have not evoked any interest in
the region. “We will exercise our franchise. But, we know for sure that the candidates will not take up the
issues they are raking up now for the sake of votes,” say several persons while enjoying a meal at a
roadside shop. Bijay Pradhan of Tamana cites the case of Ghatakeswar small-irrigation project, which is a
long-standing demand. “Foundation stone for the project was laid three times by leaders with much
fanfare. But it is yet to materialise,” he says. Jagannath Behera, who contested on BJP ticket in the last
elections and campaigning for the BJD now, intervenes saying: “We will submit a memorandum to the
Chief Minister over the matter when he comes to Lathi village.” Panchayat elections are won through
personal relations rather than tall promises, says the driver of a Congress campaign vehicle. While
campaigning was on at this square, tribals of Tamana village just a few km away were busy with their
day-to-day chores. (The Hindu 11/2/07)


Gehlot blames Raje for Rishabdev violence (6)
JAIPUR: Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot has held Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje “directly”
responsible for the developments that led to violence and the death of a tribal in police firing in Rishabdev
town last week. “If the Chief Minister had timely monitored the implementation of the Supreme Court order
on the management of the Rishabdev temple, the unfortunate situation would not have arisen,” he said.
Mr.Gehlot, who visited the affected areas on Monday, said the situation there was indicative of the
prevailing anarchy in Rajasthan during the past three weeks in which the State Cabinet had been fighting
the Chief Minister singularly and in groups. “The Ministers are openly levelling charges of corruption,
deceit and moral turpitude against one another. They have no time to govern after their preoccupations.
The people are paying a heavy price for their squabbles,” he said. Mr.Gehlot said the BJP-led
Government, with a bloody track record of 10 instances of police firing in three years in which 17 persons
were killed, had breached the age-old harmony among the tribals, the members of the Jain community
and the rest of the Hindus in Rishabdev area. “The BJP rule has fragmented the social fabric of
Rajasthan,” he charged. (The Hindu 15/2/07)


Panel to frame rules for Forest Rights Bill implementation (6)
NEW DELHI: The Union Tribal Affairs Ministry has set up a committee to frame rules for the
implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest
Rights) Act, 2006. The 19-member committee, headed by retired bureaucrat S.R. Sankaran, has been
asked to submit its draft report within three months. The finalisation of the report would take another
month before it was actually implemented, Union Tribal Affairs Secretary Meena Gupta told reporters here
on Monday. The committee members include officials from the Ministries of Tribal Affairs, Forests and
Environment, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj besides representatives of some State
Governments and experts. The Forest Rights Bill was passed in the winter session of Parliament and
received the President’s assent on December 29, 2006. The Act recognises and vests the forest rights
and occupation in forest land in forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who
have been residing in such forests for generations but whose rights could not be recorded. In this context,
the Ministry has convened a meeting of the State Ministers in charge of tribal affairs on Wednesday. Also,
the Ministry is finalising the National Tribal Policy and it is shortly expected to go to the Cabinet for
approval. The Ministry has revived its Tribal Sub-Plan that had fallen into disuse over the years due to lack
of implementation by the State Governments. The States have been asked to create a separate head for
the Tribal Sub-Plan — first started in 1974 — so that funds under this cannot be diverted. According to
Ms. Gupta the Ministry will also develop over 2,700 forest villages and an amount of Rs. 15 lakh per
village has been earmarked for the purpose. As many as 13 States will be covered under this scheme that
seeks to provide roads, electricity and water for these villages. .Further, the Ministry has also decided to
involve banks in disbursing loans to the tribals for income generation under the National Scheduled Tribes
Finance and Development Corporation which was earlier done only through the State Scheduled Tribe
Finances Corporation, and often faced blockages due to shortage of funds. (The Hindu 14/2/07)


Anantapur tribals decry felling of trees (6)
Bhubaneswar : Tribals at the Anantapur forest reserve in Dhenkanal district are taking up arms against
forest officials for the felling of 800 young and healthy trees. The tribals from Khajurinali and Chauliajharan
hamlets have decided not to allow any logs to be removed till a proper inquiry is ordered into what they
allege is illegal felling. They say the forest officials have threatened them with dire consequences. “The
officials told us that there’s no proof that we are legal settlers. They said they will carry the logs and then
file cases and send us all to jail,” said Ramchandra Murmu, a local. The tribals also say that in the past
they have been jailed for crimes committed by the timber mafia. “A similar thing happened years ago when
the officials felled trees but filed cases for illegal felling against us,” said Fagu Soren. A strict ban has
been imposed on felling of trees in the State’s forests for the past 16 years. The forest department was
given a temporary permission in 2005-06 to cut a limited number of damaged and diseased trees and
working plans were drawn up for 11 Forest Divisions. However, activists say the working plans were
completely ignored. “The Government spends so much money on forest conservation and takes huge
loans from the World Bank,” said Akshay Pani, Coordinator, Adivasi Kranti Sangathan. “In principle, a
forest so well protected by local tribals should not have been touched. Secondly, the norms for felling have
been violated by the forest department.” Despite repeated attempts, the Dhenkanal District Forest Officer
and Manager of the Forest Development Corporation refused to give their reaction on the matter. But it’s
clear that as the tribals wait for the State Government to institute an inquiry, their anger is rising with each
passing day. Pioneer 14/2/07)


Tribal land grab cases on rise in Jharkhand (6)
Ranchi : Jharkhand tribals are facing challenges from different corners. Their problem is evident from the
fact that their population is declining in the State while their land is grabbed in their homeland.
Anthropologists and social scientists are concerned about the declining population of tribals in general and
primitive tribes in particular. The tribal population has declined to 27 per cent in the State from 42 per cent
in 1951. The impact of the declining population trend is seen on the reserved seats of Assembly
constituencies. The Delimitation Commission has recommended decrease the reserved tribal seats in
Assembly from 28 to 21. The number of cases lodged by tribal people indicates that land grabbing by
non-tribals increased manifolds after creation of the State. The cases lodged under Special Area
Regulation Court (SPRC) have increased. In 2003-2004 a total of 2,608 cases were registered which went
up to 2,657 cases in 2004-2005. A total of 3,230 cases were registered in 2005-2006 and in 2006-2007 till
January this year the figure is 3,789. Tribal people lodge their cases under SPRC. The SPR court hears
the cases and fines people who are found guilty of land grabbing. If anyone has made construction on the
tribal plot then the court slaps a fine, which is given to the original owner (tribal). Two laws are in force to
protect the land rights of tribal people in the State -Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Parangan
Tenancy Act. Both Acts prevent sale of tribal land to non-tribals. “It is a game of money. Those who are
poor have no say in politics and they remain neglected and downtrodden and same is the case with tribal
people. Heavens were promised to tribal people before creation of the State and now their voices have
been crushed. Those who never participated in the Jharkhand movement are the ones who rule the State
now. And the poor (tribal) never figured in their agenda,” said father Benni Ekka, director of St Xavier
Institute of Social Service. (Pioneer 14/2/07)


Minister seeks quota for tribals in jobs (6)
New Delhi : The Minister for Tribal Welfare Kunwar Vijay Shah put forward a demand of reservation in
jobs for the tribals of Madhya Pradesh in proportion to their population in central services in the
‘Conference of States Ministers incharge of Tribal Welfare Development’ at New Delhi on Wednesday. He
also made a fervent plea for early approval of the proposed projects pending before the Union
Government as well as release of maximum funds for the welfare of tribals of the State. The schemes
being implemented by the State Government for the welfare of the tribals were lauded in the meeting. The
ministers of tribal welfare of various States attended the meeting presided over by the Union Minister for
Tribal Affairs PR Kindiya. Drawing attention of the Union Minister towards the fact that Madhya Pradesh
has a very little representation in the central services despite 20 per cent of the population is covered by
the tribals, Kunwar Shah stressed that Madhya Pradesh tribals should get proper representation in the
central services. He further mentioned that special focus should be laid while posting tribal officers in
Madhya Pradesh under the administrative services and Indian Police Services. There is no tribal battalion
under the defence department, although tribal population constitutes 8.2 per cent of the total population of
the country. Several tribal freedom fighters have sacrificed their lives in the freedom struggle. (Pioneer
15/2/07)


Tata gets additional 1,079 acres of land at K Nagar (6)
Bhubaneswar : Tata Steel, which had asked for an additional 1,079 acres in Kalinga
Nagar, is now happy with the State Government’s decision to meet its requirement. For
the last three years, the country’s largest private sector steel producer had been trying
to set up its six-million-tonne-per-annum (MTPA) steel plant in the face of the tribal
resistance. The company had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the
State Government on November 17, 2004 to set up the greenfield project. On January
2, 2006, 13 tribals opposing the land acquisition were killed in police firing. Since then,
the company has not been able to take up any major construction job in the area. Even
though the company has not been able to bring under its control the 2,400 acres for its
original steel facility, it in the meanwhile, asked the Government to allot an additional
1,079 acres to facilitate downstream industries, which are likely to come up at an
investment of Rs 3,300 crore. The downstream industries include cold-rolled products,
colour coated sheets and spiral welded pipes. The proposal was okayed at the recent
meeting of the State Level Single Window Clearance Authority (SLSWCA), said official
sources. Sources said that there was a hitch over the allotment of land because Jindal
Stainless Limited has also asked for an additional 400 acres adjacent to its project to
upgrade the 1.6-MTPA stainless steel plant to a 3.2-MTPA integrated steel project at
Kalinga Nagar. The SLSWA, however, decided to allot additional land to both the
companies to meet their requirements. Over and above the request for the additional
land, Tata Steel has also requested the Government to modify the MoU, which earlier
envisaged an investment of Rs 15,400 crore in the steel project. According to sources,
the Government has given the green signal in this regard and the MoU would be
modified soon. With this modification, an investment to the tune of Rs 18,700 crore by
Tata Steel in Kalinga Nagar gets the nod from the Government, admitted sources.
(Pioneer 20/2/07)


Koraput tribal group receives national award for plant protection (6)
Bhubaneswar : Panchavati Gramya Unnayana Samiti, an organisation of the tribal
farming communities of Koraput district has been selected for the Genome Saviour
Award for the protection of plant variety and Farmers Rights Authority (PP&FR) of the
Government of India. The Award is instituted under the PPV&FR Act to recognise and
reward communities and farmers for their contribution to genetic resources
conservation and improvement. The tribal community of Koraput has been elected for
this recognition for their outstanding and seminal contribution to conservation of plant
genetic resources particularly rice, in the biodiversity rich centres of South Orissa. The
Community representative of Koraput will receive the Award from the Union Agriculture
Minister Sharad Pawar at a glittering function in New Delhi on February 20. Chennai
based MS Swaminathan Research Foundation has been assisting the tribal
communities of Koraput for undertaking conservation of traditional rice . (Pioneer
20/2/07)


Rajasthan to create separate cadre for tribal development (6)
JAIPUR: The Rajasthan Government is considering establishing a separate
departmental cadre in the Tribal Area Development (TAD) Department to ensure
effective implementation of various projects and their completion on time. This will also
solve the problem of vacant posts in the department without fresh recruitments for long.
TAD Minister Kanakmal Katara, stating this while addressing a meeting of the
Scheduled Tribes Consultative Council in Udaipur on Monday, said attempts were
being made to utilise entire funds received in the Scheduled Tribes welfare head. He
said the works in the tribal areas were executed this year by using 15 per cent more
funds in comparison with last year. Mr. Katara said the works in the tribal areas were
presently being implemented through other departments in the absence of an executing
agency of the TAD Department. The method of execution will change with the creation
of a departmental cadre. The Minister, who released a booklet titled “Janjati Vikas”
(development of tribes) on the occasion, said the State Government had taken steps to
speed up development of the tribal-dominated regions by constructing roads, installing
hand pumps, reviving irrigation schemes and opening more schools. Mr. Katara said
the quality of education in residential schools would be improved to benefit the tribal
children and tribal fishermen of Jaisamand and Kadana areas would be provided
assistance. (The Hindu 21/2/07)


Bihar tribal women allegedly raped in UP village, nine arrested (6)
LUCKNOW, BALLIA, FEBRUARY 23 : Thirteen tribal women, including three minors, were allegedly
gang-raped late Wednesday night by a group of unidentified youths at a brick kiln in eastern UP’s Ballia
district. The incident came to light on Thursday when BJP MLA Ram Iqbal Singh informed the police of it.
The Bhimpur circle police have arrested nine persons, including the kiln’s owner and a clerk, and
recovered a large quantity of country-made liquor from the spot. An illegal distillery of country-made liquor
was being run from the kiln premises. “We had sent the women for medical examination and the report is
awaited,” said Aqramul Haq, the SP of Ballia. Dr Yog Maya Trivedi, the chief medical superintendent of
local Mahila Hospital, said the medical examination had been completed and confirmed that “some
women were found to have been raped”. She did not say how many. “Medical examinations on the minors
were also conducted,” she said. “We are making arrangements to send these tribal women to their native
places in Bihar once the examination are over,” said Haq. According to one of the victims, about 20 drunk
youths came to the brick kiln — run by a local businessman Guddu Singh — around 11.20 pm on
Wednesday night wearing masks and started molesting the women sleeping in their mud houses. When
the women’s relatives objected, a brawl broke out ending in the alleged rape of the 13 women. “They
threw our belongings and children out of the houses, beat up our men and raped me and other women,”
one of the victims told the The Indian Express. “When we came to know about the incident Thursday
afternoon, we immediately sent a team to the site,” said SP Haq. This morning, clerk Arun Kumar Singh
lodged an FIR. (Indian Express 24/2/07)


‘Tribals are aware of traditions’ (6)
Udaipur : The historic Lake City of Udaipur on Sunday witnessed one of the biggest congregations of
Adivasis, who gathered here to assert that they were very much a part of Hindus and all attempts to divide
them would be foiled. Organised by Rajasthan Vanvasi Kalayan Parishad of Sangh Parivar, the
congregation named as Rashtra Shakti Sammelan, was attended by about a lakh Adivasis of this
tribal-dominated southern part of Rajasthan. The venue, Maharana Bhopal Stadium was packed with
Advasis who had come in their colourful best costumes from the districts like Banswara, Dungarpur,
Chittorgarh, Slumber and Rajasamand. RSS Sarsanghchalak KC Sudarshan, as main speaker, said that
some Christian organisations are engaged in misleading the innocent tribals that they are not the part of
Hinduism and are trying to persuade them to convert to Christianity. “But they would not succeed in the
nefarious designs as there was now awareness among the tribals about their religion and traditions,” he
said. The Rashtra Shakti Sammelan was organised as a part of birth centenary celebration of RSS
Sarsanghchalal MS Golwalkar affectionately called Shri Guruji. The Parishad was preparing for the
congregation for the past many months. Sudarshan lauded the work of Parishad in this tribal populated
part of the State, which, he says, is the next target of missionary organisations, who are trying their best to
get their foothold here. (Pioneer 26/2/07)


Jharsuguda: Tribal families lose land without getting any compensation (6)
Jharsuguda : For the people of Jharsuguda, displacement has been a part of life. It
started with the first post-Independence multi-crore project, the Hirakud Dam in 1947
and continues till date. This has pushed the people not only to a future of uncertainty
but has forced upon them untold sufferings, with the landless people (Sukhbasis), who
have been enjoying Government land, having to part with the land with no benefits
coming forward to keep their kitchen fire burning. And the latest in the long list of the
ousted landless are 11 tribal families who are threatened with destitution by alumina
major Vedanta’s proposed 2,50,000-tonne smelter plant and a thermal power plant by
Sterlite in the villages of Burkhamunda and Brundamal, respectively, in the district. It
was in 1974, during the then Chief Minister Nandini Satpathy’s regime, that landless
Timen Bhue, Chanchal Bhue, Parsuram Bhue, Tulishram Kheti and Bhubaneswar Kheti
of village Banjari were given Government land. They were even issued with Records of
Right (Patta) duly recorded in the Hamid Settlement. And they enjoyed the fruits of it,
being unaware that the land subsequently had been recorded back as Government
land during the Major Settlement. This, despite the fact that mutation of the land was
pending since long. Meanwhile, Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL) applied for land for
their proposed projects and, accordingly, IDCO sought for alienation of 59.96 acres of
Government land under Banjari revenue village for the proposed plant. While 24.48
acres of land has already been transferred to VAL, the Revenue Department has given
permissive possession 24.83 acres of the balance land to IDCO. Surprisingly, these
lands include the land of those poor on whom CM Nandini Satpathy had bestowed
largesse. Although these tribals put forth their grievances during acquisition of the lands
by the Revenue Department in 2004 to the Jharsuguda Tehsildar, it has been two long
years and their fate hangs in balance, with the officials sitting over the matter. And for
these tribals, it now seems to be a case of ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’ The
situation is no better for those who were given ceiling-surplus land to eke out a living.
They have been rendered landless again, with VAL dumping soil on their little patches
of land, which has been alienated with least thought for them. Now, all of them seem to
be caught between the deep sea and the devil. They neither can opt to develop the
land nor can leave it, as it would snatch their livelihood from them. Moreover, with their
voices too feeble to be heard and not enough resources at their disposal to knock the
doors of the courts, they today just stand as mute spectators. And with records
reflecting the land they have been living on is Government’s, it is for sure that they will
be deprived of both compensation and any financial benefits that may keep them going.
But even though this concern was raised at the last RPDAC meeting held on October 9
last year, the big question is: Will justice ever be delivered to these tribals in the usual
process of law? (Pioneer 27/2/07)


Big package for Gujarat tribals announced (6)
GANDHINAGAR: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a
Rs.15,000-crore package for the all-round development of tribals in the State. Making a
statement in the Assembly here, Mr. Modi said the “Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana” would
be implemented in the next five years along with the 11th five-year plan to improve the
financial, educational and social standards of the Scheduled Tribes. He claimed that
while the State spent about Rs.6,500 croreunder the various tribal sub-plans in 27 years
since 1974, in the last five years the allocations under the tribal sub-plan was raised to
Rs.6,000 crore. But even this was not sufficient for the all-round development of the
neglected tribals who constitute about 15 per cent of the population spread over 43
talukas in the State. He said in a bid to reflect the aspirations of the tribals, his
government decided to formulate a separate scheme for their development. Claiming
that the yojana would become a “trend-setter” in the country, Mr. Modi also announced
a 10-point programme for the implementation of the scheme. Among the programmes
announced were opening job-oriented schemes in the tribal areas to help double their
income, offering educational facilities in all tribal areas for their children, laying pipeline
to connect all tribal villages for drinking water supply, providing necessary assistance to
encourage tribal farmers to shift to drip irrigation, providing houses for all homeless
tribals, electrification of the houses of poor tribals at the government’s cost and
all-weather road links to all tribal villages. (The Hindu 28/2/07)


Tribals enjoy the fruits of a life insured (6)
BERHAMPUR : Tribals, especially their women folk in remote areas of Gajapati district
have started to experience benefits of group insurance schemes. Balaji Sabar of
Badamasingi village of Kainpur panchayat under Rayagada block had never expected
his wife would help him financially even after her death. Balaji has received Rs.20,000
as death claim following the death of his wife, who had got enrolled in the Janashree
Bima Yojana of the Life Insurance Corporation. It is again the women Self Help Groups
(SHG) in tribal villages that have taken the lead. In Rayagada block 968 members of 80
women SHGs have enrolled their names in the `Janashree Bima Yojana’ scheme
paying yearly premium of Rs.100 for each member since 2004. As members of this
group insurance scheme these women are also getting extra benefit of the `Sikshya
Sahyog Yojana’ that is part and parcel of their group insurance scheme. Under this
scheme children of policy holders reading from class ninth to +2 get a scholarship of
RS.100 per month. Rambhi Guru of Gandahati village, whose son is reading in class X
is benefiting from it feels it is a great help for her son to pursue studies. “I was
overwhelmed when I came to know Rs.100 rupees invested by me would beget
Rs.1,200 per year for my son’s education,” she said. D. Jagannath Raju, president of
an NGO, Society for Welfare of Weaker Section (SWWS), which had motivated the
women SHGs to opt for group insurance schemes said women especially in tribal areas
are the real homemakers. Once they start understanding the benefits of a scheme it
easily percolates through to the general public. (The Hindu 28/2/07)


Rs 15,000 cr for Gujarat tribal development (6)
GANDHINAGAR, FEb 28: In a step apparently aimed at countering Congress’ thrust in the tribal region of
the State, Chief Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a grand Rs 15,000 crore plan for tribal development, in
the State Assembly on Tuesday. To be spent over the next five years, the ambitious ‘10-point Vanbandhu
Kalyan Yojana’ translates into Rs 3,000 crore per annum, which is close to 20 per cent of each year’s
annual plan size of the Government. Modi said the entire package would be implemented in a mission
mode beginning this year. In a clear sign that not all sections of the Government were not taken into
confidence over the ambitious project, Tribal Development Minister Mangubhai Patel, when questioned
from where the money would come for the scheme, expressed his inability to answer. “It is a CM’s
scheme and he would know the answer,” said the Minister. Leader of Opposition Arjun Modhvadia called it
a panic reaction of a Government worried by the massive turnout of tribals at last month’s Sonia Gandhi
rally in Devgadh Baria. Projects under the Yojana include broadband connection to all tribal talukas;
quality employment to five lakh tribal families; quality higher education through one science stream higher
secondary school in each tribal taluka, one Navodaya or Eklavya type school in each tribal taluka,
establishment of 100 more hostels for college students among others. (Indian Express 1/3/07)


Tribal students make merry (6)
BHUBANESWAR: Holi, the festival of colours, was celebrated with great enthusiasm by students of
Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) in the capital city on Saturday. The school offers free boarding
and education from primary to Plus Two science level to 3000 tribal children belonging to 28 tribes coming
from 30 districts of Orissa. The Holi celebration in the school was inaugurated by Scheduled Caste and
Scheduled Tribe Development Minister Chaitanya Prasad Majhi. A host of Oriya film personalities and
eminent persons also attended the celebrations and played Holi with the tribal boys and girls. (The Hindu
4/3/07)


Tribal leader held after leading dharna (6)
BHOPAL: A tribal leader, along with two others, was arrested this weekend after he went to the District
Collector’ s office at Betul in Madhya Pradesh with a large number of tribals to play Holi and draw the
Collector’s attention to their pending demands through “Gandhigiri.” The district president of the
Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Mangal Singh, had given advance information about the plan. The national
executive member of the Parishad, Anurag Modi, told The Hindu on Sunday that the tribals, on reaching
the Collector’s office at 4 p.m. on Saturday, found that Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code had been
imposed. They waited there for about an hour and left the place after distributing pamphlets. The
pamphlet said despite theiragitation, the Collector did nothing to address their demands that were linked to
the rate for plucking tendu leaf, below poverty line survey and irregularities in payment as well as granting
of compensation under the Employment Guarantee Act. When the tribals left the Collectorate, Mangal
Singh and two others were arrested near Nehru Park and sent to Betul Jail. (The Hindu 5/3/07)


Tribals to lift road blockade (6)
BHUBANESWAR: The Jajpur district administration heaved a sigh of relief on Monday with the agitating
tribals of Kalinga Nagar tribals agreeing to lift their road blockade agitation on Tuesday. Under the banner
of the Visthapan Virodhi Janmanch, the tribals of Kalinga Nagar had been blocking the Daitari-Paradip
highway at Kalinga Nagar since January 2 last year when 13 tribal men and women were killed in police
firing while opposing construction of a boundary wall for the proposed steel plant project of Tata Steel. The
leaders of the Janmanch agreed to lift the road blockade after they discussed their grievances with District
Collector Arabinda Kumar Padhee and other officials at a meeting held at Kalinga Nagar. About 25
representatives of the Janmanch attended the meeting. Talking to The Hindu over the phone, Mr. Padhee
expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the meeting. “The peace initiative that we attempted sincerely
and proper implementation of the resettlement and rehabilitation measures paid dividends,” he said.
According to Mr. Padhee, the tribals were assured that the chopped off limbs of a few firing victims will be
returned to their families on Tuesday. It was also agreed that the ex gratia payments will be paid to the
next of kin of the 12 tribals who were killed in the police firing. One of the 13 families had accepted the ex
gratia amount earlier. It was also decided that all those who had sustained injuries in the police firing will
also be paid ex gratia amount of Rs. 50,000 each. As regards the withdrawal of cases registered against
the tribals, the authorities assured that the Government has taken a lenient view and the cases were being
reviewed. Some cases will be withdrawn as per the law. The district administration had been desperately
trying to win over the tribals to put an end to the road blockade agitation as the High Court had fixed
March 9 as the deadline for lifting the blockade. The High Court had passed the order while hearing a
public interest petition on the issue. Although the Janmanch has said it would continue its agitation against
displacement in the area, they have told the administration to continue the dialogue process till their
demands were fulfilled (The Hindu 6/3/07)


Tribal refugees continue hunger strike in Tripura (6)
Hundreds of tribal refugees, who have been on a hunger strike in Tripura seeking repatriation to Mizoram,
refused on Monday to call off their agitation, despite appeals by the State Government. “We shall continue
our fast-unto-death agitation till our problem is resolved permanently,” said Elvis Chorkhy, president of the
Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum. Some 300 tribal refugees launched the indefinite hunger strike
on Friday after resorting to a week-long sit-in demonstration near the Raj Bhavan here. Over 33,000
Reang (locally called ‘Bru’) tribal refugees have been living in six north Tripura camps since October 1997
after they fled Mizoram following ethnic clashes with the majority Mizos. An all-party delegation from the
Tripura Assembly led by Chief Minister Manik Sarkar met the striking refugee leaders and requested them
to withdraw their agitation. Earlier on Monday, the Assembly passed a unanimous resolution urging the
refugees to withdraw their stir. “The Tripura Government, all the political parties in the State and the Union
Government are sympathetic towards your cause and struggle. New Delhi has taken certain steps to solve
your problems,” Sarkar told the agitating refugee leaders. The Chief Minister said Union Home Secretary
VK Duggal and Joint Secretary (Northeast Affairs) Naveen Verma were arriving in Aizawl Thursday and
then visit Agartal Tuesday to discuss the refugee crisis. Tripura Chief Secretary Shashi Prakash also held
a series of talks over phone with the union home ministry and requested it to take urgent steps to end the
crisis.Khagen Das, Lok Sabha member from Tripura, also met the Reang tribal leaders. In April 2005, the
Mizoram government and the militant Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) signed an agreement after 13
rounds of talks to solve the decade-old ethnic crisis, leading to the surrender of about 1,040 militants of
the BNLF and Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram (BLFM).Both the rebel outfits have been fighting for setting
up an autonomous council for the refugees. (Pioneer 6/3/07)
Orissa tribals lift highway blockade (6)
Bhubaneswar, March 6: Bisthapan Birodhi Janamanch, the tribal organisation that has been spearheading
the blockage of the Daitary-Paradip national highway since January 2, 2006, has finally agreed to relent
from its 14-month long agitational activities. The Janamanch leaders on Tuesday received the chopped off
palms of their relatives and announced to lift the road blockade on Wednesday. As per the practice, the
doctors — who conducted post-mortem on the body of the police firing victims, had dismembered the
palms of the slain tribals as their identity could not be ascertained then. Although efforts were made earlier
to return the palms of the victims to their kith and kin, the latter had disowned the same saying the
chopped off organs did not belong the killed tribals. The ice was broken when the much awaited dialogue
between agitating tribals of Kaliga Nagar and Jajpur collector Arabinda Padhi took place on Monday for an
amicable solution to the crisis arising after the January 2 police firing incident. Despite road blockade, the
Janamanch has, however, been allowing vehicular traffic, except trucks, to ply on the road for the last
couple of months. All ground levelling and construction activities of the proposed Tata steel plant in the
industrial complex area had been brought to a halt by the triabl agitation. It may be mentioned here that
the firing incident took place when the tribals opposing construction of boundary walls of Tata steel project
clashed with the police. Tata Steel, after signing memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state
government, is facing tough time to make up with the agitating triabls, who are opposing to hand over the
land in favour of the steel company. After two futile attempts over the last week, the district administration
was successful in getting the Janmanch leaders to the negotiation table on Monday. A twenty-member
delegation led by the Janamanch general secretary Rabindra Jarika headed the talks with the
administration which lasted for three hours. The collector informed the tribals about the high court order
directing the district administration and the state government to lift the road blockade and said that
everyone had to obey the court’s directive. Mr Jarika, however, said their outfit would continue the road
blocked till the government withdrew all cases registered against the tribals, issuance death certificate to
the kith and kin of those who were killed in police firing and the return of palms — chopped off the victims
— to their families. A letter was given to the Janmanch assuring them of sympathetic and lenient review of
all cases registered against the tribals. These apart, death certificates and post-mortem certificates were
also assured to be handed over to the deceased’s families. (Asian Age 7/3/07)


K Nagar tribals demand further talks with CM (6)
Bhubaneswar/Jajpur : Contrary to the expectation that the agitating Kalinga Nagar tribals would lift their
14-month-old road blockade from Tuesday, the Visthapan Virodhi Janmanch made a condition that any
decision to this effect would only be taken after another round of talks between its leaders and Chief
Minister Naveen Patnaik. In this connection, Secretary Visthapan Virodhi Janmanch, Rabindra Jarika
faxed a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday. They also renewed their demands and
demanded that the compensation amount for the families of the deceased of the police firing should be
enhanced from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh and jobs to the members of the concerned families. They also
urged the Government to pay Rs 1 lakh to the concerned family for each pair of chopped-off palms so
they would be able to cremate it with required rituals. All these demands have created uncertainty over the
lifting of the road blockade in a peaceful manner. However, after the Janmanch, the umbrella outfit of the
agitating tribals, softened their anti-Government stand, its members on Tuesday received the chopped-off
palms of the tribals killed in the January 2, 2006 police firing from the district administration. Returning of
the chopped-off palms was one of the major demands of the tribals, who have been staging the road
blockade on the Daitary-Paradeep Express Highway , since the police firing incident. A 15-member
delegation of the Janmanch, led by its president Chakradhar Haiburu, received the five pairs of
chopped-off palms of the tribals kept with the district administration since January 2 last year after 13
tribals were gunned down by the police while opposing construction of a boundary wall for the proposed
project of Tata Steel. Amid a storm of protests, the doctors, who conducted the postmortem on the firing
victims’ bodies, were suspended by the Government. Earlier, the district authorities had failed to hand over
the palms after the tribals expressed their doubts over the genuineness of the limbs. It was decided at a
meeting between Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the tribals in Bhubaneswar on January 31 this year
that the limbs would be returned after forensic testing. Janmanch secretary Rabindra Jarika said, “We
cannot obey any decision if it affects our life and livelihood. The agitation against the industrialisation will
continue unless we get a written assurance from the Chief Minister.” The Janmanch leaders further said
the opposition to the steel project would continue. (Pioneer 7/3/07)


Tribals lift road blockade (6)
BHUBANESWAR: The tribals of Kalinga Nagar in Jajpur district of the Orissa lifted their road blockade
agitation in the wee hours of Friday much to the relief of the Naveen Patnaik Government. Secretary of the
Visthapan Virodhi Janmanch said that the blockade had been lifted showing respect to the High Court
order, but the movement against displacement by the proposed steel plant project of Tata Steel will
continue in the area. As per their announcement made on Thursday evening, the office-bearers of the
Janmanch and a large number of men and women from the nearby villages gathered at the blockade site
near Ambagadia village around midnight and removed the obstruction from the Daitari-Paradip highway
around 2 a.m. The tribals, who lifted the blockade after performing a puja ceremony, vowed to continue
their agitation against displacement by industries in their locality. High Court, which had earlier directed the
State Government to remove the road blockade, had fixed Friday as the deadline for implementing its
orders. When the case came up before the Court at Cuttack, counsel for the State Government submitted
that the blockade had been lifted. In Bhubaneswar, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed satisfaction
over the lifting of the road blockade by the tribals of Kalinga Nagar. The Janmanch, however, has clarified
that it would strongly oppose all activities of Tata Steel in their area till the various demands of the
Janmanch were fulfilled by the State Government. “We will not give our land and houses for any industry
in the area,” Mr. Jarika said. Meanwhile, the Finance Department of the State Government gave its nod to
a proposal mooted by the Home Department to raise new force to be named Industrial Security Force.
Initially, the force will have around 500 personnel. Funds are being allocated to facilitate creation of the
new force which will be deployed in various industrial hubs of the State to maintain law and order, a senior
government official said after a high level meeting held on Friday. People’s opposition to setting up of new
industries at various places and frequent law and order problems in different industrial hubs in the recent
months had made the authorities to go in for creating the new force, sources said. (The Hindu 10/3/07)


`Protect livelihood of displaced tribals’ (6)
BHUBANESWAR: Noted writer and Magsaysay awardee Mahasweta Devi on Sunday called for protection
of livelihood of tribal population in the wake of fast industrialisation in different States, particularly in Orissa
and West Bengal. The people who had been evicted due to industrial projects in Kalinga Nagar and such
other areas should be provided with all basic amenities, including houses, electricity, drinking water,
schools, approach roads and health facilities, Ms. Devi said. Speaking at the prize-giving ceremony of the
23rd Bhubaneswar Book Fair here, the octogenarian writer also said tribal and marginalised sections of
society should be brought under various welfare programmes. She focused on the Singur, where the Tata
Group was planning to put up a car project. Ms. Devi said, while thousands of cars could be produced
from a facility on 300 acres of land at Gurugaon in Haryana, why the West Bengal Government was
handing over 1,000 acres of fertile land. “I was happy with the way villagers came out to protest against
land acquisition. When I visited Singur some 15,000 villagers gathered to say that they would not give
away their land. It was more heartening to note that most of these protesters were women,” she said. The
Jnanpeeth winner criticised West Bengal for “indiscriminately” handing over land to different industrial
houses such as Tata, Salim and Jindal groups. Ms. Mahasweta Devi, who was conferred Arya Vedanta
award at the function, declared that the prize money would go for the welfare of a primitive tribe of West
Bengal. Speaking on the occasion, former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray said the writers should make
efforts to enrich Oriya language and encourage budding writers. The book fair would come to an end on
Monday. (The Hindu 12/3/07)


Villagers protest against curbs on access to forest resources (6)
BHUBANESWAR: A group of 500 villagers residing inside the Badrama Wildlife Sanctuary in Sambalpur
district took to the streets on Monday demanding better access to natural resources. The inhabitants of
remote villages submitted a memorandum to district magistrate L N Nayak describing the painful life they
had been leading inside the forest area. “The residents critically depend on collection of various
non-timber forest produces (NTFPs) for their sustenance. Restrictions of forest department on collection
of NTFPs inside the sanctuary area have led to serious livelihood crisis for villagers ,” convenor of
Badrama Sanctuary Bikash Parishad (BSBP) Dusmant Kumar Pradhan said. He alleged that the
Government welfare programmes, including NREGP had not been extended to these villagers. “The
problems get further complicated when the forest department charge entry fee on villagers. We are
branded like a criminals on our own land,” Mr. Pradhan said. The BSBP demanded immediate
implementation of The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest
Right Act 2006) that provided greater access to forest resources. (The Hindu 13/3/07)


Tribals can contest from SC seats, says Centre (6)
New Delhi, March 12: The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that it would not have any objection
if Scheduled Tribes (STs) candidates contested from constituencies reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs)
during the ensuing elections in Uttar Pradesh. However, such concession might create considerable
dichotomy in the long run as the STs, who are seeking such benefits, are at present availing various other
educational and service benefits under the ST quota, additional solicitor-general Gopal Subramaniam told
a bench of Justices C.K. Thakker and V.S. Sirpurkar. The bench, which heard the arguments of the
government and senior counsel Shanti Bhushan, who appeared for the petitioner Vijay Singh Gond and
the Adiwasi Giriwasi Samiti Duddhi, said it would pronounce its interim order on Tuesday. (PTI) (Asian
Age 13/3/07)


Parents starve tribal baby girls to death (6)
Parigi (Andhra Pradesh), March 13: Eleven newborn girls were starved to death in the past one year by
their parents in a tribal village of Ranga Reddy district, 80 km from Hyderabad. The tribals of the Lambada
sect in Cheruvu Mundali Tanda of Kulkacharla mandal let the infants die by refusing to feed them. It is a
long-standing practice of the tribals to wrap up girls in a piece of cloth and leave them to die. They cherish
only male babies and consider daughters to be an economic burden. In fact, the villagers did not have any
qualms in admitting that they let the poor infants die. “My wife Bhagyamma gave birth to a female baby for
the third time,” said Jarpula Peerya Nayak, 27, of the village. “A daughter is a burden and we decided not
to feed her. So she died.” Jarpula Nayak hastened to add that he did not kill the baby by smothering her or
strangling her. “We just let her die,” he added. “It is very difficult to bring up girls and marry them off.” His
cousin, J. Ravi, and his wife Sujatha also let their newborn baby girl starve to death. This happened on
February 25. “My daughter died two days after birth since we did not feed her,” admitted Ravi. “We already
have two girls and can’t afford to have one more.” After starving and killing the baby girls, the tribals dig a
grave in their fields and bury them. Then they put a stone on the grave. Villagers said that dogs had eaten
parts of the body of Ravi’s daughter and he had to bury her again. Most of the 40-odd families in the
village have either witnessed such killings or have performed it themselves over the years. Jarpula Lokya
Nayak, brother of MPTC Pentya Nayak, is also learnt to have starved to death two girls. Most of the
infants starved to death were the third or fourth daughters of couples. Female infanticide is also practised
at Rokatigutta Tanda of Ipavapalli panchayat, Gorigadda Tanda of K. Samudram and Nerellagadda
Tanda. On March 9, schoolteachers, with the help of an NGO activist of Gorigadda Tanda, prevented K.
Buggamma and Pandya Nayak from killing their fifth child, which also turned out to be a daughter.
“Buggamma had said beforehand that she would kill the child if it was female,” said Rajesh Rathod,
headmaster of the Government Upper Primary School in Gorigadda Tanda. “After the baby was born, we
told her that Goddess Lakshmi had come to her home. Only after that did she feed the baby.” Kulkacharla
deputy mandal revenue officer Y.B.N. Avataram said that the recurrent infanticide had not come to his
notice so far. “We will conduct an inquiry into this,” he said. Parigi inspector P. Maheswar also said that he
came to know of the killing of the infants through media representatives. “The villagers told our constables
that the babies were stillborn or were premature,” he said. “We haven’t booked any cases so far.”
Keshulamma, a midwife of Cheruvu Mundali Tanda, said that she had delivered 11 female babies in her
village recently but all of them had “died” soon after. Strangely enough, the main reason cited by parents
for killing the girls is the huge expense of marrying them off, maybe 20 years later. “We have to give a
scooter, five to six tolas of gold and Rs 50,000 cash to a good groom,” said a villager. “How many people
can afford that?” Because of this, villagers turn a deaf ear even if they hear the heart-rending cries of an
unfed child on the throes of death. …….. (Asian Age 14/3/07)


Congress complains to Central Tribal Commission (6)
JAIPUR: The Congress has complained to the Central Tribal Commission about “discriminatory” treatment
being meted out by the BJP-led Government in Rajasthan to tribals in providing relief. While the families of
the victims of police firing elsewhere in the State were given Rs.5 lakh each, the kin of Ram Lal, killed in
police firing in Rishhabdev town last month, was given only Rs.1 lakh, it has pointed out. In a
representation to the Chairman of the Tribal Commission, Pradesh Congress Committee general
secretary Ashk Ali Tak alleged, “Even in the matter of awarding compensation to the deceased in police
firing a tribal is discriminated against in Rajasthan.” After the police firings at Gharsana in Sriganganagar
in October and December 2004 in which six persons were killed, the families were given a relief of Rs.5
lakh each. Similarly, in Tonk district where five persons were killed in police firing in June 2005, a solatium
of Rs.5 lakh each had been paid to the kin, Mr. Tak said. The family of Ram Lal, a tribal who belonged to
Dhelana village in Kherwara tehsil of Udaipur, was paid only Rs.1 lakh, Mr. Tak pointed out. “Without
going into the un-justifiability of police firing, which is a separate issue, the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress
Committee submits that even in tragedies the BJP State Government is not desisting from making
discrimination against Adivasis,” he added. (The Hindu 14/3/07)


Jharkhand tribals protest near Parliament (6)
NEW DELHI: Representatives of the Scheduled Tribes from Jharkhand held a protest demonstration at
Parliament Street here on Wednesday demanding that the number of seats in the Assembly be increased
and also that the present proportion of the Scheduled Tribes reserved seats be maintained. The
protesters claimed that villagers in the area were being illegally dispossessed of their lands by the defence
establishment, the Airports Authority of India and the Steel Authority of India. Addressing the gathering,
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat said a petition listing the problems of the people
had been submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and he had promised that the matter would be
looked into. “What the people here are demanding are their rights. A letter from the Defence Ministry
states that the land in and around Ranchi airport belongs to the defence establishment and that the
villagers have no legal right over it and that members of the Scheduled Tribes have encroached on it. We
are asking for a re-look into the matter,” said Ms. Karat. As for their demand for increasing the number of
seats in the Legislative Assembly, Ms. Karat said: “We spoke about the problem to the Prime Minister and
he said that a committee will be constituted to look into the matter. We also want the Government to
provide rice and wheat at competitive prices to the villagers. We will continue to raise our voice till the
Government addresses the needs of the villagers.” The demonstration was also addressed by several
tribal representatives including Ramnika Gupta, Sukhnath Lohra and Surjeet Sinha who spoke about the
“sufferings of the people of Jharkhand.” “People are being deprived of their democratic rights and are not
being allowed to participate in developmental activities as the Government is not holding panchayat
elections in the State. We want to know why the Government has not yet looked into our problems?” said
Ramnika Gupta. CPI (M) leader J.S. Majumdar was present. (The Hindu 15/3/07)


PM assures adivasi seats: Brinda (6)
New Delhi, March 15: The political bureau member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI (M) and
member of Parliament, Brinda Karat, on Thursday said that the Prime Minis ter Manmohan Singh has
assured her of protection to the adivasi ‘seats. Ms Karat had met the Prime Minister on Wednesday and
submitted a memoran dum. “I am relieved after the assurance from the Prime Minister,” Ms Karat said.
She was addressing a press con ference at the CPI (M) headquarters in capital. “After we submitted the
mem orandum to the Prime Minister, he said that he finds no problem as to why it should not be done”. Ms
Karat said the Prime Minister has assured her that the entire population in the adivasi sched uled areas
would be brought under the 5th schedule of the Constitution. Five hundred adivasi’s from Jhark-hand had
come to Delhi on Wednesday and protested in front of the Parlia ment. The protesting adivasis, led by the
CPI (M), were saying that they are losing the assembly seats, scheduled areas, land, jobs and food. They
were also saying that their condition hasn’t improved even after the UFA govern ment came to power. The
adivasi delegation also met the Union home minister Shiv Raj Patil and submitted the memorandum to
him. The adivasis had put forth five major demands in their memorandum that was submitted to the Prime
Minister and home minister. (Asian Age 16/3/07)


Terror-stricken night for tribal children (6)
Ranibodili: There were 48 girls, all of them tribal children, staying in the same building, with only a wall
separating them from the khaki-clad policemen and the Special Police Officers. Not a single bullet was
embedded in the wall. The girls mostly belong to the Moriya tribe, generally known to be sympathetic to
the Maoists. The three hours was nerve-wracking, though, as they cried out for help, hiding under their
cots. The minute the gunfire shattered the stillness of the night, their teacher, S.R. Thakur, closed the
doors and took the little ones into his arms. He helped them remain calm under the cots, as they waited
for help that did not come. Eventually, he brought them out only after the sounds of bullets and the
explosion of the smoke bombs died out. They were later shifted to the Somanpalli Ashram School. (The
Hindu 17/3/07)


7 families ostracized as girls take HSC exam (6)
Balangir: Seven families of the Chakotia Bhunjia tribe in Orissa have been ostracised i by their community
for break ing rules — allowing their daughters to appear for the HSC examination. Tribals of Sanbahali village
in Sunabeda sanctuary ostracised the families after Chandini Chhatria, Jayashri Jhankar and Tribeni
Jhankar, who could not succeed in the examination last year, ap peared for it again this year. Another girl
Laila Chhatria also appeared along with them. Education is not en couraged among tribals. It was only a
few years ago that some Chakotia Bhunjia boys appeared for the HSC examination for the first time.
Nowadays, girls are also being sent to school but dropout once they attain puberty, said Kama Chhatria, a
tribal. The community is enraged as some families have allowed their daughters to sit for the ex amination.
“We have ostracised them because they didn’t follow our customs and traditions. They also sent their
daughters out side the village to appear for the test, which is against our tradition,” said another mem ber
Chaitanya Jhankar. (Times of India 18/3/07)


Chhattisgarh pilot project gives wing to a tribal dream (6)
Raipur, March 23: Hailing from the tribal heartland of Bastar, Ankur Ekka or her family has never set foot
in an aeroplane. Now, if a Chhattisgarh government plan takes off, she will soon be one of a group of 10
tribal girls from the state working as airhostesses. The small step might also prove the giant leap tribals,
who form 44 per cent of the state’s population, need for integration into the mainstream. “The entire
process has been like a revelation to me and my parents,” says an excited Ankur. State Tribal Welfare
Minister Ganesh Ram Bhagat, the brain behind the pilot project, says the government will bear the cost of
training the girls. “We will be spending an amount of about Rs 1 lakh on each of these girls. However, this
amount is nothing when we consider the fact that they will be breaking new ground,” says Bhagat. The first
batch of 10 girls, selected under the project, will begin training at Air Hostess Academy, a private institute
in Raipur, soon. The applicants had to be between 17 and 24 years of age, have a pleasing personality,
good communication skills, and should have at least passed Class XII. Christina Lal, who hails from the
tribal majority district of Dhamtari, says what’s driving her is the memory of the late Kalpana Chawla. “I
think there is a definite correlation between our cases as both of us tried for a profession that has not
generally been associated with our communities, in her case as a woman and in my case as a tribal,”
Christina says. The government will be lobbying with private airlines for a job for each of these girls once
they are through with the training. “Unless we are able to secure a job for each of these trained students
we won’t consider our responsibility complete,” says Secretary, Tribal Welfare Department, M K Raut.
(Indian Express 24/3/07)


Tribals to hold maha rally on April 29 (6)
Rourkela : The tribals of Kuarmunda Block in Sundargarh district observed March 24, 2007 as Kranti
Diwas following the completion of one-year of their demonstration against the sponge iron factories,
protesting against environmental pollution and other four issues. The have also decided to organise a
maha rally in Kuarmunda on April 29. One year ago, thousands of tribals of Kuarmunda Block
demonstrated before the Neepaz Steel and other five factories under the leadership of former Biramitrapur
MLA and Sundargarh district former BJD president George Tirkey on five issues: employment to local
youth, save environment, proper compensation to displaced, peripheral development and no further
displacement. Later the movement turned violent and the demonstrators ransacked the six sponge units.
Even the Sub-Collector Panposh was severely injured. To rein in the violence, police lathicharged and on
the FIRs of different victims arrested more than hundred tribals including George Tirkey and eight school
going children – released on bail after three months on the direction of Orissa High Court. The
demonstrations continued thereafter and even spread to different part of the District against displacement
and pollution alleging Government’s non-chalance to their demands. On Saturday at Kuarmunda
Inspection Bungalow, to commemorate their anniversary of the movement and also to chart the future
course of action, a meeting had been organised, where the participants agreed on to accelerate their
movement in the coming days for the cause of tribals. A steering committee, taking two representatives
from each GP of the twenty GPs under Kuarmunda GP, was formed to orchestrate the plans decided
upon. Earlier the Local Displaced Association for RSP and Mandira Dam had given a call to go for
economic blockade. Experts see the call of the tribal meet to hold a mega rally could be a testing time for
the administration and political parties. Meanwhile, apprehending law and order problem, police had
cordoned the area of Neepaz Steel and Kuarmunda IB area as a precautionary measure. (Pioneer
27/3/07)


K Nagar tribal team reaches Nandigram (6)
Jaipur : Despite the 24-hour detention by the West Bengal Police at the Kharagpur railway station, a
38-member Kalinga Nagar tribal delegation reached Nandigram in East Medinapur district that hit the
headlines recently after 14 farmers were killed in violence over land acquisition on Monday evening. The
delegation consisting of some woman members headed by Visthapan Virodhi Janmanch general
secretary Rabindra Jarika were detained at the railway station on Sunday, as they were heading towards
Nandigram on the show Puri-Howrah Express, to express their solidarity with the family members of the
victims, who had died in the police firing. “We were surprised. About 40 police personnel, many of them in
civilian clothes, surrounded us at Kharagpur railway station and asked why we were going to Nandigram.
We told them we were going to express our solidarity with the people of Nandigram. But they herded us
into a waiting van,” said Amar Singh Banara, one of the delegation members over telephone after
reaching the destination. West Bengal Police swung into action after reportedly getting an alert message
from their Orissa counterpart. The tribals ran into trouble when they got off the Puri-Howrah Express at
Kharagpur around 3 am. Banara said that the delegation was interrogated by the police. He added, “police
looked keen to know if the tribal group had any links with Maoists. Though they gave us food, they did not
allow us to move out.” Vista pan Virodhi Janmanch president Chakradhar Haiburu (Senior) said, “The
West Bengal police’s action on our delegation is unfortunate and as an attempt to ‘curb the democratic
rights’. There is no difference between Kalinga Nagar and Nandigram. Hence the people of Kalinga Nagar
thought it was their duty to stand by the people of Nandigram in their hour of crisis. Nandigram tribals had
come here to console us after the ghastly police firing. Our men had gone there to empathise with them
on humanitarian point of view, as a friend in need. Besides, the delegation will express our solidarity with
the farmers who are agitating against the Left Front Government’s bid to procure land for Indonesian
based Salem Group.” Palpable tension prevailed in the tribal-dominated villages in the industrial complex
area as the news of the detention tribals by the police at the railway station reached here. (Pioneer
28/3/07)


Naxal attacks a nightmarish experience for tribal families (6)
MARAIGUDEM: The raids by the CPI (Maoist) on a police station and adjacent Salwa Judum base camp,
housing about 1,600 tribal families, at Maraigudem in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh from March 24 to
27 has caused considerable alarm. The families were displaced in the wake of confrontation between the
extremist group and the State-sponsored Salwa Judum campaign. The raids were spearheaded by an
assault group of 70 naxalites, accompanied by about 1,000 members of the party’s village level
“sanghams.” The naxalites, camping in nearby forests, launched attacks only after nightfall. They hurled
petrol and soap bombs and resorted to heavy firing. It was a nightmarish experience for the inmates of the
tribal settlement, which lacks basic amenities. There is no power supply either at the camp or in the police
station. Dantewada Collector K.R. Pisda visited the camp on Tuesday and assured the inmates that all
steps to protect their lives. They made a representation him, urging that the camp be shifted either to
Gollapali or Konta, division headquarters. Mr. Pisda said their request would be looked into. The first
attack was launched in the early hours of March 24. The Salwa Judum activists responded quickly and
retaliated with bows and arrows. About 60 youths, designated as special police officers and armed with
.303 rifles, thwarted the attack. The fierce fighting lasted for about three hours. A Central Reserve Police
Force unit camping in the village and some 30 personnel of the State civil and armed police joined the
SPOs in beating back the Maoists. A CRPF officer said the naxalites suffered heavy casualties.
Explosives, a .303 rifle and Rs. 27,000 were recovered. Maoists laid siege to the village again the next
night. There was sporadic firing all through the night, with the naxalites retreating to the forests at 5 a.m.
So was the case on the third and fourth day. No reinforcements could be sent to Maraigudem as the area
lacked proper roads. Some of the panic-stricken camp inmates have started migrating to safer places.
The youth, shouldering the task of fortifying the camp, were engaged in the last few days in putting up
wooden barricades to block the free passage of intruders. (The Hindu 29/3/07)


Tension prevails in Kalinga Nagar industrial complex (6)
BHUBANESWAR: Tension prevailed in Kalinga Nagar Industrial Complex in Jajpur district on Monday
following the death of a tribal youth who was injured in police firing on January 2 last year. The victim
Kisan Buliuli, aged about 25 years, breathed his last at the Shriram Chandra Bhanja Medical College at
Cuttack late on Sunday evening. As many as 13 tribal men and women had been killed when police
opened fire on the agitating tribals, who were opposing construction of a boundary wall for he proposed
steel plant project of Tata Steel. As the body of the victim reached Kalinga Nagar, hundreds of tribal men
and women blocked the Daitari-Paradip highway alleging that Buliuli died due to negligence on the part of
the authorities who failed to provide him necessary medical help. The office-bearers of the Visthapan
Virodhi Janmanch, the organisation that is spearheading the anti-displacement agitation in the locality,
alleged that the victim was got not given adequate medical attention when he was admitted to a local
government hospital on Saturday. Buliuli, who was treated at the SCB Medical College after he received
bullet injuries last year, was ailing and continued to suffer from fever most of the time, Janmanch
secretary Rabindra Jarika said. The victim, who hailed from Chandia village of Kalinga Nagar area, was
married and is survived by his pregnant wife. As the tribals continued to block the road from around 1 p.m.
demanding adequate compensation for the family of the deceased, the district administration officials
assured that Buliuli will be treated as a firing victim and his wife would be given necessary governmental
support, Mr Jarika said. The authorities also assured to provide medical care to 38 other tribals, who had
been injured in the police firing. Of the 38 persons, 18 had received serious injuries in the incident, Mr.
Jarika said. The tribals lifted the road blockade around 7 p.m. after the body of Buliuli was cremated and
assurances were given by the authorities to fulfill their demands. The road blockade agitation by the tribals
of Kalinga Nagar, which started on the day of the firing incident last year, was lifted on the night of March
8. The Janmanch lifted the road blockade showing respect to a High Court order on the issue. (The Hindu
3/4/07)


Tribal-friendly, eco-unfriendly (6)
With the popularity of the Raman Singh government at its lowest, over the past few months Bharatiya
Janata Party leaders have been busy finding innovative ways to appease and consolidate the party vote
bank. In a step that is being widely viewed as an attempt to maintain its dominance among the tribal
population of Chhattisgarh, the government has decided to drop criminal charges against 2,20,613 people,
registered under various forest and wildlife protection laws. Of these, 1,08,890 are Scheduled Tribes,
while 36,298 belong to the Scheduled Caste community. With this move, the government is set to lose Rs
12.76 crore in terms of fines imposed on the suspects booked under the various forest and wildlife
protection laws. While the entire nation is protesting loss of tree cover and illegal poaching, this step taken
by the Raman Singh government has only been successful in shielding criminals involved in destruction of
forest resources. However, the chief minister defends his decision to drop the charges by saying that “a
majority of these cases had been pending for many years and as most of these offenders were involved in
minor crimes, we decided to let them off with a warning.” BJP sources said the recent losses in
Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha and Kota Assembly bypolls led to this step to shield the tribal population. “While
the Congress has maintained a stronghold in the non-tribal districts, the BJP doesn’t want to lose its hold
over tribal constituencies, which have been our supporters,” the sources added. They pointed out that the
Bharatiya Janata Party was brought to power in the last Assembly polls due to the votes it received from
Scheduled Tribes constituencies. It won 26 ST seats, while the Congress could only secure eight seats.
Surprisingly, the state Congress has been silent over the issue. No senior leader is willing to go on record
to criticise the government since the Scheduled Tribes enjoy an overwhelming majority in the state with
about 35 per cent of the total population being classified under the category. However, animal lovers and
conservationists have been crying foul in what is being termed as government’s “political stand over the
issue”. Though the Raman Singh government repeatedly claims that the state has one of the highest
green covers in the country, with about 45 per cent of its total area under forests, such policies could
cause the state to lose its precious forest cover. (Indian Express 5/5/07)


Tribals protest runway expansion (6)
Tribals in Jharkhand are up in arms against the State Government’s decision to extend the runway of
Ranchi airport. The expansion plan will require acquisition of around 210 acres of land belonging to the
tribals. A team of tribals, along with CPI(M) leaders, had last month met Defence Minister AK Antony over
the issue. They requested him that the land of the tribal people not be taken over for the project. “Around
2,000 acres of land was acquired by the defence coordination committee in 1942. The land was not
acquired under the Land Acquisition Act 1894 and the tribals were not given compensation,” said Gyan
Shankar Mazumdar, CPI(M) Jharkhand unit general secretary. A major part of the land was later
transferred to the Civil Aviation Ministry and some of it remains with the Defence Ministry. Mazumdar
claimed that many tribal families still pay land revenue and possess the original land papers. A case is
also pending in the Jharkhand High Court over the issue. The tribals are pressing for two demands.
Firstly, the acquisition of fresh land be stopped and secondly, the land acquired in 1942, which is lying
unused, be given to displaced people. (PIONEER 7/4/07)


Tribal Council for scrapping of Polavaram (6)
BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa’s Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) on Tuesday unanimously passed a
resolution urging Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to impress upon Centre to scrap the Polavaram
Multipurpose Project proposed by Andhra Pradesh Government across the Godavari. The TAC,
comprising of prominent tribal legislators, Member of Parliament and tribal leaders, expressed concern
that the back water of Polavaram project would submerge large areas which were under occupation of
tribals in Malkanagiri district of the state. Water Resource Secretary Arabinda Behera gave a presentation
of submergence to be caused. Mr. Patnaik assured that he would soon write to Centre intimating the
resolution of the TAC. (THE HINDU 11/4/07)


Tribal women in need of good health system (6)
BHUBANESWAR: At a time when medical science made a substantial progress and the Orissa
Government claimed to have made healthcare available in remote pockets, most of tribal women
interviewed by the State Commission for Women (SCW) said they depended on traditional methods of
deliveries and other childcare practices. “Wherever we have visited, we have found negligible presence of
gynaecologists. In Koraput, Rayagada and Malkanagiri, the women demanded appointment of women
doctors to address their problems,” SCW chairperson Namita Panda said here on Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference on the occasion of National Safe Motherhood Day, she said hundreds of
women across undivided Koraput district complained of poor health system. The SCW has so far
conducted public hearing on safe motherhood in 14 districts and will be holding similar interactions in nine
districts. Ms Panda said though the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), maternal death per lakh live births, in
the country had substantially come down to 301 between 1997-2003 as against 407 in the early 1990s, the
State had fared badly by managing to reduce the rate from 376 to 358 during the same period. The SCW
also found that stray cases of corruption among doctors’ community made the mater worse in different
districts including Keonjhar and Malkanagiri. At another workshop organised by White Ribbon Alliance
(HRA), a voluntary organisation, to mark the day here on Wednesday, speakers expressed concern on
slow progress of Orissa on this front. State HRA chairperson Sakti Sahu said “reduction of nine points in
nine years in MMR is not an encouraging sign. In fact, there has not been any significant reduction in the
rate of maternal deaths in the last few years. What is worrisome is that maternal mortality is far greater in
rural areas than in urban areas.” Earlier Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, an autonomous body under
Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, decided to post 15000 post cards to Chief Minister Naveen
Patnaik emphasising safe motherhood in the State. The weeklong campaign titled `Know Your
Entitlement’ would be launched on April 30. (THE HINDU 12/4/07)


Bail cancelled for four tribals (6)
BERHAMPUR: The Additional District Judge, Paralakhemundi, on Thursday cancelled the bail of four
tribals arrested on the charge of helping Maoists through video shows of the movie `Lal Salam’ in remote
villages in Gajapati district on Thursday. The public prosecutor filed a review petition on the bail order on
April 10. The Gajapati police arrested these four persons of Mohana block in Gajapati district, Prashant
Kadraka, Narendra Dengamaka, Manoj Majhi and Maleka Majhi on Sept 22 last year from Gilakuta village
while they were showing ‘Lal Salam’ there. They claim to be members of a tribal cultural organisation
named Kui Sanskrutika Sangh. But as per police they were supporters of naxals who also helped in the
naxal attack on R.Udaygiri town last year. (THE HINDU 13/4/07)


Tribal body tells migrant workers to go (6)
Shillong, April 12: Fear and panic has gripped non-tribal migrant workers in the north-eastern state of
Meghalaya after an influential tribal body served quit notices, asking them to vacate the state by the
month-end or face action. “We are having sleepless nights and feeling greatly insecure after the threat.
Like me, many people working here are in a quandary,” Harsha Gurung, a middle-aged Nepali-speaking
daily wage earner, said. Mr Gurung, originally hailing from Nepal, has been working in coalmines in
Meghalaya since the past 12 years. The Federation of Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Peoples (FKJGP), a group
that claims to fight for the rights of the indigenous tribal people of Meghalaya, have set May 1 as the
deadline for Hindi, Nepali and Bengali speaking migrant workers to leave the state. “We are not going to
spell out what course of action we would take once the deadline expires. But something is going to
happen and we shall throw them out,” warned Emlang Lytan, president of the federation. There are an
estimated 12,000 migrant workers, most of them working in the many coalfields in Meghalaya, bordering
Bangladesh. “These migrant workers are a bunch of criminals who have been indulging in looting,
murders, and even raping our tribal women,” Lytan said. A number of other tribal organisations and
individuals have backed the federation’s demand to free the state of migrant workers. (IANS) (ASIAN AGE
13/4/07)


Jeep in Raje’s carcade set on fire by tribals (6)
Jodhpur, April 15: A group of tribals angered over the alleged entry of security personnel in a temple in
Rajasthan’s Sirohi district on Sunday, set ablaze two government vehicles, including a jeep in the chief
minister Vasundhara Raje’s convoy and pelted stones at policemen, injuring four of them. The Meena
tribals were protesting the “entry” of security personnel of Ms Raje in the temple of Gautam Rishi, near
Poshaliya village, in that district. The incident occurred at around 12.45 pm after Ms Raje departed from
the temple after taking part in the annual fair there. As per convention, tribals do not permit uniformed men
in the temple and the panchayat and local community had asked police to ensure that no personnel went
near the shrine. Ms Raje was the chief guest at the function and addressed a huge gathering, faced
“angry” words during her speech. After completing her speech Ms Raje left. A group of tribals followed her
convoy, but she had already left the helipad before their arrival. The annoyed mob first pelted stones at
the returning convoy and then burnt an escort jeep and another vehicle. Four policeman, including a
sub-inspector, were injured in the incident. (PTI) (Asian Age 16/4/07)


Green signal for mortgaging tribal land draws flak (6)
BHUBANESWAR: The State Government’s recent green signal to mortgage tribal land for some select
purposes, mostly for taking up of economic activities, has come in for a sharp criticism from social
activists, who allege it would serve interest of less than five per cent of tribal population in the state.
According to Union Ministry of Rural Development (MORD) report, of total 18,08,660 tribal families live in
rural areas, 41 per cent are landless while 55.16 per cent are small and marginal landholders. These
groups constitute about 96.74 percent of tribal population in the State. Only 3.26 per cent of tribal
population could afford to mortgage their land. As per the new model, tribals would be given permission to
mortgage their land with banks for some specific reasons and non-tribal could participate in auction
arranged by banks in the event of bankruptcy. “In the event of bankruptcy, permission to non-tribals for
participating in the auction of tribal land will open the floodgate. The relaxation in the existing law indicates
that there are deeper interests at work,” said Y. Giri Rao of Vasundhara, a city-based voluntary
organisation. MORD’s figure said 10,48,669 tribal families go for loans from informal sources for their daily
consumption. While these families constitute 57.98 per cent, only 9.67 per cent of total tribal families
borrow for production purposes. Ironically, only 1,95,530 tribal families from 14,648 villages of the state
are yet to come inside the vicious circle of debt. These groups constitute only 10.81 per cent of total tribal
population. “If 57.98 per cent of tribal people have been taking loans for their daily consumption for years
now, the state government should first assess as to how much land have been left with the tribal people. If
this relaxation comes in place, the rest 10.81 per cent population will enter the ring of indebtedness in no
time,” Mr. Rao said. The Tribal Advisory Council had been demanding relaxation of Orissa Scheduled
Areas Transfer of Immovable Property (by Scheduled Tribe) Regulation 1956 which could pave the way
for mortgaging tribal land for loans for banks. “The problem of land sale to obtain money, faced by a
miniscule proportion of tribals, can be easily solved by either setting up a line of credit by Integrated Tribal
Development Agency or banks based on land mortgage or by setting up a tribal land purchase and
distribution scheme,” Soumendra Sarangi, a social activist, said. He said government could purchase the
land from tribals who wanted to sell land at the prevailing market price and then it could distribute such
lands to landless tribal households. (The Hindu 19/4/07)


Tribals, police clash in Rewa district (6)
Bhopal : Six police personnel were injured in stone-pelting even as tribals who had encroached on forest
land were being evicted on Thursday at Ghateha village about 100 km from Rewa district headquarters.
Police had to fire in the air to disperse the agitating tribals. ”Roughly 3,000 tribals are encroaching on the
forestland. A notice was served earlier by the district administration. After repeated warnings proved futile,
Forest, Revenue and district administration officials reached the place and began the process of eviction,”
said Inspector-General (Rewa Range) B Maria Kumar. The IG said that the situation was under control
and did not warrant the imposition of prohibitory orders. The stone-pelting ensued after approximately half
the hutments were removed. One personnel had to be rushed to Rewa for treatment of a head injury.
”Police did not use even mild force on the crowd despite the incident,” the officer claimed though a New
Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) release alleged that several tribals, who have been residing there for more
than three years, sustained injuries. The NTUI said that police opened fire and lobbed tear gas shells.
”According to the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers’ Act, 2006, a person who
occupied such land prior to 2005 could be labeled an encroacher,” the NTUI explained. Forest officials in
Bhopal said that the encroachments on the reserve forest land were done after December 13, 2005,
encroachments prior to this date were not removed. The removal of encroachments had been going on for
about a week. The work of removal of encroachments on forest land was suspended after nightfall and
was likely to resume in the morning. (Pioneer 20/4/07)


Tribals participate in Thakurani jatra (6)
BERHAMPUR: Around 600 tribals, including women and children from R.Udaygiri area of Gajapati district,
took part in the ongoing Thakurani Jatra festival in the city on their way to Puri on Thursday night. This
group is part of an organisation `Parsuram Vahini’ with tribals living at Mahendragiri hill range area as
members. They are involved in the protection of environment and heritage of Mahendragiri, which they
believe was the dwelling area of Lord Parsuram, the seventh avatar of Vishnu. According to Ajay Das and
Bibhuti Nayak, who led the tribals, they had taken up a travel to the Puri to have darshan of Lord
Jagannath on Akshaya Tritiya, which is observed as the birthday of Parsuram. As Thakurani Jatra
happens to be a major festival of South Orissa they decided to break their journey in Berhampur to
become part of it. The tribals took out a rally with their traditional drums, cymbals and tribal musical
instruments. They moved around the city and went to Desibehera Street to offer their obeisance at the
makeshift temple of goddess Budhi Thakurani during the festival. (The Hindu 21/4/07)


Tribals seek representation in expert panels on wildlife area (6)
BHUBANESWAR: Tribal leaders and activists have demanded inclusion of community representatives in
expert committees, which play a key role in declaration of villages as Critical Wildlife Area. At the
conclusion of a two-day long consultation on Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers
(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, a set of recommendations that was agreed upon stated, “in case
when finally decision is taken to declare an area as critical wildlife area, the rehabilitation plan should be
prepared by the Government in active consultation and participation with the people of the area.” Every
village or hamlet or pada coming under the proposed critical wildlife area or National Park or Sanctuary
should have the right to nominate one person to the expert committee, it said. The meeting, which was
attended by lawyers, NGO activists and people from tribal communities, resolved that for the displaced
people who did not have any such evidence or record or rights, there should be provision for verbal
evidence. Moreover, palli sabha should be the unit for identification and vesting of rights to the forest
dwellers. “There should be a time limit of 180 days for the completion of the whole process of initiation of
the process of identification or rights by the gram sabha till the final vesting of rights by the district level
committees,” it said. The recommendations will be submitted to the Technical Support Group appointed by
the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. Technical Support Group member K.C. Malhotra and noted tribal activist
Padmashree Tulasi Munda attended the consultation meet, which was organised by the Orissa
Development Action Forum and Forum of Collective Forms Cooperation (Eastern Region). (The Hindu
21/4/07)


NGOs condemn police action against tribals (6)
BHOPAL: Last week’s pitched battle between police, forest and district authorities, on the one side, and
alleged encroachers, on the other, on forestland near Ghateha village in Madhya Pradesh’s Rewa district
has drawn protests. While non-governmental organisations and people’s groups have condemned the use
of force against forest dwellers, the Government is firm that no fresh encroachment will be tolerated.
Activists of people’s organisations, in a statement at a press conference here on Monday, said the police
attacked and opened fire on tribals, six of whom received bullet injuries. Over 250 others had been
missing since the April 19 incident, the statement claimed. The signatories included Ramesh Chandra
Shukla of the Rashtriya Van Jan Shramjivi Morcha, Manohar Kothekar of the New Trade Union Incentive,
Vijay Bhai of the Abhiyan Jungle Jeevan Suraksh, Anil Garg of the Madhya Pradesh Van Abhiyan,
Rashida Bee of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmchari Sangh, Sushil Bhai of the Samajwadi
Jan Parishad and Madhuri of the Jagrut Adivasi Dalit Sangathan. When contacted, Principal Chief
Conservator of Forests V.R. Khare said it was a case of fresh encroachments. The authorities had on
April 12-13 and April 17 tried to remove the encroachers, but they were chased away. The first time, there
were only a few encroachers. But when a larger Forest Department team went again, the number of
encroachers had swelled, and it had to retreat under attack by tribals. On April 19, there was heavy stone
throwing as a strong force, comprising police and forest personnel, led by the Sub-divisional Magistrate
and the SDO Police, attempted to clear the encroachments. (THE HINDU 24/4/07)


Tribals protest refinery plans in Orissa (6)
Bhubaneswar : Thousands of tribal men and women armed with bows and arrows marched in Orissa on
Wednesday to protest against an alumina refinery owned by Britain’s Vedanta Resources Plc, police said.
Dongria Kondh tribals vowed to stop Vedanta starting the refinery in the mineral-rich Lanjigarh area of
Orissa, about 475 km southwest of Bhubaneswar. Large bauxite deposits had lured the company to this
remote and impoverished corner of Orissa, where they have already built the $900 million alumina
refinery. At issue is Vedanta’s plan to turn the top of the nearby Niyamgiri mountain into open-cast mines.
Tribals say the project will rob them of their homes. “Niyamgiri or no Niyamgiri, Vedanta go back,” shouted
several tribal men, wearing colourful headgear as they prepared to wage mock battle with spears and
arrows. (Pioneer 27/4/07)


Exploitation of tribals well depicted (6)
BERHAMPUR: The true colours of the `gentlemen’ who exploit tribals, particularly girls, were thoroughly
exposed in the play `Nila Amruta’ that was staged by artistes of the Ganjam Kala Parishad at its golden
jubilee celebrations. According to director Nrusinhananda Mohapatra, playwright Raju Patro used `Desia’
dialect of tribal dominated Koraput district in place of chaste Oriya to lend authenticity to the play. Veteran
theatre personality Raju Padhi, who acted in the play, was all praise for the stagecraft by Kedar Apta. The
whole prop on the stage was designed with an investment of a few hundred rupees. “There is scope to
transform it into a street-play also,” Mr. Padhi said. Rabi Narayan Behera, who played the main character
`Ghenu’, said all the artistes attended a workshop on the tribal language and behaviour to make it look
natural. His sweetheart Jhumuri is part of a tribal dance troupe that visits Bhubaneswar to perform. But,
she never returns. Ghenu then reaches Bhubaneswar in search of Jhumuri. In the process, he too is
exploited. He also comes to know how his lover was exploited. He then musters courage to unmask the
white-collared exploiters of his clan. (The Hindu 27/4/07)


Massacre out in the open, DGP of Chhattisgarh takes back words, orders a probe (6)
Raipur, May 5: A day after this newspaper reported that the killing of seven tribals in an “encounter” on
March 31 near Bijapur in Chhattisgarh was kept under wraps, the state’s top police officer today
announced a probe saying the bodies will be exhumed for autopsy. A police team is also on its way. Local
police have been asked to register a case of murder “against unknown persons”, said Director General of
Police O P Rathore. “The bodies will be exhumed and if evidence is found they were killed by security
personnel, legal action will follow,” said Rathore. This is in sharp contrast to what he told The Indian
Express just days ago: “Gujarat ki bimaari sab jagah phaila rahein hai log. The Naxalites are savages, we
are not into these things.” This newspaper had reported yesterday that according to villagers, seven tribals
from Ponjer village, who the police claim were Sangham members (Naxalite sympathisers), were picked
up by Chhattisgarh Armed Police and Salwa Judum, taken to nearby Santoshpur, and killed. “These were
Sangham members and we had gone to these villages to conduct a search mission. There was an
encounter and we were forced to act,” a senior district police officer had said. (Indian Express 6/5/07)


Move to vacate tribals from cashew plantation areas deplored (6)
KORAPUT: Dangar Adhikar Samiti of Koraput district has asked the government to abstain from using
force on tribals of Machkund region. Sania Sisa, president of the samiti, has reacted sharply to the
decision taken by the State government to use police force to evacuate tribals from the cashew plantation
area within a month. Challenging the move to declare the possession of tribals on the cashew plantation
areas as encroachment, he said the government was violating the norms of PESA, which was applicable
in the undivided Koraput district where no decision of transfer of land was permissible without the
acceptance of the proposal by Palli Sabha or Gramsabha. And no such process was adopted to acquire
the land. The plantation was done by the soil conservation department to check soil erosion in big dam
areas like Machkund, Kolab, Chitrokunda and Indravati dam area. Further the plantation was taken up on
a massive scale under different poverty elevation schemes. The intention was that the local community
would keep a watch on the plantation and would become the owners of that once the government
distributes tree pattas to beneficiaries, he said. But, when the trees bear fruits, the department, allegedly
had earned profit by harvesting the crop that was protected by the community. Things had got worsened
from 1975 when the State government created Cashew Development Corporation and Soil Conservation
Department was asked to hand over the plantation area to the corporation, he said. After a long struggle
by tribals of the region, the Tahsildar of Machkund had given 1500 families tree pattas in these cashew
plantation areas. But, surprisingly the same land was auctioned to another party by the corporation, he
said alleging that the State government was taking away the legitimate rights of poor tribals depriving them
of their basic source of livelihood to favour the corporation. (The Hindu 6/5/07)


Efforts on to get recognition to STs in Puducherry: Rangasamy (6)
Puducherry: Chief Minister N. Rangasamy has said the administration will persist in its efforts to get due
recognition for the Scheduled Tribes (STs) residing in Union Territory. He was replying to pleas made by
R. K. R. Anandaraman (PMK), Leader of the Opposition A. M. H. Nazeem (DMK) and a few other
members during a debate on a private member resolution tabled earlier by Anandaraman in the Assembly
on Saturday. Mr. Rangasamy said the administration was already seized of the necessity to get
recognition for the STs so that they would get reservation in employment and educational institutions. Mr.
Rangasamy said that in response to the representations made in the past, the Centre had written a letter
to the administration, asking it to provide a quota of one per cent of the employment or admission in the
institutions for some time. He hoped that a full-fledged approval would be given soon. Mr. Anandaraman
(PMK) and S. P. Sivakumar (DMK) placed two resolutions separately seeking the Government’s firm steps
to ensure that private medical colleges and also those `deemed to be universities’ functioning in Union
Territory earmarked 50 per cent of the total seats in the MBBS course for students sponsored by the
Centralised Admission Committee (CENTAC). Similar quota should be created in private engineering
colleges also. Replying to members’ views, the Chief Minister said that steps were already taken to ensure
that equal sharing of seats was available in the private professional colleges. (The Hindu 7/5/07)


Kalinga Nagar firing inquiry is suspended (6)
Bhubaneswar, May 6: The judicial probe into Kalinga Nagar police firing incident has been wound up half
way. Justice A.S. Naidu Commission of Inquiry, which was probing the case, has declared that the probe
has “ceased to exist” in view of the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Orissa government’s appeal to
continue with the probe. “The commission has ceased to exist without completing the inquiry process in
view of the Supreme Court’s rejection of the state government’s appeal,” Justice Naidu said in a statement
on Saturday. At least 13 tribal people were killed on January 2, 2006 when the police opened fire on them
while they were protesting against construction of the boundary walls by a private steel firm. In November
2006, the Supreme Court had ruled that no sitting judge of high court can head an inquiry commission.
However, the top court allowed continuance of some commissions which were in the final stages of
completion of probes. Soon after the top court’s order, Justice Naidu suspended the proceedings of the
commission on December 9, 2006, and sought direction from the state government if it should continue.
After a month, the state government replied that the commission could continue with its proceedings since
it was in final stage of completion. Justice Naidu, however, insisted that the state government should
obtain clearance from the court. The government had moved the top court to allow the commission to
complete the probe. But the court on April 9 rejected the appeal. (Asian Age 7/5/07)


Tribals preserve forests (6)
New Delhi, May 6: It is an initiative, which can become a role-model for conserving the fragile eco-system
of the country. Tribals in one of Meghalaya’s little-known villages have gone a step forward and declared
some of their lands as a wildlife reserve. The villagers of Selbalgre have officially identified around five km
square area as a village-wildlife reserve. The village, located about 20 km from the Tura district
headquarters, is also home to endangered species of Hollock Gibbon (Bunopithecus hoolock). This
initiative was the result of a project initiated by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and the British high
commission to study the role of district councils in protecting forest and wildlife. Welcoming the move,
conservationists have termed it unique as it is the villagers who themselves decided to keep aside some
of their land for wildlife conservation. The area can be further expanded in future, as villagers have shown
willingness to give more land. Tribals in the area practice jhum (rotational) cultivation which has disturbed
the sensitive eco-system causing lack of rainfall and less forest cover. The villagers also face water
scarcity in some areas. This led the tribals to conserve the forests and the eco-system. As part of the
project, WTI has been collecting information on forest resource extraction by villagers and producing
forest cover maps to help in the study. For this, council members, nokmas (village head) and other
villagers are being contacted. The objective of the project is to come out with a policy document which will
help village councils to tackle contemporary issues on wildlife conservation. In December 2006, the Garo
Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) had constituted a Wildlife Monitoring Committee to suggest
measures for wildlife conservation in areas which are under their jurisdiction. The main task of this
committee is to identify areas where conservation actions can be initiated. (Asian Age 7/5/07)


Karnataka CM, deputy to stay with tribals (6)
Bangalore, May 6: In a first-of-its-kind in the political history of Karnataka, chief minister H.D.
Kumaraswamy and deputy chief minister B.S. Yediurappa will stay overnight on Sunday in the residence
of Sudugadu Sidda, a native nomadic tribal, in Srirampura village of Arkalgud taluk in Hassan district. It
was Mr Kumaraswamy who started the practice of spending a night with common people and listen to the
grievances of the family and the villagers. Ever since he became the chief minister in February in 2006, Mr
Kumaraswamy has stayed in the residence of a HIV-afflicted patient in Bijapur, a leprosy-afflicted patient
in Raichur and a farmer in Gadag among others. “It is my way of telling them that I am with you,” the chief
minister said. Now, Mr Yediurappa — who would be accompanying the chief minister — has decided to
emulate Mr Kumaraswamy. “I would like to continue this practice at least once in a month to follow the
chief minister,” Mr Yediurappa said. “This is the first time I am staying in the residence of an ordinary
villager after becoming the deputy chief minister. However, I used to stay with farmers and agricultural
labourers in my native constituency of Shikaripura when I was the BJP president of Shimoga district in
mid-80s,” Mr Yediurappa recalled. Now that Mr Yediurappa has decided to emulate Mr Kumaraswamy, will
he direct his party ministers to emulate him? “You cannot enact a law and enforce it. But, I will appeal to
them,” he said. Meanwhile, the Hassan district administration has spruced up the village and the
residence of Sidda in order to receive the VIP guests. Roads approaching Srirampura village has been
asphalted and two standby generators have been installed to ensure uninterrupted power supply. “This is
from the security point of view,” a senior police officer said. (Asian Age 7/5/07)


Tribals to demonstrate (6)
BHUBANESWAR: Tribal leaders have announced to stage demonstration here on Thursday demanding
immediate implementation of Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of
Forest Rights) Act, 2006.The leaders, who have united under the banner of the state chapter of Campaign
For Survival And Dignity, criticised the Union Government saying even after four months of passing of this
Act in Parliament, it had not been notified. Pointing out that tribal lands were under threat, Gopinath Majhi,
the state convener of the movement, said the State Government was encroaching upon tribal land through
different schemes such as compensatory plantation, joint forest management and bio-diesel plantation. At
a press conference here on Monday, he alleged, “forest department has been trying to take up plantations
on land cultivated by tribals and other forest dwellers in order to evict the tribals in Balangir, Nuapada and
Kandhamal district.” Tribals particular were facing hardships due to attempts by the government to acquire
their lands for corporate houses and contractors, be it in the name of mining or development or special
economic zones, he alleged. Taking strong exceptions to Tribal Advisory Council’s recent
recommendation to allow tribals to mortgage their land for loans, the leaders said the Government was
trying to dilute the constitutional protection for tribal land in the scheduled area by manipulating existing
law. (The Hindu 8/5/07)


Tribals cry halt to eviction drive (6)
BHUBANESWAR: With the notification of the Scheduled Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers
(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act getting delayed, hundreds of tribals and forest dwellers on Thursday
took out a rally on the Mahatma Gandhi Street demanding a halt to the drive to evict them from forests of
the State. The protesters also took strong exception to a recent attempt to amend the Orissa Scheduled
areas Transfer of Immovable property (by Scheduled Tribes) Regulation, 1956 (OSATIP). “Even after four
months of the passing of the Act, it has not been notified. The Forest Department is continuing with
eviction of tribal and forest dwellers from forestland in many tribal dominated district such as Bolangir,
Kandhamal, Nuapada and Sundargarh,” State convenor of Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD)
Gopinath Majhi said. Alleging that the action of the Forest Department was against the spirit of the law and
mandate of Parliament, he said the eviction drive was taken up in the guise of Joint Forest Management
and plantation programmes to alienate forest dwellers from their traditionally cultivated forestland. He
demanded that all gram sabhas be vested with supreme authority to determine forest rights. The
protesters demanded that all forced land acquisition in Scheduled V areas be stopped. (The Hindu
11/5/07)


Historian moves SC against Judum (6)
NEW DELHI, MAY 17 : Historian and social activist Ramchandra Guha today approached the Supreme
Court challenging the Salwa Judum movement, which was launched in June 2005 to combat Naxalism in
Dantewara district of Chhattisgarh. Following brief arguments, the apex court issued notice to the
Chhattisgarh Government on the petition which seeks direction to the state to refrain from supporting and
encouraging the movement. A Bench comprising Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V
Raveendran issued notice to the state and directed it to file a reply before the next date of hearing. It was
contended by the petitioner that the movement had intensified violence. Senior Counsel T Andhirijuna,
appearing for the petitioner, said: “Far from being a peaceful campaign, Salwa Judum activists are armed
with guns, lathis, axes, bows and arrows.” “As of January 2007, more than 47,000 people were living in
relief camps. The condition of these camps are deplorable. Nutrition, especially child nutrition, has been
badly affected with inmates of these camps receiving scant rations,” he said. He submitted that the
residents of the district were forced by the security forces and activists of the movement to leave their
villages and live in these camps. The petitioner also sought an independent inquiry into the alleged human
rights violations. (Indian Express 18/5/07)


Workshop to sensitise tribals on forest laws (6)
BERHAMPUR: A workshop was organised on Thursday at Dambapud village of Rayagada block in
Gajapati district to sensitise tribals on the recent forest Acts passed by Parliament. Around 40 tribal
leaders from various villages of the block participated in this workshop organised by National Campaign
for Survival and Dignity. These participants would create peer groups at their villages to make tribals stand
up for their legal rights in forests, said Achyut Gamang, a participant. The participants were advised to
hold village-level meetings to make others know what they learnt. The tribals were requested to be hand in
hand with the forest department to help in correct mapping of forests. They were advised to be in touch
with government officials to pass on information regarding happenings in forests for the protection of the
forests to which their livelihood is attached. The tribals also learnt about the measures to be taken by them
to get the legal documents regarding the ownership of the forestland on which they are living since
generations for over 75 years. Most of the tribals in south Orissa do not have the pattas for the land on
which they live. At times non-tribals take over this land leading to clashes and tense situations. (The Hindu
19/5/07)


Mass tribal conversion: RSS to look other way (6)
PUNE, May 23 : It could well become the mother of all conversions, though there are many who question
the veracity of the claim that around one lakh people from 42 nomadic tribes will converge on the state
capital on May 27 and convert to Buddhism. But the RSS seems to be in no mood to go on the offensive,
perhaps fortified by the last such attempt in Nagpur in 2006 when only a few hundred tribals turned up
despite a similar claim. Laxman Mane, a nomadic tribal writer whose autobiography Upara (Outsider) is a
landmark in Marathi literature, is currently on a statewide tour to garner support for the campaign. Mane
himself had converted to Buddhism in Nagpur on October 2, 2006, and claims the conversion event at the
Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai will be India’s largest religious mass conversion till date. The Sangh
Parivar has decided to ‘ignore’ it on the grounds that Buddhism is a part of the Hindu dharma. “We neither
support nor oppose the conversion of Mane and other nomadic tribals. It is their own decision and why
should we discuss it?” asked Katcheshwar Sahane, RSS Western Maharashtra prant sanghchalak. “They
are just altering the methods of worship. After all Buddhism is a part of Hindu dharma. So, it is an internal
matter of Hindus.” Sahard Kunte, Maharashtra prant prachar pramukh of Vishwa Hindu Parishad said they
were not bothered about conversions to Jainism, Sikhism or Buddhism. “Mane’s conversion will not harm
the nation or the Hinduism as Buddhism is the integral part of Hindu religion,” he said. But, Mane had a
different take on the issue. “Tribals never followed Hinduism, so there’s no question of relinquishing it. All
these years we suffered at the hands of Hindus, now we want to live as human beings. Buddhism will give
us a sense of belonging,” he said. Hardliners in the parivar are, however, livid with Mane’s “anti-Hindu”
statements. “ If we keep mum anyone will come and start speaking against Hindus. We are being told
officially that we should not react to Mane and his conversion campaign. But there are heated discussions
in the parivar on what stand we should take,” said a senior RSS leader. (Indian Express 24/5/07)


Tribals’ land rights subverted: Brinda Karat (6)
BHOPAL: CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat on Tuesday accused the Ratlam district
administration and Forest Department officials of subverting the tribals’ land rights. Ms. Karat, who
attended a public hearing at Ratlam’s Sailana Development Block on Monday and toured some villages in
the block and the neighbouring Bajna block on Tuesday, told The Hindu that the Forest Department had
dug up huge holes in all villages on the pretext of a plantation drive “anticipating that the tribals will get
permanent settlement rights once the Tribal Act is implemented.” She said tribals from about 50 villages
attended the public hearing at Sailana. Their grievance was that the Forest Department officials were
going to tribal villages and digging up holes, saying they were required for plantations. It could be inferred
from the public hearing that almost 3,000 to 3,500 tribals families were directly affected by the digging at a
time when they should be engaged in preparing the land for cultivation. Ms. Karat said the Collector told
her that he was not directly involved. However, the forest officials, who were asked to accompany her to
some villages on Tuesday, admitted that the holes had been dug up over those pieces of land that were
already in the tribals’ possession. “It is unfortunate that this is the state of affairs in a district represented
by the State Forest Minister and a Minister of State at the Centre,” she said. (The Hindu 30/5/07)


Tribal students, parents block road (6)
BERHAMPUR: Daringbadi in Kandhamal district was tense on Friday following an agitation by tribal
students of the local residential high school for girls and their parents. They blocked the
Daringbadi-Brahmanigaon road and laid siege to the tehsil office till evening. Additional District Magistrate
of Kandhamal district Suresh Chandra Suar, along with the Superintendent of Police, had to rush to the
spot to hold discussions with the agitators. The agitation had the support of a tribal organisation Lok
Sangram Manch. Its leaders Raghunath Padhi and Tapan Mishra led the protest in support of the
suspended in-charge headmaster of the school Devraj Sahu, who was absconding to avoid arrest. The
protesters alleged that Sahu was framed and demeaned by the police and administrative officials. It may
be recalled that on March 23, the police had to intervene to allow a new headmaster take charge. The
students opposed the new appointment and wanted Sahu to continue. This led to unruly scenes and the
school had to be closed down. The police later recovered some pornographic materials and condoms
from the room of Sahu on the school campus. The protesters, however, believe, that Sahu was implicated.
Sunita Pradhan and her father Kasinath Pradhan alleged that the police were trying to frame-up Sahu.
They alleged that on March 23 some miscreants misbehaved with the girls and the police were yet to
arrest them. They further said that Sahu was a victim of his detractors. “The fact is that not a single girl of
the school has spoken against the character and nature of Sahu,” Mr. Pradhan said. The protesters
sought legal action against police and administrative officials who, they alleged, damaged the image of the
school and its former headmaster. They relented only after Mr. Suar promised to inquire into the matter
and take action within one week. (The Hindu 2/6/07)


Tribals gearing up for a showdown (6)
BERHAMPUR: Tribals of Gangabada panchayat under Rayagada block in Gajapati district are joining
hands to wage a united struggle against the proposed irrigation project by the Andhra Pradesh
Government across a tributary of the Mahendratanaya near the panchayat. Resentment is brewing in
villages like Akada, Manikpatna, Khambagaon, Dimirigaon, Bengasahi and Sankuda that are situated
along the tributary on the Andhra-Orissa border. They say that the neighbouring State is planning an
irrigation project called `Nakasahi’ with an estimated cost of Rs. 33 crores. Sarpanch of Gangabada
Sumitra Sabar says that the project spells doom because it would submerge over 1,100 acres of
agricultural land and cashew orchards in the panchayat. Besides, it will affect the livelihood of some 860
persons hailing from 158 tribal families. The villagers are also worried over the prospect of submergence
of the road connecting Gangabada panchayat to Manjusa in the adjoining State, for the panchayat is more
accessible by this road. This apart, the project will also submerge some forestland, they say. While those
displaced on the Andhra Pradesh side will get some compensation, no study has been made regarding
losses on the Orissa side, the villagers rue. Stating that the neighbouring State has already completed
survey of the project and that `bhoomi puja’ is expected to be performed soon, the tribals have urged the
Chief Minister to intervene and put pressure on the Andhra government to shelve the project. They have
threatened to launch an agitation if the Orissa Government fails to protect the livelihood of tribals. (The
Hindu 3/6/07)


Violence erupts again in Kalinga Nagar (6)
Jajpur : Tribals attack Jindal workers for constructing boundary wall near Hudisahi After a gap of 12 days,
violence returned to Kalinga Nagar, the steel hub of India in Orissa’s Jajpur district, on Saturday. The
agitating tribals beat up three labourers engaged by Jindal Stainless Limited that has been constructing a
boundary wall near Hudisahi in the industrial complex area, 60 km from here. Sources said a private
agency was awarded the construction work of the boundary of the plant by Jindal in the industrial
area.However, about 30 tribals of the nearby Gadhapur village, armed with lethal weapons, reached the
construction site and attacked the labourers as they refused to stop the boundary wall work and leave the
site.The private security guards of the plant allegedly fired three rounds to chase the attackers. But they
fired blanks sources added. Three labourers at work sustained injuries during the attack. The injured were
rushed to the local Danagadi hospital. They have been identified as Ashok Behera of Sribantapur, Bulu
Dehury and Bishnu Dehury of Mangala Chhak in Sukinda village.Kalinga Nagar police station
officer-in-charge, Sarat Kumar Mohapatra confirmed the incident. However, no FIR was registered in this
regard. It is the third incident in a week in Jindal Stainless Limited in the emerging steel city after labourers
working with the plant were attacked on Saturday by the agitating tribals. It may be recalled that on May 21
some miscreants assaulted workers including some officers of the Jindal Company in its premises. Seven
persons including senior Manager of Power plant Vinit Jain and Security Officer, Smrutiranjan Nayak
sustained injuries following the attack.While five injured were rushed to the Danagadi Community health
centre, two of them were shifted to Sriram Chandra Bhanja Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack when
their condition was deteriorated. However, some of the employees of the Jindal plant overpowered three
of the miscreants, armed with lethal weapons and handed them over to the police. (Pioneer 4/6/07)


Tribals demand cashew plantations restored to them (6)
Bhubaneswar : Thousands of tribals and Dalits from different parts of the State, under the banner of
Dongar Adhikar Samiti, on Wednesday took to street in protest against the anti-poor and anti-tribal
policies being followed in the cashew plantation work undertaken on community land. Samiti president
Rama Chandra Gadanayak said cashew plantations exist in 22 of the 30 districts in the State and most of
such cashew plantations were taken up in land, which was actually under cultivation by tribals and Dalits
of Machkund and several other areas of Koraput, Gajapati, Nayagarh and Ganjam. “The lands were under
shifting cultivation customarily claimed by tribal communities and their rights were not recorded during the
survey and settlement and such lands were either recorded as Government wasteland or forest land,”
Gadanayak said. He further said that during the 1960s, the State Government also took up large areas of
cashew plantations on such lands under the Government-sponsored schemes like Economic
Rehabilitation of the Rural Poor, Integrated Tribal Development Agency, Employment Assurance
Schemes, Jawhar Rojgar Yojana and Tribal Sub Plan. At that time, the impression given was that such
cashew plantations would be distributed among the landless families, but in most cases, the promise was
not kept, he added. The Samiti demanded immediate withdrawal of all cashew plantation leases from the
Orissa State Cashew Development Corporation (OSCDC) and handing them over to eligible landless
tribals and Dalits. Excess plantations left after distribution must be transferred to the village (palli sabha).
The Samiti further demanded that the Orissa State Cashew Development Corporation (OSCDC) should
be excluded from the scheduled area or at maximum be allowed for marketing, processing and extension
activities. “The recent attempt of OFDC to invite plantation on 25 villages under Machkunda area on
revenue land should be stopped and the lands should be distributed among the landless,” the Samiti said.
(Pioneer 7/6/07)


Tribals happy over UNICEF project (6)
BERHAMPUR: Tribals in remote areas of Ganjam district, who are yet to have identity papers for
themselves, are happy to get birth certificates of their progenies at their doorstep. A project sponsored by
the UNICEF is continuing in the district to provide birth certificates to all tribal children between the age of
1 to 14 near their homes. A tribal activist, Jagabandhu Sabar of Beguniapada area said: “At least the birth
certificates of our children would prove that we are living on jungle land for generations other wise who will
come over to these remote places to give birth certificates to their children.” Sabar is enthusiastic about
the project as according to him these birth certificates would provide some proof regarding their ownership
of the land on which tribals stay in jungles. Owning to efforts of the village level health workers, most of
the births get registered but the tribals, due to their ignorance, do not collect birth certificates. When they
try to collect the birth certificates after years they get dissuaded by the long bureaucratic process and the
money involved. Mangaraj Panda, the director of United Artists, which has joined hands with the UNICEF
to take up the project said, usually births in tribal areas are recorded without names to get names put on
the certificates needs deposition of Rs. 2 as treasury challan which is a cumbersome process for an
ignorant tribal. It was an effort to get together a notary public, local tehsildar, doctor of the local primary
health centre at a particular point in tribal areas to issue birth certificates at the spot after on the spot
verification of children. Till now birth certificates have been issued to the parents of 2024 tribal children
living in remote areas of 11 blocks of Ganjam district. This work could be done through 26 camps. On
June 22 a meeting is to be held where administrative officials, health officials, parent representatives from
tribal villages would get together to decide upon the future course of action so that the tribals can get birth
certificates for their children in time near their homes. (The Hindu 8/6/07)


‘Father’s surname will lead to loss of tribal identity’ (6)
Shillong, June 7: The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council Chief Executive member H S Shylla has
said whoever takes surname from the father’s side would lose his tribal identity. This is bad news for the
Synkhon Ka Rympei Thymmai, which has been advocating for taking up father’s surname. Meghalaya
follows the matrilineal system where the surname is taken up from the mother’s side. However, there is a
movement initiated by the Synkhon Ka Rympei Thymmai to discard the matrilineal system and follow the
patriarchal system. Shylla also said the children born out of wedlock of a tribal and non-tribal couple would
be considered a tribal and would get all the benefits of a schedule tribe. He said the district council has the
Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council Khasi Social Custom of Lineage Act 1997 and according to the
Act, the offspring of a tribal and a non-tribal is considered a tribal. He asserted that “if a woman is a tribal,
her offspring can claim scheduled tribe status.” The decision of the district council to continue with the act
by according the schedule tribe status to the children born out of non-tribal father and tribal mother is
contradictory to the Supreme Court ruling that children born out of the non-tribal father and tribal mother
cannot be treated as a tribal. Shylla said the SC ruling is applicable only to the Oraon tribe which has a
patriarchal system unlike in Meghalaya which follows a matrilineal system. However, acting on the
Supreme Court ruling the Income Tax department has decided not to allow exemption of income tax to
children born out of wedlock of non-tribal father and tribal mother. The Chief Executive also said if a tribal
man marries a non-tribal woman, the Act applies where the man can get another Khasi surname by a
system called Tang Jait ( giving a new surname). (Indian Express 8/6/07)


Jharkhand teachers to learn tribal languages (6)
RANCHI, JUNE 13: Backed by a constitutional mandate enshrined in Article 350 A, that primary education
be imparted in mother tongue, the Jharkhand Government is set to make the knowledge of local tribal and
non-tribal language compulsory for teachers in state-run schools. According to the 2001 Census report,
the male and female literacy rates in Jharkhand are 67.94 per cent and 39.39 per cent, respectively. The
dropout rate is estimated to be around 55 per cent. It is the second highest after Bihar. State’s towns and
villages have witnessed mushrooming of primary schools where tribal students either speak in Santhali,
Mundari, Oraon, Kharia or Khorta. The teachers, however, communicate with them in Hindi, Bengali, Oriya

and Urdu. “Due to this language dualism, local students often do not find education interesting forcing
some of them to drop out of the school,” said J B Tubid, Secretary (HRD). “Most teachers employed in
these schools communicate in Hindi. Our plan is to encourage them to learn any one of the local
languages so that they can do their job well,” he said. (Indian Express 14/6/07)
Abducted tribals axed to death (6)
RAIPUR, JUNE 13 : Two tribals, who were abducted by extremists last week, have been killed and their
bodies were dumped on the roadside in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Dantewada district. The two men
were among the nine tribal daily workers who were taken hostage by Maoists last week. The victims were
abducted from Bande village of Dantewada district by 25 armed Maoists when they were returning from a
Government-run employment generating scheme. All nine—including two women—were staying at the
Konta relief camp. The Maoists freed four men on June 10 and had not put forward any demand to
release the remaining five. “We found the bodies of the two tribal hostages early on Wednesday from
Konta area. They had multiple injury marks, around the neck,” a senior police officer said. “The two men
were brutally axed to death,” he added. He said three persons were still being held captive and state
police teams were combing the forested hideouts of Maoists to secure their safe release. In a major action
targeting civilian population in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh last week, Maoist extremists had kidnapped
12 people, including two women, from Dantewada and Narayanpur districts of the area. (Indian Express
14/6/07)


Tribal women work out a water marvel, harvest spring with wisdom (6)
Malkangiri : When the current dictum of a global village is the common refrain, the State machinery itself
gets inaccessible to the State’s inaccessible terrain and remote tribal areas, where the basic minimum
needs remain only a farfetched reality and the inhabitants struggle against the adversities to earn their
livelihood. This is what the story is about a remote tribal village Mahupadar in Malkangiri district, which is
surrounded by hills and dense forests. And almost similar is the story about four other villages Kantamadi,
Khilguda, Balichua and Bandaguda that lie cradled between two hills and are bereft of any roads, potable
water or any other basic facilities. Government officials neither visit the villages nor are they come under
any governmental welfare schemes. Handicapped by the non-availability of any groundwater source or
surface water, an acute water scarcity was haunting the villagers for decades. Summer used to make their
lives miserable, and in rainy season they used to tap water from small shallow places for their daily use
exposing them to the harmful effects of unclean water. However, for the tribals, nature was not too harsh;
only 2 km away a perennial spring flows down the hill, and for the 800 people of these five villages, this
was the lone water source to quench their thirst. From dawn to dusk, people queued up here to collect a
pot of water, and being in a dense forest, the attack of wildly beasts always lurks in their minds. Even men
armed with bows, arrows and other sharp edged weapons were a common sight then. Many cases of tiger
attacks were even reported then. Given the problem of beastly attacks and scaling up the unfriendly
terrains, to collect water was virtually impossible daily. Also, the water flow gets reduced in the summers.
How to bring the water down the hill always stirred their minds, especially the female members, who bore
the brunt of collecting water daily. Up came some eight women, prominent among them are Choini Khara,
Gurubari Khil and Kamala Dantal, and they organised a meeting in Mahupadar to find a solution to this
vexing problem. Despite not having any technical background, the women decided to use long bamboo
logs at the mouth of the spring to divert the water down the hills to avail it.

Unsatisfied, as water scarcity still dogged them, the women then devised another novel technique, taking
the wooden logs from forest, they cut it into boat like shapes and put them at the mouth of the spring to
channel it completely to their village door-step and collected it in a reservoir. The interesting fact is, by this,
neither the spring water strays out anywhere nor a single drop got wasted. More so, they converted these
wood logs as water pipes and wrapped cloth at its mouth to collect the clean water for daily use. Indeed, a
novel water project by illiterate tribal women, that not only catered to their drinking water needs but also
other water imperatives. These indefatigable women didn’t rest on their laurels, rather, they with a fistful of
food grains and little amount of money goes on to form a SHG (Self Help Group) named Maa Padmabati,
only to modernise their this novel water project. The male folk by constructing another water reservoir put
the water for agricultural use to cultivate rice, jowar, pulses etc. Excited at this marvel, the village chief
Balram Dantal eulogised both the women and the nature for bringing water to the villages. Although the
water problem more or less solved but the problems that still dogs the villagers are of health, education
and transport. The villages lack all weather roads and schools. Result: Children go to forests along with
their parents to collect wood, kendu leaves or mahul. Healthcare services does not exist even by name, in
case some fell ill, villagers carry him on a bed to faraway Korakunda PHC for treatment. Although a variety
of tribes inhabit the villages like in Mahupadar and Bantaguda, lives the Paraja, Rana, Ghadhava and
Bhumiya tribes, whereas in Khiliguda, Kantamadhi and Balichua, Khond and Paraja tribes inhabits, but all
live so in complete harmony. Like other tribals, they too observe number of festivals and on these
occasions, right form old to youth entertain by participating in folk dances like Dhangda-Dhingdi (for young
boys and girls) and Dukura-Dikiri (for old men and women) and sipping the Salap (liquor) in togetherness.
The ironical fact here is, these very tribals, are in fact got displaced due the Machakund Water Project and
resided here. But they are still to get land pattas even after decades. Let aside land rights, the
Government did not bother to provide electricity, roads, health centres, and schools or say any so-called
welfare schemes like PDS. Result: to procure kerosene they have to spend Rs 20/litre and at night, many
either quietly sleep or lit a wood log to carry out routine works. This paints Government’s so-called
rehabilitation measures in very poor light and for this there are very few takers to Government’s
displacement drives. (Pioneer 19/6/07)


Draft National Tribal Policy ready (6)
New Delhi : The Tribal Affairs Ministry is ready with the draft proposal for formulating the National Tribal
Policy. The Ministry officials said that the draft would be sent to the Cabinet soon for approval. The
proposed policy envisages all-round social and economic development of tribals while preserving their
traditional and customary systems. The officials said that the draft proposal was prepared after holding
detailed consultations with different States, departments and NGOs. The policy would provide a conducive
environment for the preservation of traditional and customary systems and regime of rights and
concessions enjoyed by different ST communities and reconciliation of modes of their socio-economic
development. The officials said that the policy would help in bridging the gap in the Human Development
Index (HDI) of tribals and the general population. The UPA in its Common Minimum Programme has
pledged to protect the rights of tribal communities and their socio-economic development. The policy
would also facilitate translation of the Constitutional safeguards into reality with simultaneous
socio-economic development, protection and vesting of rights of STs on forest lands. (Pioneer 20/6/07)


Hearing in tribal youth detention case concludes (6)
CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Wednesday reserved its judgment after completing the hearing over
sensational case pertaining to illegal detention of a tribal youth in jail custody for over eight years even as
the youth accused of murder charges was exonerated by the High Court. The bench of Chief Justice A K
Ganguly and Justice Indrajit Mohanty reserved their verdict after a marathon hearing of the PIL that was
filed by a social activist and lawyer. Petitioner’s advocate Prabir Kumar Das had urged the court to
adequately compensate the victim, who has turned lunatic due to illegal confinement. The police arrested
one Pratap Naik of Ghimuhani village under Puruna Katak police station in Boudh district in connection
with a murder case in 1992. The boy was 14-year-old when he was first sent to jail by the Phulbani district
and session’s judge court. He was, however, acquitted by the High Court in October 1994, but was
released from jail only on January 22, 2003, after more than eight years of the HC order. Though the HC
had exonerated Naik of murder charges, a clerk at the lower court did not place the HC order before the
Phulbani district judge for necessary actions to release the tribal youth. As a result, he was kept in illegal
custody from January 17, 1995 to July 22, 2003; the PIL said seeking a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the
boy for illegal detention in jail. Arguing the case, Mr Das on Wednesday told the bench that due to illegal
detention for a long period, the boy was now suffering from severe mental ailment and was currently under
treatment at a hospital. “The victim’s mental health had deteriorated due to long confinement. He is
undergoing psychiatric treatment at VSS Medical College Hospital in Burla and is finding it very difficult to
meet the hospital expenses”, Mr Das said. (The Hindu 21/6/07)
Tribals give up road blockade plan (6)
BERHAMPUR: Tribals called off their planned road blockade at Mohana in Gajapati district on
Wednesday following written promises by the authorities concerned. Tribals of Mohana block had given a
call for 12-hour road blockade at Mohana on Wednesday under the banner of tribal organisation, Lok
Sangram Manch (LSM). On Tuesday night, the authorities decided to hold discussions with the tribal
leaders over their genuine demands. According to Santosh Mallik, general secretary of LSM, the
administrative officials also gave in writing to take steps to fulfill the demands of the tribals as early as
possible. Satisfied with the concern shown by the authorities the tribal organisation decided to call off the
stir for the time being. As the tribals living in remote areas had not received any information about the
calling off of the agitation, many of them reached Mohana on Wednesday morning. Gajapati sub-collector
Madhav Chandra Bariha, Mohana tehsildar Bipin Chandra Mohapatra and the local Block Development
Officer held discussions with these tribals and their leaders at block office. (The Hindu 21/6/07)


Jharkhand backwards up in arms against return of ST Bill (6)
Ranchi : Backward communities in Jharkhand are up in arms against Union Govern-ment’s decision to
return the Bill to include them in Scheduled Tribes (ST) category. The social Welfare and Schedule Tribe
Ministry of Central Government this month returned the Bill which had recommended to include six
backward communities in ST category. According to sources in Jharkhand Government the Ministry
returned the Bill asking the State Government first to do a thorough study on these castes through Tribal
Research Institute (TRI) Ranchi. The Arjun Munda Hovernment had sent the Bill after passage in the
State Assembly in December 2004 just before the 2005 Assembly elections. The six castes were Kurmi,
Biar, Teli, Mahto, Khatori and Ghatwar. These castes were demanding inclusion of their names in ST
category for a long time and the demand got momentum after the State was carved out from Bihar in
2000. These castes claim that they were in the ST list in 1913 but their caste names were deleted from
the ST list in 1950.
The Central Government decision to return the Bill has invited sharp reaction from backward communities.
“The Central Government’s motive is not clear. If the Government wanted to clear the Bill then it could
have passed it in the Parliament instead of sending back for research work,”
said Jaleshwar Mahto, a Janata Dal(U) legislator and State party president. Echoing his view former
Home Minister and All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) chief Sudesh Mahto said, “The State
Government should expedite the research work and send the report to the centre so that these castes
could be included in ST category. There is proof that Kurmi and Mahto were in ST list before 1950.”
“Congress is playing politics over the issue. The Central Government kept the Bill pending for three years
and now it has sent it back. We will soon convene a meeting of Kurmi leaders and decide the future
course of action and how to put pressure on both the State and Central Government to push the Bill,” said.
(Pioneer 23/6/07)


Dantewada: Naxals abduct 13 tribals, release three (6)
RAIPUR, JUNE 24 : Maoist cadres today abducted 13 civilians, including six women and three children,
from Maraiguda village in Dantewada district. The tribals were abducted when they were returning from a
marriage ceremony at a village along the Andhra Pradesh-Chhattisgarh border. Sources in the police said
while two women and a child have been released, 10 people are still in the custody of Maoists. “Those
abducted were returning from Bangagudem village of Khammam district in Andhra Pradesh after
attending a wedding,” IG (Bastar) R K Vij said. The abducted persons were all living in the government-run
relief camp at Maraiguda in the Naxal-infested Dantewada district. “A combing operation has been
launched and police parties have been rushed to help track down the abducted people,” said Vij. This is
not the first time that Naxalites have targeted civilians. On June 10, Left-wing extremists had kidnapped
12 people from Dantewada and Narayanpur districts. Two of these tribals were later killed and their bodies
dumped near the roadside. According to sources in the police, Maoists have started targeting the civilian
population in a bid to gather intelligence inputs regarding Salwa Judum operations in the area. “Over the
past few weeks we have seen an increase in such incidents and believe that Naxalites are trying to seek
information regarding security deployment around Salwa Judum camps, movement of the force and other
local intelligence,” a senior police officer said. Meanwhile, the Chhattisgarh Police is on high alert to foil
the Maoist plan of an economic blockade of Bastar and Sarguja during the forthcoming week. Fearing
violence during the blockade, additional security personnel have been deployed in various districts. (Indian
Express 25/6/07)


CPI demands end to tribals’ problems (6)
Bhubaneswar : The CPI’s Koraput committee on Wednesday staged a dharna in front of the State
Assembly and demanded immediate Government intervention to put an end to the problems of the poor
tribal people. They alleged that even though their home district is full of natural resources like land, water
and forests, political leaders and corrupt officers have exploited its tribal population over the years. The
members demanded a CBI inquiry into the group clash that occurred at Kerkenda under Borigumma
block, in which a poor tribal Trilochan Ganda was killed in April. According to them, Jeypore Sub-Collector
had directed 50 beneficiaries to take possession and get benefit from the cashew fencing that borders
Kerkenda village as per the Orissa Scheduled Area Transfer of Immovable Property case No-8/2006. His
direction was also upheld by the High Court while disposing of the writ petition (civil) No-7022/2006.
Although it was given to the beneficiaries by duly constituting the village committee on December 9, 2006,
surprisingly it was given to all the villagers on April 8, 2007 in the presence of the Sub-Collector,
Borigumma Tehsildar and Circle Inspector of Borigumma, which resulted in a group clash leading to
Trilochan’s death. They demanded immediate resettlement and rehabilitation of the tribal people in the
forest land. Moreover, they demanded that the Dorua community residing in Koraput be declared tribal
with immediate effect. (Pioneer 28/6/07)
C’garh tribals still beyond growth loop: Report (6)
Raipur, June 28 : The Chhattisgarh Human Development report, recently awarded the prestigious Human
Development Award of the United Nations, has revealed that little has changed for the inhabitants of the
state’s tribal districts who continue to be engaged in traditional employment. The report, commissioned by
the United Nations Development Programme and published in 2005, said there was urgent need to
address the economic situation as an overwhelming majority of the population of tribal dominated districts
continued to be engaged in traditional employment. The report revealed that 78 per cent of the rural
households were farmers. Of them, only 1.5 per cent were familiar with modern agricultural practices like
use equipment, chemical fertilisers and HYV seeds. It was suggested that modern methods of cultivation
should be introduced while there should be public-private partnership to develop irrigation resources in
such areas as the bulk of land under cultivation in the districts remained dependent on monsoons. This
dependence also led to forced migration as a part of the population living in these villages relocated every
year in search of work. The report revealed that despite the presence of companies and public sector
undertakings like the National Mining Development Corporation, which carried out mining and quarrying
activity in tribals areas, the income generated did not go to the rural population. “The per capita income of
many districts seems to be high, but it may not necessarily reflect the situation on the ground,” the report
said. Giving an example the report said after subtracting the income from mining and quarrying, the per
capita income in Korba district dropped to nearly half, from Rs 33,763 to Rs 17,116, effectively bringing
Korba down to fifth position from the first position on the per capita income list. The same was the case
with Dantewara district where the per capita income drops from Rs 12,060 to Rs 9,133 per annum if
income from mining and quarrying was removed. The first ever Human Development Report prepared by
the state also revealed that the tribal districts of the state also witnessed an alarmingly high number of
infant mortalities. While the state infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births was recorded at 73 in 2003, the
scenario was grim in the tribal-dominated districts of Bastar (104), Korea (103), Rajnandgaon (112),
Kabirdham (96) and Kanker (86). “The high infant mortality rate indicates poor health services and
facilities which warrant immediate Government intervention in the health sector,” the report concluded.
(Indian Express 29/6/07)


VHP looking, tribal facing cow slaughter charges shot by MP cops (6)
BHOPAL, JULY 3: A tribal, accused of suppressing information about an incident of cow slaughter, was
shot dead by a police constable in Jhabua district on Monday evening. Thirty-year-old Ramesh Vasunia, a
resident of Jhapda village, was returning home with his family members when his bike was stopped by two
constables, who were accompanied by VHP leader Kamlesh Jain, at Piplipada Road. Vasunia’s
explanation that he was returning home after purchasing some material for his farm did not cut ice with
Jain and the constables, and an altercation ensued. Vasunia’s family members, who were present at the
spot, said Vasunia was dragged away and shot following the exchange of words. Jhabua SP Umesh Joga
told The Indian Express on Tuesday that Jain and other VHP activists had insisted on the policemen
accompanying them to follow up a lead about cow slaughter. The constables initially refused saying there
was no staff to man the chowky but gave in when the VHP men warned that they would complain to senior
police officials that the police were hand in glove with those involved in cow slaughter. Joga confirmed that
neither cows nor beef was found in the area. Immediately after the shooting, the VHP leaders fled from
the spot leaving the policemen to defend themselves in front of angry tribals who soon gathered in large
numbers. The situation took a turn for the worse when the tribals insisted that they would cremate the
body inside the police chowky in keeping with a local custom. A murder victim is cremated in the hut of the
person accused of killing him. The tribals accused the police of murder in cold blood and demanded that
the two constables be punished immediately. District Collector Rajkumar Pathak said the administration
had a tough time convincing the angry tribals to hold the cremation elsewhere. He said a magisterial
inquiry had been ordered and the culprits would be penalised after the inquiry committee submitted its
report. Joga claimed that the victim had a criminal record and four cases had been registered against him.
Jhabua Congress chief Kalavati Bhuria alleged that Vasunia was shot dead because VHP leaders
instigated the policemen to do so. “Where are the cows and where is the beef?” she asked, demanding
that Jain, who is absconding, be arrested immediately. Bhuria said the police had failed to register an FIR
even 24 hours after the incident. She added that the police forced the victim’s family to agree for a hasty
post mortem in order to suppress facts. (Indian Express 4/7/07)


Tribal groups caught in armed conflicts (6)
NEW DELHI: More and more indigenous groups and tribal peoples in mainland India are finding
themselves caught in armed conflicts between Maoists and various State governments since 2004
following the formation of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). A report on the ‘State of India’s
Indigenous and Tribal Peoples 2007,’ brought out by the Asian Indigenous and Tribal People’s Network —
an alliance of indigenous and tribal people organisations that seeks to promote and protect these groups
— has pointed out that while the adivasis or the indigenous groups do not share the dreams of the
Maoists of establishing a proletariat state in India, the naxalites speak the language to which the
indigenous peoples’ plight can be related to. “The naxalite movement is neither an adivasi movement nor
is it led by them, but the indigenous groups do form the majority of the cadres of the naxalites,” the report
points out while adding that since June 2006, the Chhattisgarh Government has directly involved the
adivasi civilians in the conflict with the Naxalites through the anti-naxalite Salwa Judum — the so-called
peace campaign. At present, 21 of the 28 States are affected by armed conflicts. Apart from Jammu and
Kashmir, the seven northeastern States are facing armed conflict over the demand for autonomy and 13
other States, including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya
Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, are witnessing
the naxalite ideological war, according to the report. With the exception of Jammu and Kashmir, conflicts
in all other States or areas involve indigenous people. (The Hindu 8/7/07)


Tribal’s death: Cops seek to blame victim (6)
BHOPAL I JULY 7: In a travesty of justice, the police are busy looking for the criminal records of a tribal
who was shot dead in Jhabua after being accused of suppressing information about an incident of cow
slaughter, which never took place. Ramesh Basunia, 30, was shot dead in Piplipada village on July 2
when he was on his way home in Zayda village. Four days after the incident, the police have registered
only a case under Section 304 of culpable homicide against an unknown police constable. Jhabua SP
Umesh Joga said the police had followed guidelines issued by NHRC by recording the post mortem and
by instituting an inquiry by a senior officer from another district. Trouble began when VHP activists led by
Kamlesh Jain forced constables Ratan and Dhirendra from Antarvelia police chowky to accompany them
to a place they said cows had either been slaughtered or being taken for slaughter. Jain threatened even
the constables that he would complain against them if they failed to accompany him. According to the
police, the victim had a criminal background and even those accompanying him on July 2 were involved in
some crime or the other. The police are trying to make a case that since Ramesh had a criminal
background he got scared on seeing the constables and attacked them in desperation. In his FIR,
Ramesh’s brother Teetu, however, said the police tried to give a chase and fired in the air. Ramesh who
was standing on an elevated stretch of road was hit and died on the spot. Meanwhile, MPCC chief
Subhash Yadav met the Governor and the CM on Saturday and demanded a judicial inquiry into the
incident. (Indian Express 8/7/07)


Sangh is ill-treating adivasis: Congress (6)
Bhopal, July 8: The Madhya Pradesh Congress on Saturday reiterated its old charge that the RSS and its
subsidiaries like the VHP and the Sewa Bharti were calling the shots in tribal-dominated Jhabua district
and subjecting poor adivasis to considerable torture. MPCC president Subhash Yadav told newspersons
after a visiting the district that those opposed to the Sangh’s edicts risked being decimated. The recent
incident involving the killing of an adivasi of Rayda village, Ramesh Basuniya, was an eye-opener on the
goings-on at Jhabua. On July 2 Ramesh and his wife were cornered by cops of the Meghnagar PS, with
the former pummelled to death on the basis of a “false” oral complaint by two VHP activists that he was
carting beef. Three bullets were fired. It was only after the anger of locals was aroused that the police
registered a case against unknown assassins. The post-mortem was conducted at 11 pm against all
norms, and the body delivered to his kin at 9 am the next day. What was reprehensible, said Mr Yadav,
was that the police fired tear gas shells at the crowds during his funeral procession. “Both the collector
and the SP seemed openly biased.” Such was the Sangh’s clout. The Congress, he said, would file a
private complaint in case Ramesh’s killers were not immediately arrested. The matter would also be
raised in the state Assembly during its coming Monsoon Session beginning on the 18th of July. Mr Yadav
also accused the state administration of complete inaction against the continued injustices meted out to
the Christian community in MP. There have been 81 attacks on Christian-run schools and places of
worship by militant Hindu outfits since the BJP came to power. No efforts, however, were made to initiate
action against thewrong doers anywhere. The BJP government was not even making a pretence of
justice, said the MPCC chief. (Asian Age 9/7/07)


Gujarat pre-poll games: Cong tells tribals to claim forest land rights, Act will follow (6)
NEW DELHI, JULY 9: Months before Assembly elections are slated to be held in Gujarat, the Congress
has started distributing application forms among the state’s tribals, exhorting them to claim their right on
forest land. The party is expanding its reach among the tribals in anticipation that the draft rules to
implement the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act,
2006, will be finalised and enforced shortly by the UPA government. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs sought
public comment on the draft rules last month. According to sources in the Congress, the government will
consider public suggestions and bring the rules into force some time next month. Elections are likely to be
held in Gujarat towards the end of this year. The Congress has launched the exercise to get tribals to
claim their rights (over land, minor forest produce, etc) as provided in the said Act. For instance, in
Sabarkantha district, 30,000 application forms drafted by the party have been sent to tribal families so far.
“About 13,000 families have already filled up the forms and sent them to our office. In these forms, they
have given details of the land they cultivate and live on and on which they have rights,” Sabarkantha MP
Madhusudan Mistry told The Indian Express on phone. “Once the exercise is complete, we will send the
forms to the state government for action.” Scheduled Tribes play a decisive role in electing one-fourth of
the 182-member state Assembly. Of the total, 26 seats are reserved for STs. Tribals and OBCs together
dominate 21 other seats, said a Congress source. Of the 25 revenue districts, 11 are dominated by tribals,
he said. Gujarat’s tribal areas are emerging as the busy arena for pre-poll political games between Chief
Minister Narendra Modi’s government and the Congress. “After Sonia Gandhi’s January rally at Devgadh
Baria drew a massive response, Modi announced a package worth Rs 15,000 crore for tribals. But he has
not explained where the money will come from and how it will be spent,” said B K Hari Prasad, AICC
general secretary in charge of Gujarat. The Congress also launched a 13-day tribal “awakening” rally
covering 10 districts, where the forest rights Act was the central theme. The party now plans to intensify its
programmes from the next month to mobilise tribals around this theme. (Indian Express 10/7/07)


Moments of glory in life of tribals (6)
KORAPUT: Dasi Nayak, a tribal head in his fifties from Rangabali Kumbha village near Koraput town, is
the happiest man these days. And why not. He would be God-king of Koraput on Monday. He would
perform the rituals on the divine chariot of the three Lords at Sabara Srikhetra that the King
Purusottamdev does in Srikhetra of Puri by performing Cherapahanra , the holy sweeping on the chariot
on the occasion of car festival . Even for one day he is the king , Danai Nayak, his wife said with pride.
Dasi, a landlord in his village, works as chief mason for quite a long time . However since the time he took
charge to perform the divine work on the chariot, he has dedicated all his work in Jagannath temple
premises for giving a divine touch to construction work , Dasi said. Now it was time for agriculture and a lot
of work had to be done in his 50 acres of land back in the village . But it was a call from the divine and
especially when the three Lords were resting in the inner most house of the temple for the last fortnight, he
had to be in the temple. He had to visit the temple at least twice a day to offer prayer as no one else
except him was allowed to go in while the Lords were taking rest in the temple. This was one of the
moments of pride that has been offered to the tribals at Sabara Srikhetra . Starting from preparing the
food for the Lords in the temple to offering the first fruits on the chariot , tribals are given top priority, he
added. Tribals from Upper Kondapalli are a part of the temple and also perform rituals in the temple on a
regular basis , Krushna Chandra Panigrahy, secretary of the temple said . With this kind of importance
being offered to the tribals , devotees from far and wide get attracted to take part in the car festival at
Koraput every year. The heads of tribal villages around Koraput would be honoured on the day at the
chariot with scarf by the District Collector while their fellow villagers continue dancing dressed in their
traditional dress and costumes. With the wheels of the chariot rolling on the highway carrying the Lords,
the event in the annual cycle of festivals and rituals on Monday will be unique, he added. (The Hindu
14/7/07)


Workshop for tribals ends (6)
BERHAMPUR: Over 300 tribals from R. Udaygiri block participated in a three-day workshop held to
sensitise them about their rights and steps for emancipation at Sialalati village under Cheligada panchyat.
Gender issues and processes for emancipation of women was a major point of discussion at the
workshop which concluded on Monday. (The Hindu 17/7/07)
Tribal women take centre stage at Sabara Srikhetra (6)
KORAPUT: With balloons in hands and large plastic flowers on their head, tribal women attended the car
festival in thousands at Sabara Srikhetra, Koraput, on Monday. Clad in beautiful sarees, they
accompanied their family men and children from far and wide from different parts of the district . Rituals as
per the tradition began from the early hours in the temple, while the divine chariot was made ready
standing on the National Highway at a distance of at least 400 meters from the temple. The three Lords
were taken out of the temple for Pahandi by 1 p.m.and were carried by devotees. The Lords were
swinging like dolls in the crowd while they were carried collectively by devotees to the chariot one by one.
The journey to the chariot was filled with joyful dance and music by the tribals. Various dance troupes from
the district and outside reached the district headquarters to exhibit their love for the Lords. Heavy rain too
could not hamper the interest in people from being a part of the celebration. Dasi Nayak, a tribal headman
from Rangabali Kumbha, performed the divine sweeping, Cherapahanra, on the chariot. Balakrushna
Sahu, district Collector and U.R. Rao, SP of Koraput, followed him all along tribal village heads and
volunteers of the temple were felicitated on the chariot by the district Collector. Tribals from Upper
Kondapali village were the first to offer fruits and flowers before the Lords on the chariot. Sanjib Hota,
Election Commissioner, C.T.M. Suguna, RDC, Southern Division, Pyarimohan Mahapatro, MP, and
Arabindo Padhee , Director, Department of Agriculture were among the top level dignitaries arrived from
the State capital to attend the celebration. While the chariot carrying the three Lords reached Mousima
temple by 5 p.m. after two-hour journey, the impression of the festival was carried to numerous number of
tiny villages in the district through flutes and whistles that the children had purchased from the fair.
Similarly, the chariots of the three Lords were drawn by devotees at Sunabeda and Damanjodi amidst
heavy rain while the chariots would move at Jeypore and Kotia on Tuesday. (The Hindu 17/7/07)


Tribals’ Rath Yatra at Sabar Srikshetra (6)
Jeypore : The famous Rath Yatra at Koraput town known as Sabar Srikshetra, which is totally managed by
Sabar tribals, was observed with great enthusiasm and religious fervour. The festival here has come to
occupy the second important position after the Rath Yatra at Puri. The chariot here is built only by the
Sabars, and the rituals, including the Chhera Panhara (the sacred sweeping of the chariot), are also
managed by them. This year the sweeping of the chariot was done by Disari Nayak. The Pahandi Bije of
Lord Jagannath was completed by 1 pm. There was a congregation of 40,000 devotees on the Grand
Road to have a look at the Lord of the Universe.The dignitaries, including the founder of Sabar Srikhetra
and Rajya Sabha member Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, Jeypore MLA Rabi Narayan Nanda, Koraput MLA
Tara Prasad Bahinipati, State Election Commissioner Sanjeeb Hota, Agriculture Director Arvind Kumar
Padhy, RDC (Southern) CTM Suguna, Koraput Collector Balakrishna Sahu dragged the chariot and
encouraged the devotees. Koraput being a Maoist-infested area and always under the threat of the
militants’ attack, the police managed the festival with great care and caution without any law and order
situation. The temple and its tradition began way back in 1980 at the initiative of Pyari Mohan Mohapatra,
who was then the Chief Administrator of the Dandakaranya Project. He started the construction of the
temple, which has now turned quite famous and carved a special tourist destination in south Orissa in the
name of Sabar Srikhetra. Mohapatra comes here every year on the occasion of the Rath Yatra. (Pioneer
20/7/07)


MP can’t explain tribal death (6)
Bhopal, July 24: The state government was put to considerable embarrassment in the state Assembly on
Tuesday following its abject failure to come up with a credible explanation behind the circumstances which
led to the killing of an innocent tribal (Ramesh Vasuniya), on July 2 at the hands of Vishwa Hindu Parishad
(VHP) men near Meghnagar, Jhabua district. The matter came up for discussion after Congress MLA
Satyadev Katare sought the Chair’s permission on the admissibility of an adjournment motion on the
subject. Citing the bare facts, he said, the victim and his wife were held up on the road by VHP men, while
they were on their way to Jhaida village from Meghnagar on a motorbike. Among the hoodlums was the
VHP district chief, Kamlesh Jain, who demanded to see Ramesh’s licence. When he failed to produce it,
he was first abused and roughed up by the self-appointed guardians of the law, and then in unison with
the police from the Atarwalia police station who made a timely appearance. When he tried running for his
life, Ramesh was shot by the police and died instantly. To cover up, the victim was brought to the hospital
and a hasty post-mortem conducted with the help of “cooperative” doctors. What’s worse is that when the
victim’s wife sought to register an FIR, not only was her version not recorded, she was also forced to give
her thumb impression on a blank piece of paper. Predictably enough, conspicuously missing in her
complaint were the names of the VHP men as well as witnesses to the killing, whose identities had been
furnished by her. The police even tried compelling the local villagers to organise a quick cremation. (Asian
Age 25/7/07)


Protest against hydel projects in Sikkim (6)
NEW DELHI: Members of the Lepcha tribe of Sikkim are up in arms against the Centre’s proposal to build
a series of mega hydro power projects in the Dzongu region that has been declared a protected area and
its indigenous people a primitive tribe. The youth of the tribe have come together under the banner of
Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT) and have been on an indefinite fast or ‘satyagraha’ for the past 35 days
demanding immediate scrapping of at least six of the seven proposed projects that, they feel, would
“devastate the region from head to toe.” On the one hand, the Lepchas have been declared a primitive
tribe by the State Government, and on the other, they are assisting capitalist companies to bulldoze,
plunder and devastate in the name of development of the land that had been protected for decades,
according to Dawa Lepcha, ACT general secretary, who is also on fast. The Union Environment and
Forests Ministry had laid down a condition while clearing the Teesta stage V project stating that “no
projects in Sikkim shall be considered for environment clearance until the Carrying Capacity of the Teesta
basin is completed.” The study is yet to be completed but several projects have been granted clearance,
the ACT points out. More than half of Dzongu, especially the upper region, is inside the Kanchenjunga
National Park (KNP) and the Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve. The dam site of one of the projects is
within a kilometre of the Park while 4,005 hectares of Biosphere Reserve are being offered to the
company in the guise of catchment area, including portions of the core zone in the Park, Mr. Lepcha told
The Hindu from the dharna site in Sikkim. The Hindu 25/7/07)
Walk-out over killing of tribal in police firing (6)
BHOPAL: The Congress and other opposition MLAs, barring those belonging to the Bahujan Samaj Party,
walked out of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly on Tuesday at the end of a debate on admissibility of an
adjournment motion over a recent incident in which a tribal man was killed in police firing in Jhabua
district. Through the adjournment motion, moved by the Congress party’s Satyadev Katare and others, it
was alleged that Ramesh Vasunia of Jhaida village in Jhabua district was gunned down by policemen,
who were accompanied by one Kamlesh Jain and his four accomplices. Ramesh was returning to his
village from Meghnagar along with his wife on July 2. It was pointed out that Ramesh’s post-mortem was
conducted hurriedly at night and the police cremated him the same night. Further, it was stated that the
victim’s wife was forced to sign on an FIR allegedly fabricated by the police. The Hindu 25/7/07)


OBCs reap fruit of growth, STs lag behind: Survey (6)
New Delhi : If access to better healthcare and reaping fruits of development are the indication of
socio-economic well-being, then the other backward classes (OBCs) have fared well in the past decade,
but the system has failed to uplift tribals. Latest health statistics show that OBCs are fast catching up with
the upper castes in socio-economic indicators like children’s immunisation, mothers’ nutrition and decline
in number of children each family. While the Scheduled Tribes continue to lag behind in access to
healthcare and nutrition.National Family Health Survey conducted across the country during 2005-06
shows marked improvement in overall health indicators of the OBCs. For instance, fertility rate (number of
children each women) among OBCs has dropped from about three children each women in 1998-99 to
2.75 children in 2005, much better in comparison to the SCs and the STs where each family has around
three children. The rest of the population, which include upper castes, have brought down the family size
to two children.Nutrition among OBC women has also bettered in the past decade. In 2005-06, 32 per cent
of OBC women were below the normal body-mass index (BMI) compared to 26 per cent among general
population. Among the Scheduled Tribes, a staggering 46 per cent of women reported low BMI during
2005-06, while that for the Scheduled Castes was 39.5 per cent. Contraceptive use among both the OBCs
and the SCs reached 55 per cent while the national average is 61.8 per cent. In comparison, only 46 per
cent of them used any from of modern contraceptive as against 53.5 per cent in rest of the population.
However, half of the tribal population has access to contraceptives, while it was 39 per cent in 1998-99.
Access to better healthcare is best indicated by trained medical help at the time of delivery. Almost half of
OBC women were attended to by a doctor at the time of delivery during 2005-06 compared with 59.2 per
cent of rest of the population and 42.3 per cent of those belonging to the Scheduled Castes. Tribal women
are most disadvantaged when it comes to healthcare during the crucial time with only a third of them
availing of trained medical help during delivery. Social and economic backwardness were prime criteria for
notifying a caste as backward, besides their educational status. The health and family survey shows that
OBC are more able to access healthcare facility in comparison to SCs and STs. However, there are
variations at the State level. In States where pace of development is faster, OBC has reaped the fruits of
growth. (Pioneer 25/7/07)


Gujjars seek ST status (6)
NEW DELHI: Gujjar leaders from across the country demanded Scheduled Tribe status for the community
in Rajasthan, severe punishment for those responsible for the killing of nearly 30 community members
during police firing in the State earlier this year, and establishment of a Gujjar Regiment in the Indian Army
at the Akhil Bharatiya Gujjar Sammelan held here. Addressing the gathering, prominent Gujjar leader
Kirori Singh Bainsla accused the Rajasthan Government of not paying the promised compensation to
those killed in police firing and of ignoring the community at large. He charged that on the other hand
hundreds of Gujjar community members were still being victimised as they have been wrongly implicated
in numerous cases that were filed when the community was protesting. Mr Bainsla also sought the
formation of a Gujjar Regiment in the Indian Army and said the community that is known for its valour has
always remained patriotic towards the country. Member of Delhi Legislative Assembly Ramvir Singh
Bidhuri, who was the chief guest at the conclave, said the community has now decided to convene a
Gujjar rally at Ramlila Maidan here on October 31 to press for its demands. The rally would see
participation of members from all over the country. And to mobilise support for the event, Gujjar Samman
Raths would be flagged off for Delhi from Jammu and Hardwar on August 16. Gujjar leaders would travel
to the interiors of all North Indian States in these raths and hold district and village level meetings. They
would tell people how their rights are being overlooked by the Rajasthan Government, Mr. Bidhuri said.
Stating that the community now wants Scheduled Tribes status in Rajasthan, he urged senior Bharatiya
Janata Party leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Rajnath Singh to intervene in the matter. Regretting that the
promised compensation of Rs. 5 lakh for the dead and Rs. 1 lakh for the seriously injured has not been
paid by the Rajasthan Government, Mr. Bidhuri warned the State Government of serious repercussion if
the interest of the community were ignored.(The Hindu 3/8/07)
Tribals bring out handwritten newspaper (6)
Ranchi : Rural people, particularly tribals, have got handwritten newspaper as a medium to air their
grievances and take their voice to the right people. Handwritten newspapers are published in some parts
of Latehar district of Jharkhand, 120 km from Ranchi. Latehar is one of the most backward districts of the
State, where Maoists also run parallel to Government. Gyan Vigyan Samitee (GVS), a Non-Government
Organisation (NGO) of Jharkhand, took the initiative to encourage people to bring out these newspapers.
“The idea is to highlight the problems of the Panchayats and villages of the district. Through these
newspapers we try to create awareness among the people and teach them about the Government
programmes,” said Pramod Dubey, secretary of GVS of Latehar district. He said, “Villagers contribute in
content and help us in writing news. Before scripting the news we verify the facts and only then the news
are written”. The newspaper is brought out on cardboard and written with sketch pen. It is a weekly
newspaper. People in different Panchayats decide the name of the newspaper. “We have formed clusters
and one cluster constitutes five Panchayats. At present, three clusters are bringing out newspapers with
different names,” said Dubey. In one cluster it is known as Deewar Akhbar, in another two clusters it is
known as Tori Times and Samay Chakra. The first newspaper was published on June 14 of this year. It
was pasted on the walls of the village panchayat. These newspapers highlight issues like road, electricity,
Public Distribution System (PDS) in a particular village and panchayat. One newspaper also raised the
issue of admission of children in Navodaya School. The newspaper alleged that children from outside the
State were admitted in the school whereas those from villages were denied admission. GVS is planning to
bring out handwritten newspapers at block level where Block Development Officer (BDO) looks after the
development works and sanction development fund. “For block level newspapers we will select news from
cluster newspapers which needs to be highlighted at block levels,” said Dubey. So far the response is
good among the people. “We have got our voice in the form of handwritten newspapers. We raise the
basic issues that are overlooked by major newspapers. No newspaper reaches our village. Radio is the
only medium of information,” said Ganesh Baitha, a resident of Chakla Panchayat of Latehar district.
Ramatahal Manjhi of Allaudia Panchayat said, ” we are actively participating in bringing out the
newspaper. We love to work as village reporters”. GVS sometimes faces hostility from people who dislike
the concept. “We are compared with Maoist. People say that we bring out pamphlets during the day and
Maoists do the same thing during night. But we are trying to associate people and make it newspapers of
local people,” said another member of GVS. (Pioneer 6/8/07)


The making of India’s first potential tribal university (6)
BHUBANESWAR: Five thousand tribal children, a sprawling campus, free food, housing and education
—formal and vocational — and a hi-tech deemed University next door. This is India’s first tribal University
in the making, the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) to be precise, a vision realised in
Bhubaneswar, a dream nurtured by philanthropist Achyutananda Samanta. Plucked out of the neglected,
inaccessible and remote tribal backyard of Orissa, the boys and girls are part of a project launched with
only 100 children on April 1, 1993. A sister concern of the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT),
KISS is a working dream that trained the tribal children to be self-reliant, resourceful and empowered to
tackle the challenges of life. For the visiting media team from Bangalore, KISS was an education in
looking beyond urban-centric development. From the well-stocked library, hostel and computer centre to a
medical facility that insured every child, KISS is also a home away from home. The institute ensures that
the children have enough exposure to their tribal culture, heritage and tradition. Music, meditation and
mentoring merged with sports, picnics and festivals to round off an invigorating mix of learning and fun.
For the once deprived tribal children, the road from KG to PG is meticulously laid. The KISS curriculum
takes them up from primary to higher secondary, Plus Two to Bachelor of Business Administration and
beyond, to post-graduation. If ITI diploma courses are for average students, high school pass outs can opt
for driving, TV repairing, mobile phone repair or tailoring
Varied careers. The KISS Polyvalent Vocational Training Centre ensures they could even find their place
in food preservation or canning. From poultry, sheep and goat rearing to pisciculture, dairy farm and
agriculture, livelihood projects await them too. For Dr. Samanta, the man behind it all, their happy faces
are proof of a dream realised. “After 60 years of Independence, the tribal people were still living in forests.
It was my dream to change that in a small way. Today, there are children here from most of the 52 tribes
of Orissa, including 13 primitive tribes. This year, we added 700 more tribal children to reach the strength
of 5,000,” he informed. Dr. Samanta’s faith in their abilities was fully reinforced when every KISS student
who took the State Board examination passed. Ninety per cent cleared the Plus Two examinations, a
performance far ahead of the State average of 59 per cent. “Even the dropout rate is zero. Every summer
vacation they go home, and everyone returns.”…….. (The Hindu 8/8/07)


“ST workers have lowest average years of schooling” (6)
NEW DELHI: Low level of education and poor access to land denies workers access to “good jobs” in the
organised sector. Those with poorest access to education and land are confined mostly to casual/manual
labour with socio-religious identity adding to their vulnerability, according to the National Commission for
Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector. The Commission in a report on “Conditions of Work and
Promotion of Livelihoods in the Unorganised Sector,” says among the workers in the unorganised sector,
the Scheduled Tribes have the lowest average years of schooling at 2.8 years, followed by Muslims Other
Backward Classes (OBCs) at 3.8 years, Hindu Scheduled Castes at 4.1 years and Hindu OBCs. The
upper caste Hindu workers at 8.4 years, fared the best, The ST and SC people are predominantly
represented in wage labour, the Muslims are overwhelmingly concentrated in self-employment. The report
has also found that women workers, especially those with lower social and educational status, faced
inherent disadvantages and systematic discrimination in the labour market. Women in the unorganised
sector have poor earnings and poor working conditions. About 54 per cent of the regular workers among
women are domestic workers. The other segment of disadvantaged workers dealt with in the report are
migrant, child and bonded labourers. About 8-10 per cent of the total workers are seasonal migrants, who
are poor and take recourse to migration as a strategy for survival. The limited social networks of these
migrants further increase their vulnerability in the labour market. The incidence of child labour has been on
the decline in the country. However, a large perspective of considering all out-of-the-school children brings
out the continuing nature of child deprivation. On the issue of bonded labour, the report says that since the
problem is defined by the definition of bonded labour adopted, there was no credible estimate of the
magnitude of bonded labour yet available. Yet, the Commission views the problem as huge in view of the
overwhelming empirical evidence arising from a number of studies and surveys. Agricultural workers who
are largely in the unorganised sector are an extremely impoverished and vulnerable group. Within this
group, agricultural labourers are worse off than farmers as they are characterised by extreme poverty
levels. Farmers are slightly better off than the labourers as they have some capital base in land. But
marginal and small cultivators have very little resource and also have to supplement their incomes through
wage labour. Their income levels are below their consumption level which leads to high indebtedness
among them. The problems of farmers are compounded by the slow down in the agriculture sector.
Farmer needs credit to meet both consumption needs as well as for production purposes. Increased
indebtedness is noted as a reason for a spurt in farmers’ suicides during recent times across a number of
States in the report. (The Hindu 12/8/07)


Khasi group wants Govt to follow SC order on tribal status (6)
Shillong, August 14 : The Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) has dubbed the
Congress-led state Government’s decision to ignore the Supreme Court judgment of stripping children
born of non-tribal fathers and tribal mothers of their Scheduled Tribe (ST) status as “hasty”. The FKJGP
said the Cabinet’s decision was unacceptable as the state Government did not get it clarified from the
Supreme Court. It felt such a decision, unless endorsed by the apex court, would amount to contempt of
court. In February, 2007, a two-judge bench comprising Justices H K Sema and A R Lakshmanan ruled
that children of a tribal mother and a non-tribal father cannot enjoy ST status (Ajan Kumar Vs Union of
India and others). However, Chief Minister DD Lapang said that after consultation between the Law
Department and the Advocate General, the state Government came to the conclusion that the Supreme
Court judgment was not applicable in Meghalaya. He said the case of matrilineal society was clearly
distinguishable from that of patriarchal society, where the children derive their identities from their father.
Lapang said the Supreme Court judgment was in respect to a person whose father was a non-tribal and
mother a tribal in Madhya Pradesh. FKJGP, however, said that the organisation fully supported the
Supreme Court ruling, saying it was a “protective shield against the menace of inter-marriage”. It pointed
out that the ruling would deter non-tribals from taking advantage of inter-marriage for business and
economic purposes. (Indian Express 15/8/07)


Supreme Court pulls up EC (6)
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has pulled up the Election Commission for increasing the seats of the
Scheduled Tribes in the 70-member Uttarakhand Assembly from two to three in violation of the provisions
of Article 332 (3) of the Constitution (reservation of seats for SC/STs in State Assemblies). “The mandate
of the Constitution is supreme and the Election Commission has no scope to go beyond the Constitution,”
said a Bench of Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice Markandey Katju. The Bench said: “It should be made
clear that the mandate of Article 332 (3) of the Constitution should always be kept in mind. Article 332 (3)
mandates that the reservation must be made in proportion to the population of the SCs and STs of the
State. This should be the paramount consideration of the Election Commission and not any other
consideration.” In the instant case, Anand Singh Kunwar and others filed a writ petition in the Uttarakhand
High Court challenging the Commission’s notification increasing the ST seats from two to three. It was
argued that three per cent of 70 seats worked out to 2.1 and instead of fixing the ST seats to two, the
Commission increased it to three seats. The petition was transferred to the apex court at the instance of
the Union of India. In its counter, the Commission said that the order of delimitation dated November 5,
2000 was passed by the Election Commission keeping in view the special requirements of the
development of tribal areas, particularly in the areas adjoining the international border with the two
neighbouring countries and the aspirations of the local people to be part of the mainstream process. There
was a strong demand for the increase for representation of tribals from the associate members and from
the public. The Commission said that it had rectified the mistake and in the delimitation order dated
December 28, 2006, only two seats had been reserved for STs. Disposing of the petition, the Bench said:
“Though now the issue is purely academic because the Election Commission having realised its mistake
has reduced the number of seats of STs from three to two and the notification to this effect has already
been issued, in order to justify the order dated November 5, 2001, the Election Commission has made
certain observations which need not be repeated again.” It said: “Now that the 2007 elections have already
taken place, we are not disturbing the elections on this ground but in future STs’ vacancy should be
treated as two only. We hope and trust that when any notification is issued, the Election Commission shall
confine itself to the mandate of the provisions of the Constitution and will not be swayed by any other
consideration.” (The Hindu 15/8/07)


AHADS project uplifts tribal people (6)
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Eco Restoration Project that began in Attappady in Palakkad district in
1996 has helped rejuvenate quite a large number of dried-up water sources of the region, thereby
improving the livelihood status of the tribal people domiciled there, according to a recent study of the
project’s impact done by the State Government. Enthused by the success, the Government has now
decided to continue the initiatives under the project till 2010. In the beginning, the focus of the project was
solely on eco-restoration measures such as forest and soil conservation in the barren hills of the region.
The Attappady Hill Area Development Society (AHADS), which coordinated the project, had also
encouraged the tribal people to take up simple ventures such as processing pulses and other products
gathered by them from the forests for being marketed in the nearby towns. Subsequently AHADS also
concentrated on social activities among the tribal people, trying to wean them away from alcohol and the
hold of ganja cultivators who exploited their labour. Houses are also being built for the tribal families now.
According to project director V.K. Unniyal, the benefits of various initiatives under the project have already
reached the families of 122 of the 187 tribal hamlets in the region. The Government has now decided to
extend the activities under the project to the remaining hamlets also. The Hindu 16/8/07)


Tribal land rights: Modi demands Central nod (6)
MEHSANA: Asking the UPA Government to allow Gujarat to allot land to tribals by Gandhi Jayanti, Chief
Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday warned that any further delay on the long-pending issue would not
be tolerated. “Gujarat is the only state which has allowed tribals to cultivate forest land and has given land
rights to them,” he said at the Independence Day function at the Police Parade Ground at Mehsana. “The
proposal of issuing land rights to 4,000 tribals has been pending with the Central Government for the last
three years. If no decision is taken in this regard by October 2, the Gujarat Government will provide land
rights to them and break the law,” Modi said, adding that he was “prepared to face the legal
consequences”. Attacking the Opposition Congress for “creating hurdles” in the economic progress of the
state, Modi expressed concern over “pseudo-secularism” which, according to him, was damaging the
social fabric of the country. “It is dangerous to promote religion-based reservation and conversion. Equal
importance should be given to all religions,” he demanded, highlighting the need to enforce a common civil
code. For the past few years, the official functions to mark the Independence and Republic Day are being
held in different district headquarters. (Indian Express 16/8/07)


Tribal youth gets justice at last (6)
CUTTACK: In a historic judgment, the Orissa High Court on Monday awarded a compensation of Rs. 8
lakh to a tribal boy who was illegally detained in jail for more than eight years. Pratap Naik of Boudh district
languished in jail till January 2003 though he was cleared of murder charge in October 1994. A lower court
employee, committed the goof-up, failing to place the acquittal order of the High Court before the district
court of Phulbani for eight years two months and 21 days. Terming the erring court staff a State
government employee, the court observed that the State couldn’t escape its responsibility of paying the
compensation. Senior lawyers said this was a historic ruling as never before a compensation of such a big
amount was awarded in any PIL case. The lawyers also pointed out that this was a rare case where a
lower court came in for flak in the High Court. The Bench of Chief Justice A. K. Ganguly and Justice
Indrajit Mohanty asked the Government to deposit the amount with the HC Registrar who in turn would put
it in a nationalised bank as a fixed deposit for 10 years. “During this period the victim would be allowed to
withdraw 75 per cent of the monthly interest. He would be at liberty to withdraw the whole amount after
maturity,” the Bench said. Pratap was arrested in February 1989 when he was only 14 years old. He was
convicted by the district court in December the same year and was sentenced for life. By the time he was
released after 13 years and ten months of confinement, including the illegal detention period, he became
severely ill, suffering from acute mental disorder. Pratap did not seek any relief for the illegal detention of
his own but a social activist Prabir Kumar Das of Bhubaneswar, who is also a practising advocate, moved
the High Court in September 2005 seeking a compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs for the illiterate tribal who is
now undergoing treatment for mental illness in a hospital. The High Court, which had completed the
hearing in June, pronounced its judgment in a packed courtroom saying: “Right to life and personal liberty
of any person cannot be curtailed by the State. So the victim should be awarded compensation for the loss
of eight precious years of his life for no fault of his.” “A poor man doesn’t deserve lesser compensation for
the violation of his rights by the State,” the court added. An elated Prabir Kumar Das said, “Justice for a
poor tribal boy after 18 years is not something to cheer about but it is nevertheless praiseworthy.” (The
Hindu 21/8/07)


Jharkhand tribals to strike on Tuesday (6)
Ranchi : Six tribal organisations have called for a strike in Jharkhand on Tuesday to protest against the
recommendations of the Delimitation Commission of India (DCI) to reduce the number of reserved seats
for tribals in State Assembly and Lok Sabha. As per the recommendations of the DCI, the total number of
reserved Assembly seats will be reduced to 21 from 28 while the number of Lok Sabha seats will come
down from six to five. “We have called a strike on Tuesday to protest against the DCI recommendations.
On September 2, we have called a meeting of tribal scholars and different tribal organisations to discuss
the issue and chalk out future strategy,” said Jagdish Lohra president of Adivasi Janadhikar Manch (AJM).
The other organisations that have supported the strike are Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch, Praha Raja
Association, Manjhi Parganaet Association, Dokol Sohor Mahasamittee, Adivasi Moolvasi Janadhikar
Manch and others. The issue is gaining momentum in the State. A strike was called in June also to protest
against the recommendations. But following the request from Chief Minister Madhu Koda, the DCI
members had cancelled their visit to the State. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), one of the ruling parties of
the State is also against the recommendations of the DCI. “We will soon call a meeting of our leaders and
decide future course of action. If needed we will stop coal and other mineral productions in the State and
support the proposed economic blockade in the State,” said a JMM leader. The tribal organisations on
September 2 discussed the issue of economic blockade in the State to build up pressure against the
Centre. “We will invoke economic blockade in the State if the Central Government fails to take suitable
steps to jeopardise the recommendation of the DCI. The Centre can reject the recommendations if it
wants,” said Chamra Linda, president of Adivasi Chatra Sangh. (Pioneer 21/8/07)


Tribals to sell land only after permission (6)
Bhubaneswar : Tribals have to obtain prior permission from the State Government before selling their
land. However, the Government would initiate pro-active steps to restore lands from non-tribals. Later,
these restored lands would be handed over to the tribals. In this connection, the Government would soon
launch a public awareness campaign at the tehsil level. A circular for legal aid to the tribals properties
would soon be issued by the Revenue Department. This was decided at the State level Tribal Advisory
Council Meeting, chaired by Chief Secretary Ajit Tripathy on Monday. It has also been decided that
awareness among tribals would be created about the newly launched scheme “Mo Jami, Mo Gharadiha.”
All efforts would be made to include all landless tribals in the newly launched scheme. A Task Force would
be constituted at the sub-divisional and district level to examine whether land reform programmes have
been implemented properly or not. Self Help Groups (SHG) would be set up at village level to save tribals
from clutches of money lenders. In order to boost the economy of tribals, 500 Primary Agricultural
Co-Operative Societies would be set up. Steps would be taken to examine on the proper implementation
of the Orissa Schedule Area Money Lender’s Regulation Act -1967. It has also been decided that steps
would also be taken to provide land pattas in a limited manner to those triblas living in the forest reserves
before 1980. The Government would make Rs 11 crore budgetary provision for this. The land pattas
would be distributed through the Gram Sabhas. The Government has also directed the Forest Department
to conduct an Impact study on how the livelihood of the tribals was enhanced after 69 items of minor
forest products were handed over to the panchayats. Eminent social activist Padma Shree Tulsi Munda,
who attended the meeting, urged the Government to relax the rules for the tribals so that they could sell
their lands. Development Commissioner, Revenue Secretary, Forest Secretary, RDC (Central) and RDC
(Southern) attended the meeting. (Pioneer 21/8/07)


Police ‘rape’ of tribal women rocks Andhra (6)
Hyderabad: An alleged incident in which the members of the anti-Maoist Police forces abducting 11 tribal
women and gang-raping them in the remote forest area of Visakhapatnam has rocked the State with
angry activists of women’s organisations coming out on the streets and holding demonstrations in
Hyderabad, Vijaywada, Visakhapatnam and other major cities. After the women, accompanied by a local
legislator, lodged a complaint with the local authorities on Monday, the officials sent the women to King
George Hospital in Visakahapatnam for clinical tests to gather medical evidence and to confirm their
complaint. State Home Minister K Jana Reddy has assured that stern action would be taken against
anybody found guilty, but Director General of Police MA Basit dismissed the allegations as an attempt to
demoralise and discourage the anti-Maoist force Greyhound from undertaking combing operations in the
tribal areas. The Member of Legislative Assembly from Paderu constituency L Raja Rao, who belongs to
the Bahujan Samaj Party, presented the women before the Paderu Sub Collector. He alleged that that the
police took women from Vakapalli village of G Madugula Mandal to a remote place in the forest, saying
they were suspected of having links with Maoists. The women told the Sub Collector that after raping
them, the policemen threatened them that if they revealed anything they would arrest them as Maoists.
The women said that in all 21 policemen were involved in this outrage. The legislator has demanded
removal of all the policemen involved in the incident and a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to each victim.
Visakhapatnam rural SP Akun Sabharwal dismissed the allegations as baseless and said that this was an
attempt to tarnish the image of the police. “When I sent Stalin, the DSP of Chintapalli to the village, no
woman gave a statement to this effect,” he said. The State Director General of Police, even while denying
the allegations against the police, said that a case would be registered under the SC/ST Prevention of
Atrocities Act and a senior officer of the rank of Additional SP would investigate the case. The incident has
caused much tension in the tribal areas of Visakhapatnam where Maoists have been active despite police
pressure. The issue also came up at the State Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The Information Minister said
that the Government was serious about the matter and it was waiting for the results of the clinical tests.
“They have also sent the material for further examination at the AP Forensic Sciences Laboratory in
Hyderabad,” he said. “The Government will certainly take action against those found guilty,” he added.
Pioneer 22/8/07)


Jharkhand tribals’ strike evokes mixed response (6)
Ranchi: The dawn to dusk strike enforced by tribal organisations in Jharkhand on Tuesday in protest
against the recommendation of the Delimitation Commission of India (DCI) to reduce the number of
reserved seats for tribals in the State Assembly and Lok Sabha evoked a mix response. Shops were
closed, roads wore a deserted look, majority of schools and colleges remained closed and Government
offices registered thin attendance. The strike enforcers hit the street in the morning and forced
shopkeepers to close their establishments. At many places ATMs were also closed down by banks as a
precautionary measure. The supporters of the strike blocked National Highways and disrupted railway
services in many parts of the State. Six tribal organisations in the State have called the strike. The other
organisations that supported the strike were Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch, Praha Raja Association,
Manjhi Parganaet Association, Dokol Sohor Mahasamittee, Adivasi Moolvasi Janadhikar Manch and
others. The strike was also supported by the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). “Our party supported
the strike as we are against the DCI recommendation,” said Sudhir Mahto, Deputy ChiefMinister and JMM
leader. Reacting on the issue Chief Minister Madhu Koda said, “DCI has just made a recommendation
and the Central Government is yet to take a decision on the issue. We have conveyed the sentiments of
the people to the Central Government”.As per the recommendation of the DCI the total number of
reserved tribal seats in the Assembly will be reduced to 21 from the current 28 and the number of Lok
Sabha seats from six to five. The DCI recommendation issue is gaining momentum in the State. A strike
on the issue was called in June but it was cancelled as the DCI members had cancelled their visit to the
State at the request of Chief Minister Madhu Koda. Pioneer 22/8/07)
Assam shuts down over ST status for six groups (6)
Guwahati, August 22: Normal life across Assam was disrupted on Wednesday following a 12-hour bandh
called by six organisations, which claim to be representatives of six ethnic groups that are demanding
Scheduled Tribe status for themselves. The bandh was called in protest against Tribal Welfare Minister P
R Kyndiah’s statement in Parliament last week against the demand. The six ethnic groups —
Koch-Rajbangshi, Moran, Chutiya, Matak, Ahom and tea labourer— have been demanding ST status for
more than two decades now. Kyndiah, however, informed Parliament on August 14 that the Centre had no
plans to grant such a status to these communities. Life was affected in the Upper Assam districts of
Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Sivasagar, Golaghat, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji. In Lower Assam, the bandh
disrupted life in Bongaigaon, Dhubri, Goalpara and Barpeta districts where the Koch-Rajbangshis
constitute the bulk of the population. In Guwahati, private vehicles including city buses stayed off the
roads, while private institutions, banks and financial institutions and a section of schools and colleges also
remained shut. Meanwhile, the All Assam Tribal Sangh has welcomed Kyndiah’s statement rejecting the
demand for ST status. Sangh General Secretary Aditya Khaklari said granting tribal status to more
communities would affect the interests of the “genuine” tribal communities. The Assam Tea Tribes
Students’ Association (ATTSA) has also called a bandh on August 30 on the same issue. Meanwhile,
frequent bandhs in the Northeastern states have forced the states to take some steps. The Bodoland
Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) council has imposed a ban on bandhs with BTAD Chief Executive
Member Hagrama Mohilari ordering action against those supporting bandhs. Mohilari on Tuesday asked
the administration in the four districts of Kokrajhar, Dhirang, Baska and Udalguri to take disciplinary action
against shops and establishments remaining closed during any bandh, and warned Government
employees of pay-cuts. Private establishments might even lose their trade licences, he said. The Karbi
Students’ Union (KSA), meanwhile, has called a 12-hour bandh in the Karbi Anglong autonomous district
on August 23 to register a protest against the killing of Sing Timung, the vice-president of its Diphu
regional committee, by security forces on Sunday. The Government has claimed that Timung was a
militant who was killed in an encounter at Barlangfer. Manipur has also come out with action plan against
bandhs and disruption of public order. A Cabinet decision taken last Sunday said the Government would
take strict legal action against sponsors of bandhs, blockades and general strikes in the state. (Indian
Express 23/8/07)


Keep promises, forest dwellers tell Centre (6)
New Delhi, Aug. 22: Adivasis and other forest dwellers have demanded that the government make good
the promises made to forest communities after they brought in the Forest Rights Act and reiterated their
demand for their rights which they said the government was trying to undermine. The National Convention
on Forest Rights, which was attended by organisations and representatives from 10 states here on
Tuesday, was addressed by a spectrum of political and progressive leaders. The convention condemned
the government’s “sabotage” of the Forest Rights Act and the repeated effort to dilute it through the rules.
Forest dwellers and activists protested against the assault on communities and their resources through
the forcible seizure of their lands and resources by corporate capital, government entities and the security
forces. The activists said that salwa judum was an “inhuman, state-sponsored” violence campaign in the
name of countering Maoist organisations, and actually intended to benefit corporate interests. Several
speakers said that the Central and state governments, through such subversion and assault, will create,
and indeed are creating, a spiral of violent conflict and repression in forest areas. The convention
highlighted the subversion of existing democratic policies and institutions, such as those embodied in the
Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (which gives the community control over its
resources), the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution and the recently passed Forest Rights Act. Delegates
from each state addressed the convention to describe the current situation in their states, including moves
to seize community lands for biodiesel plantations and SEZs, as well as brutal evictions of police firings.
Speaking on the issue, Gondwana Ganatantrak Party leader and former SC/ST commissioner Dileep
Singh Bhuria said, “Adivasis have only given to the world; we have taken nothing. The government says
keeps promising us pieces of paper that are supposed to grant our rights, but then demand other pieces
of paper from us first as evidence, which is exactly what they have always denied.” Forest dwellers are
opposed to rules of the act which stipulate that the gram sabha will only be an recommendatory body and
will not have any powers over forest resources and other decisions. On this, former SC/ST commissioner
and Bharat Jan Andolan leader B.D. Sharma said, “The government has to recognise the true democracy
is when the gram sabha decides. Until the gram sabha is given its due powers, this act will be rendered a
weapon against the people.” The convention was also addressed by the All-India Kisan Sabha’s Noorul
Huda; All-India Agricultural Workers Union general secretary Suneet Chopra; senior socialist leader
Surendra Mohan and Dr K.B. Saxena, former chief secretary of Bihar. All the speakers stressed the need
to fight the moves by the government, not only in the rules or in the act, but on the ground in the face of
brutal and illegal repression. (Asian Age 23/8/07)


Forest Rights Act a ‘non-starter': Digvijay (6)
New Delhi: Tribals should get rights over forest produce not land, says former MP Chief MinisterSenior
Congress leader and AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh dropped a bombshell when he disassociated
himself from the controversial Forest Rights Act passed by the UPA Government last December. Singh
told The Pioneer: “The Act was a non-starter.” Making a statement that is bound to create ripples in party
circles, he said that he was not a supporter of the Forest Rights Act. He added that he did not believe that
tribals and forest dwellers should be doled out forest land, as is envisaged by the Act. At the heart of this
stand is the belief that the Act is inconsistent with tribal culture and that such a move will have a
devastating impact on forests. Whether the tribals will benefit is also doubtful. Singh stressed, however,
that he firmly believed that the forest dwellers and tribals had been deprived of their rights and must be
made stakeholders in the forest. This should be done, Singh said, by giving them ownership rights over
forest produce. By making them stakeholders, lay our only hope in conserving forests, he said. Giving
rights over land was not the answer, but to ensure that the traditional peoples have ownership rights over
forest produce so that their livelihoods are ensured and that they have a stake in preserving the forest.
The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
essentially transfers forestland to private ownership. The ‘beneficiaries’ include all forest dwellers, giving
title to those who were occupying forestlands for three generations as on December 5, 2005. It also allows
for development within forests and protected areas and overrules The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and
The Forest Conservation Act, 1980, two Acts which have played a pivotal role in conserving forests. The
Act was passed amid much controversy and bitter opposition. Conservationists have argued that this was
a ‘dangerous’ Act since it would throw open miles of rich, pristine forestland to private ownership, thus
destroying India’s last remaining forests. It would also spell the death knell of the tiger and other wildlife. If
the forests went, so would our river catchments areas, and our water security. The Act, it has been
argued, was an ecological disaster. Whether it would actually benefit tribals was also doubtful since it
provides for a nuclear family unit, and may thus only serve to destroy the egalitarian nature of tribal
society. The Act was, therefore, not in sync with tribal cultures. The Forest Rights Act has been seen as a
political move to garner tribal votes and in fact during UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s visit to Devgadh
Barai in Gujarat in January 2007 while addressing the tribals, she had asked them to support the
Congress on the strength of the Bill. Singh reiterated his belief that forest dwellers were stakeholders in
the forest when he later took stage at a climate change event organised by a magazine on August 22,
2007. Addressing the audience, he stressed on the urgent need to use cleaner technologies, cleaner fuels
and said that the Kyoto Protocol “does not provide for the lungs of the forests, which are our carbon sink,
as it does not still accept existing forests in accounting for carbon credits. “Do we want to wait for the next
Kyoto Protocol, or do we want to check deforestation now? Conserving eco-systems and forests was one
significant mechanism to mitigate climate change, and forests, he argued, could not be seen in isolation
with people. The 1927 Indian Forest Act took away the forest rights of the people, which needed to be
restored. “Unless we attach livelihood of the tribals and the forest dwellers to forests, we cannot conserve
forests.” The rules of the Act have been drafted and now await to be tabled in Parliament. With a senior
leader of the Congress expressing grave concerns over this controversial Act, what will be its fate?
(Pioneer 24/8/07)


Tribal varsity Bill introduced in Rajya Sabha (6)
NEW DELHI: The Indira Gandhi National Tribal University Bill to set up a tribal university in Madhya
Pradesh was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday by Union Human Resource Development
Minister Arjun Singh. To be set up an estimated cost of Rs. 60 crore during the Eleventh Five-Year Plan,
the university will have its headquarters in Amarkantak and will be a Central university. Though
headquartered in Amarkantak, it will have a number of regional centres and campuses in the tribal areas,
particularly in the Indian heartland. According to the ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ attached to the
Bill, Amarkantak was chosen because there was no Central university specifically catering to the
population in the tribal concentrated areas of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra
Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat. This is in contrast to the other area of high tribal
concentration — the North-East . While the proposed university is aimed at facilitating and promoting
avenues of higher education and research facilities for the tribal population of the country, it will take in
students from other sections of society also. Like all Central universities, it will be open to students from
across the country and every reservation law in existence will be applicable. Besides providing access to
higher education to the tribals of Central India in particular, it will promote research in tribal art, culture,
tradition, language, medicinal systems, customs, and forest-based economic activities. (The Hindu
24/8/07)


Gujjars pledge to continue struggle (6)
Jhalawar : A mammoth Gujjar Mahapanchayat here on Sunday pledged to continue its struggle till the
community was accorded the status of Schedule Tribe, which it said, was a legitimate demand. A huge
pandal was set up in the local Ramlila Maidan, which was almost packed even before the meet started
around noon. The mahapanchayat in this area, which is the Assembly constituency of Chief Minister
Vasundhara Raje and Lok Sabha seat of her son Dushayant Singh, assumed a political significance, as it
was organised by the expelled BJP MLA Prahlad Gunjal. It was virtually a show of strength by Gunjal, who
first, was suspended for supporting the Gujjar agitation in June and subsequently was expelled from the
party last week, for his defying the party line on this issue. Sachin Pilot, the Congress MP from Rajasthan
and Col Kirori Singh Bhainsla, president of Gujjar Sangharash Samiti were the main speakers at the
mahapanchayat, which was part of series of mahapanchayats, being organised to press for the demand.
Pilot and Bhainsla said that the demand of Gujjars for the inclusion of the community in the ST category
was just and genuine and no force could stop the community from attaining this goal. Bhainsla said the
community would decide its future course of action on September 13 in the mahapanchyat to be held at
Dhaulpur. He said that the Gujjar Sangharsh Samiti, under whose aegis the community has started its
struggle, has submitted all the relevant records pertaining to the community’s claims before the high
power committee, headed by Justice Jasraj Chopra appointed by the by the Government to look into the
demand of Gujjars. He hoped that the committee would strongly recommend the case of Gujjars for their
inclusion in the ST category and the State Government would forward these recommendations to the
Centre. The term of the committee is ending on September12. Talking to newsmen, Gunjal said the
Government and the ruling party had put every possible hurdle in organising the mahapanchayat. The
licences of 200 trucks and buses, which were to transport the people to the venue, were issued at the last
moment. The Government had made elaborate security arrangements. Though large contingents of police
were deployed here, they were kept at bay from the venue to avoid any direct confrontation with the
delegates. (Pioneer 27/8/07)


Tribals learn to live with disease (6)
KASHIPUR (RAYAGADA DIST): Long indifference of government and administration towards their
underdevelopment has made people of Kashipur block stoic towards pains of suffering and death. Faces
of scores of tribal and dalits who are at the medical centers at Kashipur block either as gastro patients or
attendants bear no mark of panic or pain. They are facing an epidemic yet their eyes say they have
become stubborn to such situations, which get repeated at regular intervals. Death does not seem to be a
big deal for them. Tears are a rarity in the midst of suffering for these people. Acceptance of unchanging
situation has made them immune to pains. At the Dongasil Primary Health Centre (PHC), a person who
has already lost his son in recent epidemic and has got his mother admitted, seemed to be least bothered
about his own losses. Getting the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) nearby, he asked, “Can a small
bridge be built on a mountain stream within three days which can make his village accessible to
Dongasili”.At the Tikiri PHC Abhiram Majhi an attendant of a gastro patient admitted for the last four days
was more excited about the good free meal packets and drinking water pouches they were getting from
the administration rather than the improving condition of his patient. For Govind Hial from Dikaral village,
whose sister in law has almost recovered from the gastro infection, had a complaint that doctors did not
give any injection to his patient. For these ignorant tribal injections are the best remedies for any ailment.
He hinted that due to nonavailabilty of doctors, quacks make rounds of their inaccessible villages
administering injections for any ailment for a good price. Most of them had a major worry, how to get back
to their road less villages after patients get cured as the patients and their attendants had been
transported by vehicles of administration to the medical centres. The scantily-clad, ill-fed children
scampering around pigs and sanitation less tiny inaccessible hamlets are proof that despite the much
claimed KBK project and publicized activities of NGOs in this area little has changed in this area in last two
decades. The irony is that although official records show Kashipur is the experimenting ground for NGOs
no NGO activity could be seen during the recent gastro epidemic although the administrative officials are
working round-the-clock for the past 10 days to check it……. (The Hindu 28/8/07)


27 tribal groups dwindle in numbers (6)
BHUBANESWAR: It may sound strange, but it’s true. When population growth remains a major concern in
the country, population of as many as 27 tribal communities in Orissa has shown negative growth rate.
Population of 13 major tribes has gone down below 3,100. The stunning aspect of tribal population came
to the light when Directorate of Census Operation (DCO) and SCs and STs Research Training Institute
(SSRTI) released community-wise status based on the 2001 census of these two backward classes here
on Wednesday. Some of the prominent tribal communities whose population growth rate decreased
included Desia Bhumij, Mankidi, Chenchu, Ghara, Baiga and Tharua, said ‘Status of Scheduled Caste and
Scheduled Tribes in Orissa (Community Wise): Census 2001’ here. According to the report, population
growth rate of Desia Bhumij had gone down by 90.58 per cent while Mankidi tribes suffered 88.70 per cent
decline compared to the 1991 census. Similarly, the 13 tribes whose population was less than 3100
included Chenchu (28), Mankidi (130), Desia Bhumij (177), Ghara (275), Thaurua (453), Baiga (539),
Birhor (702) and Mankirdia (2803). Orissa has a sizable tribal population with 22.13 per cent of its total
population. The State houses 62 types of tribes, of which 13 are primitive. The State has one of the richest
diverse tribal populations in the country. The status report, however, said population of 10 tribal
communities had shown positive growth rate in 2001 compared to the previous census. Some of the
communities have been identified as Kol (137.20 per cent), Parenga (116.43 per cent), Madia (109.66 per
cent) and Kondadora (77.59 per cent). However, good news is that the tribal population has maintained a
good sex ratio. Compared 972 of overall sex ratio of the State, the tribal population is having a healthy sex
ratio of as high as 1003. When it comes to the rural area, the sex ratio goes up to 1006, but urban tribal
population seems to be toeing the general trend with the sex ratio going down below 1,000. The analysis
by SSRTI said the State’s tribal population is having more widows than widowers. (The Hindu 30/8/07)


Encroachment on forest land to be verified (6)
MUMBAI: The Adivasis’ struggle for land rights has received a boost after Maharashtra Forest Minister
Babanrao Pachpute ordered that the survey of “encroached” forest land be completed in Sakhri taluk of
Dhule district. People there have been protesting against diversion of forest land for wind energy projects.
Kishore Dhamale of the Satyashodhak Grameen Kashtakari Sabha, who has been spearheading the
forest communities’ struggle for land, told The Hindu that the Minister also stayed construction of wind
towers on forest land. Ever s ince two large tracts of forest land were leased to Suzlon Energy Limited
some time ago, the Adivasis have been protesting that their rights are ignored. In January, 127.94
hectares in the villages of Vitave, Vatve, Pangan, Panchmauli and Raikot was leased by the Forest
Department. Another 212 hectares has also been leased to the company for wind energy projects. The
new Scheduled Tribes and Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act passed in
December 2006 gives rights to those who had been cultivating forest land till December, 2005. The rules
of the Act are yet to come into force but governments in the country have already issued notifications
changing the date of regularisation of “encroachments.” In Maharashtra, the Revenue and Forest
departments issued a government resolution (GR) on April 23, 2007 saying the cut-off date was October
25, 1980. Various organisations protested this GR and last week the government agreed to withdraw it. In
June, Suzlon, in a letter to the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Dhule, said that in the event that some of
the land falling within the leased tract is legally allotted to the Adivasis for cultivation, both wind mills on the
leased land and the Adivasis could “coexist.” The Activists have taken exception to such proposals, saying
they must first be given rights to the forest land. The Dhule Forest Department has acknowledged that the
land leased to the company does have “encroachment” in places. Earlier in May, the district
administration, after an agitation, did agree to set up local committees to verify the rights of the Adivasis
on the leased land. A process was set in motion on May 12 and in 1,600 cases enquiries were conducted,
Mr. Dhamale said. However this exercise was stopped on May 22. Now the Minister has said the
remaining cases of “encroachment” must be verified by September 11. There should be 300-450 cases in
which enquiry remained to be held, Mr. Dhamale said. While the new Act was passed to redress a
historical injustice, the Maharashtra government, despite having so many laws and notifications to give the
Adivasis their rights over forest land, has chosen to favour companies, says Anand Teltumbde, writer and
activist, who was part of a fact-finding team which recently visited Dhule to examine repression of the
protestors. The team, on behalf of the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), also
investigated lathi charge at Pangan and Mograpada, 70 km from Dhule, where the police beat up villagers
and arrested 18 persons. It was at Mograpada that a huge pit was dug up for a wind tower, drawing
resistance by the villagers. There have been repeated agitations for granting land rights to the Adivasis
first before land is leased to companies. As a result, notices have been issued to Mr. Dhamale and two
others seeking their externment from the district. The CPDR report also said large scale deforestation was
taking place in the area. (The Hindu 2/9/07)


People continue to suffer in tribal areas (6)
Bhubaneswar : A whopping Rs 250 crore has been spent over a period of 20 years in the
tribals-dominated block of Kashipur in Rayagada district. But nothing has been changed. People continue
to become victims of the wrath of the nature. The outbreak of cholera has not happened this year only
which already claimed 178 lives in the tribal-dominated area of KBK so far. As many as 52 people alone
from Kashipur block became victims of this killer disease. Earlier, it had taken away the lives of hundreds.
The first cholera outbreak reportedly occurred in the recent history way back in 1987 in the Kashipur
block. More than 200 people died of cholera at that time. They all died just because they were unable to
get the proper food stuff and safe drinking water. All were the victims of adulterated foods and polluted
water. The tragic incident at that time compelled the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to made a whirlwind
tour to Kashipur. His tour opened the floodgate of financial assistance for the development of Kashipur
and other backward regions of the KBK areas. Later, the Centre gave an assistance of Rs 10 crore for the
development of Kashipur. Under the International Far-mer’s Development Fund, Rs 106 crore was
released for the overall development of Kashi-pur. A new scheme Orissa Tribal Development Project was
initiated for this purpose. Official sources said, in 1995, Rs 12 crore was provided under the special
assistance scheme of the UNICEF. In 1998 watershed mission programme was initiated with the
assistance from Germany in 1998. A programme was initiated under the banner TDH with an assistance
of Rs 15 crore. Under the much-hyped KBK and Biju KBK scheme, Rs 40 crore has already been spent
over the years. But noting has been changed. People have not yet get the minimum needs to fulfil their
requirements. In the last five years, many programmes under Pradhan Mantri Grama Sadak Yojana,
National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP), many works have been taken up. But it has
not been able to change the lives of the people of Kashipur. Kashipur boasts of 1.35 lakh population. Out
of it, 62.50 per cent belongs to tribal and 19.94 per cent belongs to SC categories. The Kashipur block
comprises 20 panchayats and 498 villages. Out of the 1014 tubewells in the blocks 550 tubewells have
been lying defunct over the last several years. This has compelled the tribals to fetch water from the
nearby rivulets. The block has only one community health centre and five primary health centres. The
sanctioned strength of doctors for these hospitals is 12. But only two doctors are working in the areas on a
permanent basis. Official sources said, the block officials have not been able to reach 70 per cent of the
remotest part of this block. Sources further said that most of the rice under several scheme never reaches
to the beneficiaries but later it reaches to the rice-miller for the recycling purposes. Planning and
Co-ordination Minister Padmanava Behera said, “Certain development has been made in the KBK areas.
But more things have to be done particularly in the field of creating public awareness.” He further informed
that Rs 1300 crore has already been spent for the overall development of KBK areas. Official sources
claimed as most of the NGOs working in these areas stress on the welfare of their organisations, people
continue to suffer. Similarly is the case of the Government officials working in KBK areas. Vigilance
officials maintained that the officials working in KBK areas , try to siphoned off the money as much as they
can from different Government programmes implementing in the area. (Pioneer 4/9/07)


Tribals attack forest officials (6)
AHMEDABAD: At least 20 policemen and forest officials were said to be injured when about 1,500 tribal
people attacked a security party with bows and arrows near Umarpada in Surat district in south Gujarat on
Thursday. The forest staff along with the police went to Haripura and Kajipura to evacuate the tribals
cultivating forest land.The police claimed that the tribal people of the two villages had already been
allocated alternative land near Ukai in lieu of forest land, but they refused to shift. They insisted that they
would cultivate the forest land they claimed to be holding for generations.Trouble had been brewing for the
last few days and on Thursday when the forest department employees went to Umarpada the officials
were attacked. (The Hindu 7/9/07)


DD Kashir accused of ignoring tribal languages (6)
SRINAGAR: Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir have accused Doordarshan’s Kashir Channel of ignoring the
State’s tribal languages, especially Gojri, in its programmes and described it as a “cultural aggression”
against the community. “The Doordarshan channel for Jammu and Kashmir, DD Kashir, launched by the
Government of India with the objective of countering Pakistani media propaganda from across the border,
has failed to serve its purpose in the tribal language Gojri spoken by nomad Gujjars of the State,” said
Javaid Rahi, national secretary of the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, an organisation working
for the overall development of the tribes of India. “I call it cultural aggression against the Gujjars of Jammu
and Kashmir as the channel does not telecast even a five-minute programme in Gojri, the language of
about 25 per cent of the State’s population, in its 24X7 telecasts and does not cover remote villages and
tribal population of the State in their own mother-tongue which is most affected by militancy. It, therefore,
fails to counter the massive anti-India propaganda launched by Pakistan Television through its powerful
transmitters in Gojri along the border,” said Dr. Rahi. This is the only regional TV channel for which the
Centre has allocated more than Rs. 299.87 crore for this year, he said, adding, “we are demanding a
10-minute Gojri news bulletin from Doordarshan Kendra Srinagar and Jammu.” Dr. Rahi said the local
television networks of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, especially Muzaffarabad Television, have lately
stepped up their propaganda programmes, especially news and current affairs programmes, in Gojri
language to influence the Gujjars. “This needs to be countered at the earliest so that they may not exploit
and misguide the Gujjar tribal population of the State in the name of region or religion,” Dr. Rahi said. He
said three memorandums signed by Gojri writers were submitted to President Pratibha Patil, Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Information and Broadcasting Minister P.R. Dasmunsi and a strong
protest was lodged against the Channel, but in vain. (The Hindu 7/9/07)
Tribals to rally for their rights (6)
SURAT/BHARUCH: To raise the issue of farm land for tribals of Umarpada, Lok Sangharsh Morcha
(LSM) will organise a rally in Rajpipla on September 17. Ambrish Rai, national president of LSM,
announced the future movement for tribal rights here on Saturday. Along with the issue of land in
Umarpada taluka, other tribal-related issues will also be raised at the rally. Simultaneously, Pratibha
Shinde of LSM addressed media in Bharuch on Saturday to announce the rally on September 17. “We will
protest with the help of thousands of tribals to show government that the action against tribals was
unjustified,” she said. On Saturday evening when LSM leaders were addressing the issue of injustice to
tribal oustees of Umarpada taluka, police attack on few tribals on Khotrampura crossroads were reported.
Amarnath Gupta of LSM said, “Police were beating up few tribals sitting near Khotrampura crossroads
without any reason. Police personnel are from nearby police stations and hence the tribals have no option
to even lodge a complaint.” Surat district superintendent of police BK Jha denied any such action by local
police in Khotrampura village. “This issue was not between police and tribals. Tribal have problems with
forest department so why would police attack tribals in such a delicate situation. Complaint has been
lodged against 57 people and actions will be taken against them but we are cautious enough that any
action by us should not create tension in the area,” said Jha. The situation is likely to remain tense in the
area as Van Bandhu Rath is set to take off from Khotrampura on Sunday. (Times of India 9/9/07)


Shah gets Forest for smooth implementation of Tribal Act (6)
Bhopal : Forest officers in the State see a definite reason behind Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s
decision to place both the Forest and Tribal Welfare departments under the charge of Minister Kunwar
Vijay Shah. The controversial Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights)
Act would soon be implemented throughout the country and forest officers feel that if the State
Government ensures smooth implementation of the Act, it could derive substantial political mileage in the
next Assembly elections. The Act, known better as the Tribal Act is being opposed tooth and nail by forest
officers throughout the country. At the Government of India level, the Act was a cause of friction between
the MoEF and the Tribal Affairs Ministry, which piloted it. However, by placing the charge of both the
Forest and Tribal Welfare ministries in the State with the same Minister, the Government aims to attempt
a smooth implementation of the Act. The Act with its seemingly populist agenda could be a vote grabber
and the Government would not like to miss the opportunity. Although the Act has been framed by the
Union Government, smooth implementation would earn the State Government brownie points with the
beneficiaries. Conversely, hitches in the implementation of the Act could adversely affect the chances of
the ruling party in the State Government at the hustings. The Congress would not let go of an opportunity
to blame the State Government for tardy implementation. Forest and Tribal Welfare Minister Kunwar Vijay
Shah at a recently held meeting with forest officers made it very clear that he aims at synergising
operations between the two departments under his charge. The message at the meeting was clear; the
cash rich Tribal Welfare ministry and the comparatively well-staffed forest department could work
together. Thanks to the politico-administrative move, Forest officers who had been opposing what the Act
stood for may soon become its unwilling implementers. (Pioneer 10/9/07)


‘Review Salwa Judum’s activities’ (6)
HYDERABAD: Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said here on Sunday that the
activities of Salwa Judum, which is fighting the CPI (Maoist) in Chhattisgarh, should be reviewed in the
wake of migration of tribals to Andhra Pradesh. “Tribals in Chhattisgarh are caught between the Salwa
Judum and Maoists and are paying the price,” he said at a press conference. “The Salwa Judum was
formed as an outfit aimed at people’s participation. But their activities are something different for the past
few months,” Mr. Ramesh said, adding that because of them, the Guthi Koya tribals were fleeing their
hamlets and taking shelter in Warangal and Khammam districts of Andhra Pradesh. “People are running
away from the Salwa Judum,” he said. The former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, Ajit Jogi, was also against
the role of Salwa Judum, started by Congress leader Mahendra Karma to fight Maoists. On the landmine
attack on the former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N. Janardhana Reddy, Mr. Ramesh said he still felt
the activities of Maoists had come down drastically in Andhra Pradesh. “But, the situation has deteriorated
in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and parts of Orissa.” (The Hindu 10/9/07)


Nomadic tribes ignored by Sachar panel: Tribal body (6)
SRINAGAR, SEPTEMBER 9 : In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, the Tribal Research and
Cultural Foundation, an organisation working for the tribal and nomadic communities of India, has sought
amendments in the Sachar Committee report. The foundation, in its letter, has stated that the problems
faced by the nomadic tribes be included in the report. “The Committee, constituted by the Prime Minister
to assess the social, educational and economical status of Muslims in India, has not addressed the
concerns of nomadic Muslim tribes,” spokesman of the foundation said. “The report mainly focuses on the
issues of settled Muslims and ignores the Muslim nomadic tribes, the Gurjjars of Jammu and Kashmir and
Himachal Pradesh, who fall under Scheduled Tribes,” the letter states. National Secretary of the
foundation Javaid Rahi said it is surprising that the 404-page report does not incorporate even the word
“nomadic Muslims” or “Muslim tribes” in it. “The report has not addressed the concerns of tribal
community. Issues like right to vote, recognition of traditional judiciary system popular among Muslim
tribes, political empowerment of Muslim STs, safeguarding their socio-economic rights and issue related
to their ethnic, cultural and lingual identity have not been addressed,” Rahi said. (Indian Express 10/9/07)


Karat writes to PM on delay in Forest Bill notification (6)
New Delhi, September 12 : CPI (M) General Secretary Prakash Karat on Wednesday sought the “urgent”
intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in notifying the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional
Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill 2006. In a letter to the Prime Minister, Karat said that
the “delay is inexplicable” and requested Mammohan Singh to “urgently intervene on the issue to ensure
that an important achievement of the UPA Government is not weakened or even subverted by the
non-notification of the Act.” The Bill was passed in both the Houses of Parliament in December 2006. “The
Committee for Drafting Rules was formed in March 2007 and submitted the Draft Rules in May 2007,”
Karat said. “The rules were posted on the website for public comments on June 19, 2007 and the last date
decided by the Ministry was July 31, 2007. It was expected that the rules would be finalised and the Act
notified,” he said. Karat held the delay in notification responsible for the grim situation of tribal community
in many areas. “Forest officials, who have been responsible for denial of tribal rights, have taken
advantage of the situation and evicted the tribals from many areas. Land cultivated by tribals for decades
is being dug up for plantations by the Forest Department in some states in an obvious attempt to preempt
the recognition of the tribal rights on that land. At the same time, there are reports of connivance between
land mafia and officials to take illegal possession of land. This is a most untenable situation,” he said.
(Indian Express 13/9/07)


Quota for Rajasthan tribals in Govt. jobs (6)
JAIPUR: The Rajasthan Cabinet has decided to provide 45 per cent reservation in subordinate
Government services to the Scheduled Tribes people living in the Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) area, comprising
six districts in the State, and 5 per cent to those from the Scheduled Castes residing in the same area.
The decision will benefit the tribals living in Dungarpur, Banswara, Sirohi, Udaipur, Pratapgarh and
Chittaurgarh districts in the direct recruitment to Government services. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje,
who also holds the Finance portfolio, had said in her Budget speech that the reservation for tribals in direct
recruitment would be extended to all subordinate services except the State services. The State Cabinet
has taken the decision in accordance with the announcement. An official release stated here on Thursday
the State Cabinet also approved 25 per cent reservation to the Saharia tribals belonging to Kishanganj
and Shahbad teshils of Baran district. (The Hindu 14/9/07)


Tribals reiterate demand for restoration of land to them (6)
Keonjhar : Tribals reiterated their demands for jal, jami, jungle at a congregation recently organised at
Bhagamunda Haat by the local unit of Chhasi Mulia Sanghars Samiti. The Jan Adhikar Sabha was
attended by around 1,500 people, mostly tribals, from nearby villages in which leaders of Visthapan
Virodhi Manch of Kalinga Nagar demanded for restoration of tribal lands acquired for setting up factories
of Tata, Facor, Jindal and other establishments in Jajpur and Keonjhar districts. State convenor of JAS
Chakradhar Haiburu, Rabindra Nath Jarika and other VVM leaders of Kalinga Nagar brought around 200
tribal people to the meeting from Jajpur. Bhimsen Munda, Dalit Adivasi Ekta Manch, Keonjhar, Jitrai
Marandi, Sushil Saian, Bhimsen Chhatar, Ramchandra Tudu and local ZP member Mangal Murmu called
on Adivasis to be united for their birth right as bestowed upon by nature. Noteworthy is Chakradhar Alda
was granted bail in last month by local court of Keonjhar Garh due to failure on the part of prosecuting
agency. Rabindra Nath Jarika,VVM leader, Sukinda did not attended in the meeting in spite of earlier
announcements as per information received. Leaf lets were distributed prior to the meeting.
Harichandanpur police was totally ignorant about the meeting. Observers say this is second tribal
congregation in the district within a span of three months and first one attended by VVM leaders in the
district. (Pioneer 17/9/07)


Communal trouble brewing up in Kandhmal dist. (6)
BERHAMPUR: A volatile tension is brewing between Kui tribals and Pana harijans in Kandhmal district.
The recent tension is because of the demand by a section of Pana harijans to be identified as Kui tribals in
official records as they speak Kui language and obey some tribal rituals. The Kandhmal district Kui Samaj
Coordination Committee has vehemently opposed this attempt by Pana harijans. Secretary of this
organisation, Lambodar Kanhar, says if the Government accepted Pana harijans as tribals then it would
lead to violent clashes between the two communities in Kandhamal district like what had happened in
1994. The recent tension has started due to activities of an NGO named Phulbani Kui Jankalyan Sangh
formed in Bhubaneswar. The Kui tribals of Kandhamal district allege that members of the NGO are from
Pana community. The NGO filed a case in the Orissa High Court demanding they be considered as Kui
tribals in official records as they have similar culture and tradition like Kui tribals. The Orissa High Court in
July this year directed the administration to investigate into the matter. But as per the Kui leaders of
Kandhmal district, the Pana harijans have started claiming themselves as Kui tribals at villages in
Kandhamal district, which is leading to tense situation in villages. A delegation of Kui tribals of Kandhamal
district held discussions with Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), southern range, Satyabrata Sahu
over the issue on Wednesday. According to leaders of Kui organisations of Kandhamal district like
Janmejaya Mallik, Dullabha Pradhan, Subhas Kanhar the Kui tribals who are called Kandh in Oriya are the
original inhabitants of Kandhamal district. As per tribal legend, Pana community migrated to Kandhamal
region from Ghumusar area when King of Ghumusar estate punished them for their criminal activity during
British era. The Kui leaders alleged that State Minister Padmanabh Behera was behind the recent attempt
by Pana community for political gains. Meanwhile, Mr. Behera has also come out with a declaration on
September 1 claiming that he has no relationship with the NGO, Phulbani Kui Jankalyan Sangh of
Bhubaneswar, which is at crux of the issue. (The Hindu 22/9/07)


Bid to dilute Forest Act: NGO (6)
NEW DELHI: The Campaign for Survival and Dignity, a network of voluntary organisations working for
forest dwellers, on Monday said the government was drafting rules that would render impossible
implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forests
Rights) Act, 2006. Addressing a press conference here to announce a ‘court arrest’ programme on
October 2 to demand notification of the Rules and the Act, activists from across the country said
thousands of families had been evicted from forest areas in the name of the Act even though the rules
were yet to be notified. Eviction in Rajasthan was being done in the name of seizing forest land for
biodiesel plantation; the Chhattisgarh government was using the ‘State-sponsored militia’ to “cleanse” the
forest of people, and the armed police in Orissa continued their stand-off with villagers fighting eviction by
Posco. The situation was worse in Jharkhand, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, where evictions had started
but no compensation was being given, the activists said. (The Hindu 25/9/07)


Legal literacy drive for Rajasthan tribal areas launched (6)
JAIPUR: A comprehensive legal literacy drive for tribal areas was launched at the historic Haldighati in
Rajsamand district of Rajasthan over the weekend with a call to protect the rights of the tribal population
and bring them to the mainstream of social, economic and educational development. Union Law Minister
H.R. Bharadwaj, inaugurating the campaign, called upon the tribals to resolve small disputes through lok
adalats or out-of-court settlement. “The tribal people have a great tradition of forbearance. They should
not waste their time and money in fighting prolonged legal battles,” he said. The Rajasthan State Legal
Services Authority, which has sponsored the special campaign for tribals, has also provided a mobile van
for spreading awareness about legal rights in the remote tribal-dominated regions in southern Rajasthan.
Mr. Bharadwaj inaugurated a Legal Advice Centre at the Haldighati Museum on the occasion. Supreme
Court Judges, Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice A.K. Mathur, said the knowledge of Constitutional rights
was essential for tribals as this would empower them to make intervention on behalf of local communities
to demand justice. Rajasthan High Court Chief Justice J. M. Panchal said the legal services would ensure
speedy justice to poor sections of society. State Legal Service Authority’s Member-Secretary H. R. Kuri
said nearly 25-lakh cases had been disposed of by holding 42,000 legal service camps across the State.
(The Hindu 25/9/07)


NCERT move to check low literacy levels among girls (6)
NEW DELHI: Keen to tackle the high school dropout rate and low literacy levels among girls from the
Scheduled Tribes, the National Council of Educational Research and Training is organising a training
programme for teachers to focus on empowerment of these girl children. The programme for “Teacher
Educators from Rural Areas on Action Research Related to Gender Issues with Focus on Upliftment of ST
Girls” is being organised by the Department of Women’s Studies at NCERT to sensitise educationists on
issues concerning education and status of girls from the ST categories. Thirty-two teacher educators of
the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) from the States of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh,
Orissa and Jharkhand are currently undergoing training in the Capital since September 5 that will continue
till October 1. “For the past three years we have been organising training programmes focussing on girls
from Scheduled Caste categories. This is the first time that the emphasis is on ST girls. The ST girls face
problems like cultural alienation and language barrier. In a milieu like this, teachers have to serve as
change agents,” said Mona Yadav, senior lecturer at the Department who is also the programme
coordinator. These teacher educators who are involved in further training other teachers, preparation of
study material and planning out education policy in the district will also promote awareness on the
schemes, programmes and incentives launched by the Government for the benefit of ST girls. The
teacher educators will also be trained on how to carry out research, analyse and interpret data. Apart from
the internal faculty at NCERT, officials from the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs and resource persons from
various national bodies have been roped in for the workshop.As a follow up measure, after the execution
of their action plan in their respective work places in different districts, the participants will present their
research findings at a five-day workshop in March next year. (The Hindu 25/9/07)


Oct. 2 protest to fight for forest rights (6)
New Delhi, Sept. 25: The Campaign for Survival and Dignity, a federation of tribal and forest dwellers’
organisations, said that the government is holding up the Forest Rights Act while engaging in manipulation
meant to sabotage the entire process, harming forests, wildlife and forest communities. To protest this
across India, tens of thousands will court arrest on October 2 in response to this violation of their historic
and fundamental rights. This sabotage will not be allowed to pass unanswered, said forest dwellers.
Speaking to the media, Shanker Gopalkrishnan from Campaign for Survival and Dignity said, so far most
of this information has not been made public by the government but documents seen by the campaign
indicate that the government is pushing for “critical wildlife habitats”, a special provision under this Act, to
be declared with such haste that any proper scientific investigation and decision-making will be
impossible. He said, “A relocation package consisting essentially of cash compensation will then be
‘provided’ to those being resettled from these habitats, allowing for large-scale corruption and leaving
people stranded with no livelihood. Vested interests are pushing for this to be done before the Forest
Rights Act is brought into force.” This is exactly what environmentalists have condemned time and again
as a failed model of conservation, yet more than Rs 1,000 crores have been allocated for this process for
2008. We suspect that accessing these enormous funds is a key motivation for these moves. Meanwhile,
the rules to the Act are being undermined to make it easier for vested interests to misuse the Act, while
genuine forest dwelling communities are denied their rights through various mechanisms, said Campaign
for Survival and Dignity. (Asian Age 26/9/07)


Govt rejects Panas’ claim as ST in Kandhamal (6)
Bhubaneswar : The tribals of backward Kandhamal district have accused Collector Gangadhar Singh of
discrimination against them. A leading tribal organisation has dubbed him as a ‘stooge’ of the Minister
from the district. But keeping in mind the tribal votes, Singh was shifted from the district on Monday. The
ST & SC Development Department has issued a clarification over the contentious issue, which has
threatened a repetition of the 1994 agitation. Tribals are up in arms against the claim of the Kui
language-speaking Panas to recognise them as tribals. Panas belong to the Scheduled Caste (SC) and
they are now demanding inclusion of Kui-speakers as the Scheduled Tribe (ST). Commissioner -cum-
Secretary, ST & SC Development Department Dr Taradatt has outright rejected the idea, saying, “It will
not be permissible to include or specify all the Kui language speakers as ST.” The issue cropped up
following a writ petition filed by the Phulbani Kui Janakalyan Sangh (PKJS) in the Orissa High Court
pleading for correction of the Records of Right (RORs) to show them as Kui (ST) in place of Pana (SC) as
they are speaking the Kui language. The High Court, while disposing of the petition, has asked the State
Government to look into the matter and make necessary correction of the RORs in accordance with the
Presidential Order 2002. The Presidential Order 2002 reads as follows: “In Entry 31, at the end, insert
Kondh, Kui, Buda Kondh, Bura Kondh, Desia Kondh, Dungria Kondh, Kutia Kondh, Kondh Gauda, Muli
Kondh, Maula Kondh, Pengo Kondh, Raja Kondh and Raj Kondh.” Before the amendment under
reference, the Presidential Order 2002 specified “Kondh, Kond, Kandha, Manguli Kandha, Sitha Kandha”
as ST for the State of Orissa. It is quite clear from the communities mentioned in the Entry 31 that there is
no scope to read Pana as ST. Dr Taradatt’s clarification states, “It is a well-known fact that Kondh, Kond
and Kandha tribes in Orissa speak Kui language. There are other communities and castes including Pana
/Pano who live in their neighbourhood and speak the same language.” In view of the High Court’s order,
the claim of an individual to be noted in the ROR as a Kui tribe may be considered for correction of ROR
only if such claims are supported by authentic documents, field verification reports and proof to the
satisfaction of competent authority that their caste has been wrongly indicated in ROR as Pano, though in
fact their caste is Kondh/Kond/Kandha/ Kui, reads the Govt order. Now it is quite apparent that the State
Govt is in no mood to oblige the Kui-speaking Panas to allow them as ST in RORs. (Pioneer 26/9/07)


Tribals vs wildlife: Govt to mark ‘inviolate areas’ in tiger reserves (6)
NEW DELHI, September 26: There is a reason why the implementation of the controversial Tribal Act has
been held up. Before the government comes up with final rules to enforce the law, it wants to complete
another mammoth exercise — preparing guidelines for declaring large tracts of forest land as “critical
wildlife habitats”. This will restrict the area where the Tribal Act is applicable. The Act recognises the rights
of tribals over forest land they have been occupying for generations. The Bill was passed by the
Parliament in December 2006 after sharp differences between tribal activists and wildlife enthusiasts who
believed that the Act would sound the death knell for several wildlife species on the brink. To protect
tigers, the government is planning to declare an “inviolate area” of at least 800-1200 square kilometers in
every tiger reserve. Each of these reserves may have 1000 sq km of buffer. An estimated Rs 10 lakh will
be paid to each tribal family in this area for relocation. “This exercise is under the provision of the Act,”
said Rajesh Gopal, director, Project Tiger. According to officials at the Ministry of Environment and
Forests, this is on the basis of the Tiger Estimation exercise undertaken by the Wildlife Institute of India. It
is the “bare minimum area” for any forest to support even 60-70 tigers. Tribal activists disagree. “This is
not scientific and is being done in haste. These boundaries are to be mapped in all the tiger reserves in 30
days. How can a site-specific process, meant to be based on real ecological situation be completed within
30 days?” said Shankar Gopalakrishnan of the Campaign for Survival and Dignity. Tribal activists plan a
jail bharo andolan from October 2. (Indian Express 27/9/07)


Tribal girl raped in Patna (6)
PATNA: Pushpa (name changed), a tribal girl, was raped by unidentified youths at Patna Junction on
Friday. Police said the 15-year-old tribal girl, along with her friend Priti (name changed) from Jharkhand,
fled from the hostel of Prayas Bharti late on Thursday night to catch a train to her home state. She was
staying at the hostel for about two months and was desperate to meet her parents. The girl arrived at
Patna Junction to catch a train to her native place. But, she was taken for a ride by some unidentified
youths who promised to help her in the journey back to home. This, however, never happened and the girl
was raped. Later, Pushpa narrated her tale of woes to a correspondent of an electronic channel. After this,
police swung into action and a case of rape against unidentified person was lodged with the Kotwali police
station late on Friday evening.(Times of India 29/9/07)


Up to 6 husbands, superstitions: For ST status, Gurjjars list their primitive traits (6)
New Delhi September 29: Did you know that Gurjjars get their children’s nappies engaged or that they
sometimes marry children in the womb? Or that they worship the neem tree, don’t sell milk on special
days dedicated to their deity Devnarayan and live up to the phrase “Dantli main myan nahin, gurjjar main
gyan nahin” (A sickle has no cover and a Gurjjar has no knowledge). These quaint rituals and common
phrases have become part of crucial documentation by the community to prove their tribal status. The
otherwise reticent Gurjjar is now talking endlessly. Across Rajasthan, they are discussing their degree of
backwardness, chiding each other for “behaving like a Gurjjar” and telling the world about their “absurd”
habits. For the last three months, Gurjjars have presented affidavits and made representation to the
three-member committee headed by retired Justice Jasraj Chopra. In all of them, they have explained at
length how backward they are. The committee was set up after the May-June violence in the state. The
state government has asked the committee to examine the norms laid down for Gujjars in their current
status in the OBC category and consider their representation for inclusion in the ST list. “Earlier the craze
was to move forward,” says Justice Chopra. “Now it is the opposite. Everybody wants to become
backward and prove that they are primitive.” Affidavits filed before the committee have sections dedicated
to social backwardness in which local phrases are highlighted to prove they are traditionally dullards. The
community is underlining polyandry, illogical belief in superstition and the custom of child marriage.
Women representatives have told the committee that their future is controlled by the Panchayat and that
they have half-a-dozen husbands. “We have no choice. To get what we want we have to highlight the
negative aspects of our community,” says Ram Swaroop, a school teacher in Sikar. In one representation,
a Gurjjar told the committee how 30 years ago his ancestor jumped into a well when a tehsildar came to
ask him for some documents. “It shows how scared and isolated we are from the rest of the world,”
argues Swaroop. So far, 14,000 representations and 32,000 affidavits have been filed before the
committee. Justice Chopra, sociologist Yogesh Atal (a member) and special secretary T Srinivasan have
between them surveyed 107 villages so far, mainly in Alwar and Ajmer. Their target is 300 villages across
the state. While the Gurjjars have given researched articles and documented writings to prove their tribal
origins, the Meenas have vociferously argued against the Gurjjars. The committee, which was to finish its
work in three months, has now been given an extension. “We are simultaneously taking the assistance of
experts to analyse the documents we are being given. Also, all data is being computerised and we should
be able to wind up by December 15,” says Chopra. …….. (Indian Express 30/9/07)


GUJJAR AGITATION
Pressure on Gujjars to postpone Dhaulpur meet (6)
Jaipur : Efforts are on to persuade leaders of the Gujjar Sangharsh Samiti to postpone its proposed
Mahapanchayat on September 13 at Dhaulpur, which is expected to decide its future course of action with
regard to its demand for inclusion of the community in the ST category. The Home Minister Gulab Chand
Katraia on Thursday night held a meeting with the leaders of the Samiti and apprised them of the progress
made by the three-member committee, headed by Justice Jasraj Chopra, appointed by the Government in
June last to look into the case of Gujjar community.Leaders of the Samiti said that if Chopra committee
failed to submit its report within three months, the agitation of Gujjars would be revived. This was the main
agenda of the Mahapanchayat. (Pioneer 8/9/07)


HC order on Gujjars a relief to Raje Govt (6)
Jaipur : An interim order of the Rajasthan High Court, directing the State Government not to recommend
the inclusion of Gujjars in the list of Scheduled Tribes to the Central Government in a hurry, has come as
a big relief. The court also directed the Collector of Dhaulpur not to allow any rallies in the area. If some
one seeks permission to hold a rally or Mahapanchayat, the Collector should decide as per the rules. In
such a situation, the Collector would be responsible for maintaining law and order. If such a rally caused
damage to Government property, the Collector would be accountable for the same. These two directives
of the High Court came on Monday during the hearing on a petition filed by Lakham Singh and Srinaryan
Kaimla before a single bench comprising Justice Prem Shankar Asopa. The petitioners had challenged
the appointment of the Jasraj Chopra Committee to look into the demands of the Gujjar Sangharsh Samiti
for listing of the community as a Scheduled Tribe. The petitioners also sought that the Gujjar
Mahapanchayat at Dhaulpur on September 13 not be allowed. The Government, after an agreement with
the Gujjar Sangharash Samiti, had given three months time to the Chopra Committee to submit its report.
The three-month period is ending on September 12 but Justice Chopra sought an extension of three
months. The Government had urged the Sanghrash Samiti to wait for another three months but the Samiti
disagreed and said it would decide its next course of action at the proposed Mahapanchayat. (Pioneer
12/9/07)


Gujjar Mahapanchayat to relaunch stir demanding ST status (6)
Badi (Dhaulpur) : Rejecting the Government’s decision to give more time to the three-member high
powered Chopra Committee, the Gujjar Mahapanchayat on Thursday announced plans to launch a
non-violent agitation from October 2, to press their demand for inclusion of the community in the list of
Scheduled Tribes. Though the sober elements of Gujjar Sanghrash Samiti (GSS), spearheading the
agitation to get the ST status, were in the mood to give some more time to the Government and the
Chopra Committee, the crowd, estimated about a lakh, refused to listen to them. When GSS president Col
Kirori Singh Bainsla said that there was no harm in giving one more month to the committee to complete
its work, the crowd loudly said no and Bainsla and other leaders were virtually forced to announce the
re-launch of the agitation from October 2. Last night, the Government had extended the term of the Jasraj
Chopra Committee, looking into the case of Gujjars. The Government said that the term of the committee
was being extended after consultations with GSS. But its leaders said that at no stage they agreed to give
more time to the committee, which was appointed on June 12 and was given three months time to submit
its report. Talking to mediapersons, Col Bainsla said that the Government has the prerogative to extend
the term of the committee and GSS has nothing to do with it. But at the same time GSS is free to reject
the decision of the Government, which had promised that the committee would submit its report within the
stipulated time. The GSS selected the day and venue of Thursday’s Mahapanchayat very carefully. The
annual Babu Maharaj Mela, on Thursday, was held near the temple. Thousands of people from the Gujjar
community came to participate in the Mela, which is one of the major attraction in the area. People from
the adjoining areas started reaching here since Wednesday evening. Most of them spent their time in
attending the Mahapachayat after performing the puja at the temple. The district administration had made
elaborate police arrangements. (Pioneer 14/9/07)


Gujjars plan “jail bharo” from October 2 (6)
JAIPUR: The Gujjar community’s ‘mahapanchayat’ in Dholpur district on Thursday refused to condone the
Rajasthan Government’s act of extending the term of the Justice Jasraj Chopra Committee by another
three months. The Committee was appointed to look into the Gujjars’ demand for Scheduled Tribe status .
The mahapanchayat, which went on for seven hours from 10 a.m. amidst minor skirmishes and flare-ups
amongst the jostling crowd, finally resolved to commence a “jail bharo”(courting arrest) agitation from
October 2, the Gandhi Jayanti day. A day after the deadline set by the community leaders for a positive
response to their demand from the Government expired, the Gujjar leaders on the dais at Pabuji Ki Than,
a religious place some 37 km from Dholpur town in Bari tehsil, were visibly floundering but those
assembled there from several States — Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh,
Gujarat and Maharashtra — were firm on not granting any more time to the State Government. (The
Hindu 14/9/07)


Meenas plan meets to counter Gujjar agitation (6)
Jaipur : Ahead of the proposed Jail Bharo agitation by Gujjars for the inclusion of the community in
Schedule Tribe from October 2, Meenas, the dominant ST community in the State, would hold a series of
Meena Mahasammelans to oppose the demand of Gujjars. The Action Committee of the Rashtriya
Janjatia Arkashan Bachao Samiti, had decided to have the first such meet at Thanagazi in Alwar on
September 30. This would be followed by Sammelans at Khatu Shayamji on October 7 and Karauli on
October 14. According to Bhanwar Lal Meena, convener of the action committee, the Gujjars are
unnecessarily pressing for ST status for the community. Meanwhile, talking to mediapersons at Alwar on
Sunday, Col Kirori Singh Bainsla, president of the Gujjar Sangharash Samiti (GSS) spearheading the
agitation, said that at least five lakh Gujjars across the State, would participate in the Jail Bharo agitation.
The district level coordination committees have been formed to mobilise the support for the agitation, he
said. Col Bainsla said that the Justice Chopra Committee, looking into the demands of the Gujjars, is
doing its work satisfactorily. He hoped that the committee would recommend ST status for Gujjars.
Keeping in view of the Jail Bharo agitation, the Government has started identifying buildings where
arrested agitators could be kept. This was necessary because of the limited accommodation available in
different jails in the State. The total capacity of the jails in the State is about 17,000 and currently about
14,000 prisoners are lodged in them. According to sources, the Government is persuading the GSS to
keep its Jail Bharo agitation as symbolic one and not to covert it into a mass agitation. (Pioneer 25/9/07)


Five lakh Gujjars to court arrest on Oct 2 (6)
Jaipur : Over five lakh Gujjars will court arrest in Rajasthan on Gandhi Jayanti Day over the community’s
demand for SC status, the Gujjar Mahasabha announced here on Wenesday. The Mahasabha’s core
group led by two BJP rebel MLAs Atar Singh Bhadana and Prahalad Gunjal also warned the Raje
Government that if a recommendation letter with its Cabinet approval was not sent to the Centre by
October 10, women and children of the community would also court arrest from October 11, according to
a spokesman. The group rejected a three-month extension to the Justice Chopra committee on the
Gujjars’ status in Rajastan, alleging it was ridiculous to give it more time, the spokesman said. Retired
Colonel Kirori Singh Bainsala, who was the main signatory of the Gujjar-Government accord of June 4
after an agitation on the issue, was not present at Wednesday’s meeting, the spokesman said. (Pioneer
27/9/07)


Modi hands over forest land rights to tribals (6)
Ahmedabad : Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi challenged the UPA ruled Centre to take action
against him for handing over ownership rights of forest lands to the tribals in defiance of the Central law.
The Chief Minister used the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti day here on Tuesday to flag off his ‘civil
disobedience ‘movement from the open air theatre in the heart of new Ahmedabad with a token gesture of
handing over ownership rights to 30 tribals selected from different talukas in the tribal belt. “The titles to
the remaining 2,204 tribals would be dispatched to their addresses,” he announced at the function held
under the aegis of the State Forest Department. The function was a sequel to the warning held out by the
Chief Minister during the flag hoisting on Independence Day wherein he had said that if the Centre failed
to give its approval by this date, he would go ahead by handing over the papers for the rights to forest land
for the remaining tribals. According to the Chief Minister, the Centre had failed to clear the proposals of
the State Government for giving over land ownership rights to 3,355 tribals under the 1980 Forest Act.”All
formalities of 2,204 applicants for ownership rights of 1,122 hectares of forest land stands cleared and yet
the assent is not forthcoming,” he added. The Chief Minister held the Centre responsible for neglecting
them as well as hurting their sentiments as was visible from the Ram setu episode. While attributing
motives to the Government of deliberately neglecting the tribals, he said the Centre had failed to form
rules for the implementation of the revised Forest Land Act adopted in 2005. Meanwhile, a new tribal
district, Tapi with headquarters at Vyara and comprising five tribal tehsils carved out of rural areas of Surat
district, came into being on Tuesday. The 26th district is the Chief Minister’s Gandhi Jayanti gift to the
State. (Pioneer 3/10/07)


Forest dwellers court arrest (6)

New Delhi, Oct. 3: Hundreds of tribals and forest dwellers marched and courted arrest in various parts of
the country on Tuesday on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanthi to protest against the government’s move to
“sabotage” the Forest Rights Act. The protests will continue in the coming weeks. The central demands of
the tribals and forest dwellers are: no more attacks on their people, no more destruction of their
homelands and no more sabotage of their rights. The protesters oppose the moves to “sabotage” the
Forest Rights Act by undermining the rules and engaging in sabotage of rights through sham efforts at
tiger conservation. The protesters also condemn the repeated moves of the government to use police
forces and violence to seize the resources of tribals and forest dwellers, while sabotaging all laws that
provide for democratic control over forests and resources. On Tuesday, people joined protests across
Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and elsewhere to show their
protest. Tens of thousands faced arrest and detention by the police. In the following weeks, protests will
continue in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu. The groups
made the following demands with the slogan: “Jangal ko azad karo (give freedom to the forests).” They
demanded that the government recognise all genuine forest dependent people and exclude contractors,
traders, and exploiters and stop the militarisation and seizure of their lands. (Asian Age 4/10/07)


Judges help create legal awareness among tribals (6)
Koraput : A district-level Legal Awareness Camp was organised by the District Legal Aid Services
Authority, Jeypore, on Sunday in the premises of Educational Complex at Minarabali in Boipariguda block.
The camp was inaugurated by Jeypore Special Vigilance Court Magistrate Bhikari Charan Rout and
presided over by Legal Aid Services Registrar and Secretary RL Panda. “We have to create awareness
among the people, particularly the tribals, regarding their legal rights and it is proposed to hold legal
awareness camps at the grass-root level,” said Additional District Judge GC Panigrahi. Jeypore district
Sub-Judge PK Panigrahi, the district Additional Tehsildar and BDO of Boipariguda were among the others
who addressed the camp. “We thank the District Legal Aid authorities for taking the initiative to inform us
about our legal rights and making us aware of the different laws. We are proud that the judges, whom we
could have never seen except in courts, came to our doorsteps. We, being tribals, fear the judicial
department and police but we got an opportunity of interacting with them today,” said a tribal woman. The
camp was followed by a tribal folk dance that was performed by the students of the complex. The
programme ended with a vote of thanks by Swarnaprava Behera, the coordinator of the Institute. (Pioneer
4/10/07)


Ownership ‘pattas’ for forest dwellers likely, says Minister (6)
HYDERABAD: Tribal Welfare Minister D.S. Redya Naik said that the Government was considering
issuance of ownership ‘pattas’ to people, who had been tilling forest land for several decades once the
Scheduled Tribes, Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act comes into force. “Ownership for close to five
lakh acres of forest land can be given to tribals and non-tribals, who have been cultivating the forest lands
for years,” Mr. Redya Naik said at a press conference here on Wednesday. The State Government is
gearing up to bring legislation on the lines of the Central Act so that the land could be given to eligible
tribals and non-tribals, he observed. “The earlier legislations prevented Government from issuing pattas to
the tiller but the new Act will be a boon for the forest dwellers,” he said, adding that the Government was
hopeful that the State legislation would be ready by the year-end. Mr. Redya Naik said that to tackle the
land disputes in the agency area, 18 vacancies of forest settlement officers would be filled shortly. There
are 986 reserved forest blocks in which 12.34 lakh hectares forest land is under dispute. A survey is on to
identify such lands and make efforts to settle the disputes, he remarked. Highlighting the achievements of
the Remote and Interior Areas Development Department in the last three years, the Minister said Rs. 900
crore would be spent in the next two years to lay black-topped roads in the remote areas. He said the
RIAD covered 5,622 villages in 332 mandals in 18 districts of the State. The emphasis was on providing
infrastructure facilities in the rural areas. Besides this, employment opportunities for the educated tribals,
improvement in educational institutions, redressal of land disputes, laying of roads in all villages, provision
for safe drinking water and electrification of the villages was the priority under RIAD. Principal Secretary,
RIAD, A.K. Tigdi, was present. (The Hindu 4/10/07)


Land for tribals: court restrains Gujarat (6)
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday restrained the Gujarat government from issuing new “pattas” or
possession letters, vesting ownership rights over forest land in tribals. Those already given will be subject
to further orders. A “Forest Bench,” comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices Arijit Pasayat
and S.H. Kapadia, passed the order after amicus curiae Harish Salve (acting on a report published by
The􀀀Hindu on October 3) filed an application that ownership rights over forest land were handed over to
30 tribals by Chief Minister Narendra Modi on October 2. The Bench issued notice to the Gujarat
government seeking its response to the application. Quoting the report, Mr. Salve said the Central
Empowered Committee wrote to the State government in this regard. Possession letters were issued
without the Centre’s permission or clearance. The application said that similar documents in favour of
2,200 persons were to be despatched soon and the total forest land involved was reported to be over
34,000 hectares. The State government’s action would be in violation of the apex court orders. (The Hindu
6/10/07)


Tribals campaign for protecting wildlife (6)
Bhubaneswar: Here is a good news for the State Government and non-governmental organisations, which
have been incessantly organising a number of awareness programmes to raise the level of consciousness
among people on conserving forests and its ecosystem on the eve of Wildlife Week Celebrations, as the
people living inside two sanctuaries in the State actually made a unique beginning this year. Hundreds of
villagers residing inside the Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary in Nuapada district and Badrama Wildlife
Sanctuary in Sambalpur district celebrated Nuakhai, one of the most important festivals of western Orissa,
deep inside the forest and offered special pujas to the wild animals. Nuakhai is one of the occasions when
communities get together and celebrate the harvest in their respective houses and villages. “However, this
time we celebrated the festival inside the forest. We thought since we depend on forest resources for our
livelihood and wildlife is an integral part of the forest, people should realise their roles in conservation
efforts,” says secretary of Sunabeda Sangharsh Vahini, Duryodhan Majhi. People from six gram
panchayats such as Sunabeda, Soseng, Sialati, Kermeli, Bharuamunda, and Chulabhat congregated at
Kermeli to worship nature and symbolically observed Nuakhai, considering the forest and wildlife as their
family members. The celebration of Nuakhai was started in September and continued for one month
across western Orissa. Similarly, villagers depending on Badrama forest also assembled at Kureibahal
village and participated in the celebration. Elderly people talked about necessity of conserving forest and
wildlife for future. About 30,000 people living in the sanctuaries depend on the forest resources. Earlier
policies were centered on the principle of shifting the people in the fringe areas of forests had alienated
people from conservation, said Tushar Das, a researcher working with an NGO Vasundhara. “The gesture
on part of villagers is a good beginning. Integration of conservation models with the popular festivals would
go a long way in addressing conservation goals,” Mr. Das said. (The Hindu 6/10/07)



Cancel pattas given to tribals: SC to Modi (6)

NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 5: When gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi decided to throw the gauntlet at
the Central Government, he probably did not know that it was the Supreme Court that he was defying. In
his “civil disobedience movement” on Gandhi Jayanti, Modi handed over ownership rights of forest land to
30 tribals. He promised to dispatch documents to the remaining 2,204 encroachers soon. On Friday,
responding to an interim application filed by Amicus Curiae Harish Salve, the Supreme Court directed the
Gujarat Government to immediately cancel the pattas. They reminded the state that it would be a violation
of Supreme Court orders until the Government notifies the Tribal Act passed by Parliament in December
2006. The application said that there is a procedure laid down for state governments to request
regularisation of forest land by applying to the Ministry of Forests and Environment. States like Orissa and
Chhatisgarh have followed it in the past. Regularisation of encroachments is the biggest reason for
reduction in forest cover, it said. The matter was brought to the attention of the court by the Central
Empowered Committee (CEC), the Supreme-Court-appointed panel on forest-related issues. A day after
Modi’s public announcement, they had written a strongly-worded letter to the Gujarat Chief Secretary
asking him to cancel all the pattas and file an Action Taken Report at the earliest. They had also written to
the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests to conduct an ‘immediate inquiry” and issue
“directions” to cancel these allotments. They had pointed out that Modi’s largesse violates the Supreme
Court order of November 2001 that had granted stay against regularisation of the encroachments on
forest land prior to October 1980. In addition, the same writ petition had also stayed grants of land titles or
regularisation of encroachments till December 1993. “Both the above orders granting stay by the Supreme
Court are still continuing. In view of this, grant of titles of forest land to any person will be in violation of the
orders of the SC,” said the letter. On October 2, Modi claimed he had forwarded 3,355 applications of
tribals for approval under the 1980 Forest Act, but the Central Government failed to give its assent. In his
speech, the CM went on to claim that Gujarat was the only state which had handed over ownership rights
of over 34,000 hectares of forest land to 45,000 families. The Act in question, recognises the rights of
tribals over forest land which they have been occupying for generations. The Bill was passed by the
Parliament in December 2006 after sharp differences between the tribal activists on the one side and
wildlife enthusiasts on the other. Under pressure, the Centre is yet to notify the rules. (Indian Express
6/10/07)


Tribal chiefs in Meghalaya to honour Al Gore (6)
Shillong : The tribal chiefs in Meghalaya will honour five eminent Indians along with former US vice
president Al Gore for their extraordinary work in promoting global peace, democracy and environment at
the second People’s Parliament convened on Saturday. While Al Gore has been chosen as the recipient
of the global award for his highly acclaimed environmental documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ that
earned him three Academy Awards, the chiefs selected noted Gandhian and peace-maker Nirmala
Deshpande as one of the five prominent Indians for the national award. The other four recipients are
famed economist Arjun Sen Gupta, Major Ahluwalia, a war victim who has single-handedly built a top
hospital for the disabled, E Sreedharan, Chairman and Managing Director, Delhi Metro, Lok Sabha MP
Dinesh Trivedi of Trinamul Congress from West Bengal and Bhushan Raina, editor, Business Economics.
Besides the chiefs also will honour 13 State achievers, including Dr Milton Sangma, advisor of the Garo
Council of Nokma, renowned educationists and folk musician Helen Giri and Dr Balajied Sing Syiem, the
chief of Khyrim. The awards which include a citation and traditional gifts, said Robert Kharshiing, chairman
of the Rajya Sabha Grassroots Democracy Advisory Council. The second Peoples Parliament — Dorbar
Ri, as it is called by the Khasi tribe — has been convened to demand protection of the traditional
grassroots institutions and preservation of ancient environmental knowledge. “We are hosting the second
People’s Parliament at Mawphlang to draw the attention of the global community to this sacred forest site,
which has been protected and preserved by our ancestors for centuries,” said NK Lyngdoh, the chief of
the Mawphlang Elaka (traditional territory). “The sacred forest is the abode of the Ryngkew Basa (the
forest spirit), which is a treasure trove of rare plants, medicinal herbs and orchids,” he said. However, with
the changing climate, degradation of environment and globalisation, the rich greeneries and biodiversity
are facing threat of extinction. “We need to protect and preserve them for the posterity,” he said.Over
3,00,000 people, including traditional chiefs representing the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo tribes are expected
to attend this unique people’s conclave near an ancient sacred grove at Mawphlang, about 20 km from
Shillong, Lyngdoh said. he chiefs will also observe two minutes silence in memory of the Buddhists monks
who died in the ongoing movement for democracy in Burma. The day coincides with the observance of the
Global Day of Action for Free Burma.(Pioneer 6/10/07)


M.P. to give ‘pattas’ to tribals (6)
BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has said that “pattas” (land ownership
rights) would be given to the tribals occupying forest land keeping December 13, 2005, as the cut-off date.
The Central Government is framing rules for this purpose, he said, adding that in case the rules are not
finalised within a month, the Madhya Pradesh government would start distributing pattas. Addressing a
function organised as part of Janadesh-2007 Satyagraha Padyatra organised by Ekta Parishad here over
the weekend, the Chief Minister announced open support to any non-violent movement in the interest of
the common people. The Chief Minister said influential persons illegally occupying forest land allotted to
the tribals would be evicted and possession of land would be given to the rightful owners. He said
Janadesh was enhancing awareness and educating the poor about their rights. (The Hindu 7/10/07)


Communal tension in Kandhamal (6)
BERHAMPUR: Tension mounts up in Kandhamal district as Kui tribals are continuing their public
meetings and awareness campaign among tribals against the Pana harijans of the district. Three Kui tribal
organisations of the district — Nikhil Utkal Kui Samaj of G. Udaygiri, Kui Kula Samiti of Baliguda and Kui
Samaj Seva Samiti — have joined hands to form Kandhmal Zilla Kui Samaj coordination committee. They
are opposed to recent demand by a section of Pana harijans to be identified as Kui tribals in official
records as they speak Kui language and obey some tribal rituals. The recent tension started due to
activities of an NGO named Phulbani Kui Jankalyan Sangh of Bhubaneswar which has approached Orissa
high court with the demand that Panas of Kandhamal should be treated as tribals. The secretary of the
coordination committee, Lambodar Kanhar, has alleged that State Minister Padmanabh Behera is behind
the effort. According to Mr. Kanhar, the committee has already sent letters to the State Government
demanding removal of Mr. Behera from the Cabinet as he is involved in fanning communal tension for
political gains. Since last month the coordination committee of Kui tribals has held a series of meetings in
different parts, where they have openly come out against Mr. Behera. (The Hindu 9/10/07)


Social activists to meet Sonia (6)
NEW DELHI: Led by Magsaysay Award winner Aruna Roy, a delegation of social activists will meet United
Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi on land-for-landless issue. In this regard, they will remind
her on Monday about the importance of land redistribution legislation as pledged for in the National
Common Minimum Programme. Working on the premise that the country will not achieve a structural end
to rural poverty without land reforms, including redistributive measures, and security of tenure and
ownership, the delegation will also submit a draft National Land Reform Policy prepared by the Ekta
Parishad for the government’s perusal. A copy of the draft policy has already been submitted to the Prime
Minister’s Office. The meeting with Ms. Gandhi takes place in the backdrop of a people’s march to Delhi
that began from Gwalior on Gandhi Jayanti. Landless people and tribals from a dozen States are
scheduled to reach the Capital by October 28 after walking 350 km to up the demand for land
redistribution legislation. The draft policy submitted to the PMO envisages a scenario where land reforms
become central to public policy measures of all state governments. Some salient features of the policy
suggested by the Ekta Parishad include reduced statutory ceilings on agricultural land holdings in the light
of enhanced land productivity, particularly where assured irrigation is available; strict enforcement of
ceiling laws by plugging all loopholes, including benami transactions; and an end to exemptions on land
given to religious, charitable, educational and industrial organisations/units. Also, according to the social
activists, government revenue land should be allotted to the landless poor with highest priority to those
belonging to the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes who constitute the largest number of landless
agricultural labour; and women’s rights of inheritance to agricultural and homestead lands ensured.
Besides, single woman-headed households and SCs/STs should be given “tree pattas” over
non-cultivable and forest wastelands. (The Hindu 15/10/07)


Kui tribals up in arms in Kandhamal district (6)
BERHAMPUR: Despite promises from the Chief Minister and officials, Kui tribals of Kandhamal district are
continuing their agitation, seeking action against persons who instigated dalits of the district to categorise
them as tribals. On Sunday, the district Kui Samaj Coordination Committee organised a tribals’ meeting on
the issue at Sarangada of Nuapada block. On Saturday, a similar meeting was organised at Linepada of
the Chakapada block. The meetings were part of a series being organised since last month to mobilise
tribals throughout the district. The tribals met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday in Bhubaneswar
with a list of four demands. The Chief Minister promised them to look into the demands and urged them to
maintain peace. He also added that no non-tribal would be identified as tribal in the district. But the tribal
leaders demanded the resignation of State Minister Padmanabh Behera, action against an NGO of
Bhubaneswar, and action against MP R.K. Nayak. Recently, there was tension following a petition filed by
an NGO of Bhubaneswar Phulbani Kui Jankalyan Sangh in the Orissa High Court with a plea to identify
Pana dalits of Kandhanmal district as Kui tribals in the official records as they speak Kui and perform
some tribal rituals. The Kandhamal district Kui Samaj Coordination Committee alleged that Mr. Behera
and Mr. Nayak were behind the attempt. Lambodar Kanhar, secretary of the committee, said that the
attempt of vested interests would have led to violent clashes between the two communities in Kandhamal
district like what happened in 1994. “So, we want strict action against these persons,” he said. Recently,
State Revenue Secretary G.V. Sharma and State Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Development
Commissioner Tara Dutt visited the district to bring the situation under control. They said that the there
was no effort by any agency to declare Pana dalits of the district as tribals. (The Hindu 15/10/07)


Tribal farmers in Andhra to get forest land (6)
Hyderabad : Scheduled tribe farmers in Andhra Pradesh would be given about one million hectares of
forestland under a special law, State Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy announced today. The land
will be distributed to the Schedule Tribe farmers under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest
Dwellers (Reorganisation of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Reviewing the tribal welfare measures being taken
up in the State with Special Secretary here, Reddy said the rules for this purpose are being formulated
and forestland would be brought under cultivation in a phased manner as this process of conversion of
land to cultivable takes time. A large number of tribal families were dependent on agriculture and
land-based activities, he said, adding his Government had initiated various programmes for development
of Schedule Tribe farmers like distribution of land. Of the total tribal population in Andhra Pradesh, 43.21
percent are cultivators, 43.72 per cent agricultural labourers and the remaining 13.07 per cent in different
occupations. In the last three years, 30,262 acres of government land had been assigned to 16,127
Schedule Tribe farmers in the state, Chief Minister said. The CM also said that his Government was also
committed to improving the lot of Schedule Castes, Backward Castes and other weaker sections by way
of land distribution and development schemes so that they come at par with the society. (Pioneer
15/10/07)


Over 2.79 lakh tribal girls benefit from Govt scheme (6)
Bhopal : More than 2.79 lakh tribal girls have benefited from the literacy scheme launched for promoting
education among tribal students. The State Government has spent nearly Rs 20.25 crore for implementing
the scheme. In accordance with the scheme, 2,10,633 girls of Class VI and 68,666 girls of Class IX and XI
have been benefited. Besides, scholarship of Rs 500 to Class VI girls , Rs 1,000 to Class IX girls, Rs
2,000 to Class XI girls are given under this scheme. During the last few years a lot girls were given
scholarship under this scheme. As in the year 2003-04, 45,000 girls of Class VIII were given scholarship
of Rs 1 crore 95 lakh and 8 thousand. In the year 2004-05, 50,546 girls were provided with scholarship of
Rs 2 crore 47 lakh and 93 thousand. (Pioneer 17/10/07)


Delay in notifying Forest Act annoying people: Raja (6)
New Delhi : Urging the Centre to immediately notify the Forest Act, CPI leader D Raja on Wednesday
alleged it was being held up by some ‘vested’ interests for the last 10 months since its rules were drafted.
“The continued failure of the Government to notify the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest
Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 is a betrayal of the people,” Raja, national Secretary of
CPI said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Alleging that ‘vested’ interests have been trying to
undermine the Act to the extent that amendments were later made to weaken it, the Left leader said, “the
delay in notifying it was causing unrest among people facing repression and brutal violence in various
parts of the country”. (Pioneer 18/10/07)


Cong poll plank hit as Law Ministry delays Tribal Act (6)
NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 18: The Union Law Ministry has put a dampener on the Congress party’s plan to
cash in on the Tribal Act that recognised Adivasis’ rights over forest land in the forthcoming Assembly
elections in Gujarat. Official sources said though the draft rules to implement the Scheduled Tribes and
Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, had been sent to the Law
Ministry over two weeks back, those concerned continued to sit over it despite repeated reminders from
the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. Tribal Affairs Minister P R Kyndiah was learnt to have telephoned Law
Minister HR Bhardwaj to expedite the process given the “political sensitivity” of the issue. The Law
Ministry, however, expressed helplessness as it was tied up with too many urgent matters, said sources.
According to sources, the Law Ministry was likely to clear the rules early next week, but the final
notification would take at least ten days because it would have to be translated into Hindi. The notification
would not violate the model code of conduct in the state as the Act was for the entire country, argued
officials. Meanwhile, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi tried to be one up on the Congress, giving
pattas to 30 tribals on Gandhi Jayanti day. He promised to dispatch the documents to the remaining
encroachers soon. The Supreme Court subsequently directed the State Government to cancel the pattas
because they were illegal in the absence of the notification of the Act by the Centre. But, with his “brazen
act” Modi had managed to snatch the initiative from the Congress, conceded Congressmen adding that
the Centre’s delay in notifying the rules and the Act could create confusion among illiterate tribals about
the authorship of the Act that gave them ownership rights over forestland. “By the time the Centre notifies
the Act, we will not have enough time to translate it into votes,” said a senior Congress leader from
Gujarat. After the Act was passed in Parliament last December, Congress leaders like Sabarkantha MP
Madhusudan Mistry had started distributing application forms among tribals in Gujarat to claim their right
on forest land. The filled forms were obtained with the promise that once the Act was notified, tribals would
get ownership rights. The undue delay, which was exploited by Modi, has taken the sting out of the
Congress campaign. Scheduled Tribes play a decisive role in electing one-fourth of the 182-member state
Assembly. Of the total, 26 seats are reserved for STs. Tribals and OBCs together dominate 21 other
seats, said a Congress source. Of the 25 revenue districts, 11 are dominated by tribals. (Indian Express
19/10/07)


Orchids a major source of income for tribals during Dussehra (6)
Bhubaneswar : The Koraput valley, known for its dense forests and is also a haven to a number of orchids
are a major source of income for the tribals during the Dussehra celebrations. The tribals venture into the
forests during the wee hours in the morning to pluck the flowers in order to deck their goddesses in
garlands made of them. The flowers, which are locally called Kunda, Bati, Manda, Maricha Mandar are
used to prepare these beautiful garlands. The flowers are weaved onto creepers with a few leaves in order
to make the garland more decorative. On being asked the reason behind their interest in selling flowers,
pat comes the reply, Jatara dekha and phool bika, which means “We want to see the festival, the goddess
and serve her with flowers while earning some money to spend during the fest.” Selling flowers and
making garlands is a job done exclusively by the women-folk of the community. Hundreds of women with
head-loads of flower trek miles to reach the palace town of Jeypore for selling them. The competition may
be neck-to-neck, but they say it is the pleasure that drives them to the palace gate. The tribal communities
from Bhumia, Paraja, Mali and Gouda are seen mostly on the jobs; selling these flowers to a variety of
customers ranging from devotees to shopkeepers, vehicle owners to commercial complexes who
decorate their premises during Dussehra. (Pioneer 23/10/07)


Tribal Act rules to be notified next week (6)
New Delhi, October 25: The UPA Government is set to notify rules to implement the Scheduled Tribes and
Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 early next week. The Law
Ministry, which had sent the draft rules to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs early this week, is learnt to have got
a green signal from the latter. “We are in the process of translating the rules in Hindi now. They are likely
to be completed early next week,” said ministry sources. The notification was earlier being delayed under
pressure from the wildlife lobby supported by a section of the Congress, who argued that giving pattas to
tribals and other occupants of the forests before relocating them would have serious implication for
national parks and sanctuaries. Law Ministry officials, however, noted that there were provisions in the Act
to notify “inviolate” areas for wildlife conservation. Ministry of Environment & Forests has to do it after
consultations with an expert committee. “Since the Act itself provides for Critical Wildlife Habitats, there
was no need to incorporate them in the rules. Wherever the Act is explicit, the rules remain silent,” said
officials, adding that rules were “ready for notification” and the Congress leadership had to take a call now.
Congress sources said Sonia Gandhi had given a go ahead to Minister for Tribal Affairs P R Kyndiah
when he sought her opinion recently about notifying the rules. Tribal Affairs Ministry concurred with the
Ministry of Environment & Forests that tribals staying in national parks and sanctuaries should “not be
touched” until steps for their relocation and rehabilitation were in place. (Indian Express 26/10/07)


NHRC worried for tribal workers (6)
New Delhi, Oct. 23: The National Human Rights Commission has expressed deep concern at the death of
tribals from Madhya Pradesh who worked as labourers in the quartz crushing factories in Godhra due to
silicosis. The commission, taking cognisance of reports that about 200 tribals have died in the quartz
factories of Godhra and Balasinor in Gujarat due to silicosis, has sent notices to the state governments of
both Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, according to a release from the NHRC here on Tuesday. As per the
news report, the tribals were exposed to silica dust and no protection was given to them at their work
place. The report said about 200 tribals have died in the last four years and the labourers who returned to
their villages in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh and died of silicotuberculosis there were not getting any
compensation. After going through the report, the commission directed that the same be forwarded to the
chief secretaries of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh and also to the district collectors of Panchamahal and
Jhabua for a factual report within four weeks. (Asian Age 26/10/07)


GUJJAR AGITATION
Meenas launch move against Gujjar stir (6)
Jaipur : With the stage set for Jail Bharo agitation by Gujjars from October 2 to get Scheduled Tribe
status, Meenas, the largest ST community in the State, on Sunday launched a counter move to oppose
the demands of Gujjars. A Meena Mahapanchayat was held under the banner of Jan Jati Arkshan Bachao
Samiti at Naryani in Alwar on Sunday. The response to the Mahapnachayat was considerably good. The
speaker at the Mahapanchayat pledged that they would not allow the Gujjars to be included in ST, as they
did not deserve this status. Another Meena Conference is being organised by the Rajasthan Adivasi
Parishad on Monday, which would be addressed by Union Minister of State for Environment Namoranyan
Meena and some other prominent leaders of the community. Raghuvir Meena, a Congress MLA and
president of the parishad (council), claimed that many BJP leaders of Meena community would also attend
the conference. On Saturday, Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria raised the issue of giving ST status to
the Gujjars in the meeting of Rashtriya Ekta Parishad in Delhi. He said that since this demand was not
being raised only in Rajasthan but in many other States, this should be included in the agenda for the next
meeting of the parishad. Meanwhile, the ruling BJP leaders are trying to peruse leaders of the Gujjar
Sangharash Samiti (GSS) to postpone its proposed Jail Bharo agitation as the Government was sincerely
looking into their demands. Last evening State BJP president Mahesh Sharma had a long meeting with
Col Kirori Singh Bainsala, president of GSS. Some other Gujjar leaders were also present in this meeting.
But the Gujjar leaders refused to budge from their stand and insisted that the agitation would continue till
the State Government recommended their case to the Centre. These efforts continued till late on Sunday
evening but could not yield much results. Meanwhile, elaborate police and administrative arrangements
have been made to tackle the Gujjar agitation. The GSS has announced that in the first phase they would
court arrests at five division headquarters. At least five lakh people would participate in this leg of the
agitation. About 40 companies of police have been deployment in about 12 districts. A number of
Magistrates have also been appointed in these districts. Since there is not much accommodation available
in the State jails, the Government had notified some schools and other Government buildings as jails,
where arrested agitators would be kept. The Government has requisitioned a large number of State
Roadways and private buses to transport the agitators to the jails. But the private bus operators on
Sunday resorted to a strike to oppose the requisition of the their buses for the purpose. (Pioneer 1/10/07)


“Wrong policies behind caste unrest” (6)
JAIPUR: Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot has expressed concern over the growing discord
among caste groups in Rajasthan in the wake of the Gujjar community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe
status. He blamed the “wrong” policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the State for the
caste unrest. Speaking to newspersons here on the eve of the Gujjar community’s “jail bharo” (fill the jails)
agitation to be held in the five divisional headquarter towns of the State on Gandhi Jayanti, Mr. Gehlot said
the “false promises” made by the BJP to Gujjars during the Assembly elections had led to the present
predicament in which the community was out on the streets. “Every community or group has a right under
the Constitution to put forth its demand in a peaceful manner,” Mr. Gehlot said referring to the agitation.
“However, the present tension is also due to the government trying to play up one community against the
other,” he said referring the Gujjar-Meena stand-off on the ST status to the former. “I hope everyone
would keep it in mind that tomorrow is Gandhi Jayanti,” he observed. The State Government, grappling
with the agitations had very little time to provide any governance here during the past two years, Mr.
Gehlot said. “The Chief Minister, busy handling protests and agitations and dissidence within her party, is
left with no time to give any time for governance,” he charged. Referring to the recent changes in the
Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee (RPCC), Mr. Gehlot said the appointments were not on the
basis of caste. “PCC changes are a regular process and the leadership is not decided on caste lines,” he
said. He hoped that the new State president, C.P. Joshi, would bring together all sections of people.
Volunteering to comment on the charges from certain caste leaders that he was against the Jat
community, Mr. Gehlot said he never practised caste politics. Dr. Joshi’s appointment had come, as a
disappointment to a section of Jats as Harendra Mirdha, son of veteran Congress leader Ram Niwas
Mirdha, too was one of the contenders. (The Hindu 2/10/07)


No more talks, Gurjjars set out to court arrest (6)
JAIPUR, OCTOBER 1: Shouting slogans of “jail bharo”, thousands of Gurjjars across Rajasthan are
marching towards their destinations where they will court arrest on Tuesday. With the Justice Chopra
Committee, failing to submit its report within three months, Gurjjars announced that more than two lakh
members from the community would court arrests on October 2, Gandhi Jayanti. The committee was
formed by the Raje Government to look into the Gurjjars’s demand for tribal status. “The mood is upbeat
and our determination is strong. No one here is ready for talks. We are all eager to get arrested and mark
our protest. It does not matter how long we have to stay behind bars, we want reservation,” said Gurjjar
leader Roop Singh. Meanwhile, Gurjjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla refused to go to Jaipur for talks with the
Rajasthan Government and will court arrest at Rajsamand. Dausa MP Sachin Pilot is expected to court
arrest in Jaipur. “We begin this movement in Rajasthan but if we do not get reservation within the next four
days, the movement will spread to the rest of the country, as Gujjars from others states will also court
arrests,” said Pilot. Members of the community will court arrests at Jaipur, Bharatpur, Kota, Rajsamand,
and Ajmer. As many as 259 make-shift jails have been constructed across the state and at certain places,
temporary jails have been constructed on a playgrounds. The Chief Minister has directed her ministers
and MLAs to monitor the arrangements made by the district and police departments, said sources. Police
and administrative officials have been deployed in sensitive areas of the state and Section 144 has been
imposed in 18 districts of the state. Gurjjars courting arrests would be treated like prisoners and they will
be arrested under Section 151 of the IPC, added sources. “We have been asked to maintain a record of
details, thumb impressions and photographs of those arrested. The prisoners will not be allowed to carry
any of their belongings and will be given food served in jails. They will be allowed to meet visitors once in
seven days,” said a senior administrator (Indian Express 2/10/07)


Gujjars court arrest over quota (6)
Jaipur, Oct. 2: Thousands of Gujjars demanding Scheduled Tribe status for their community courted
arrest in Rajasthan on Tuesday. The Gujjars protested in several cities across Rajasthan and offered
themselves for arrest. Police sources said over 70,000 Gujjars come out to protest. Meanwhile, tribal
leaders from all over India blamed politics for the movement. Shouting slogans, the Gujjars took out
processions in Kota, Ajmer, Bharatpur, Rajsamand, Jaipur and Pali amid heavy security. “We came here
to get ST status, our womenfolk will resume the agitation from October 11,” said Dr Vikram Singh, a
Gujjar leader. Those who arrested included Congress MP Sachin Pilot and rebel BJP MLAs Prahald
Gunjal and Attar Singh Bhadana. “AT least 65,000 people came to protest and half of them offered
themselves for arrest. We are making lists. We are making lists of those willing to stay in jail,” said state
home minister Gulabchand Kataria. But the Gujjar leaders quoted higher numbers of protesters. The
government shifted Gujjars to 250 temporary jails in the state. The police also hired a large number of
vehicles to carry the arrested Gujjars. “No untoward incident has been reported so far,” said Mr Kataria.
“They should wait for the Chopra Commission’s report, it is difficult to recommend Gujjars for ST status
without the commission’s report,” the home minister said. (Asian Age 3/10/07)


Gujjar stir losing steam as top leaders are in jail (6)
Jaipur : The three-day-long Jail Bharo agitation by Gujjars on Thursday appeared to be slowly losing its
steam as only a few hundred came forward to court arrest on Thursday. The leaders of Gujjar Sangharash
Samiti (GSS) had on Wednesday announced that it would gherao Government officials at the tehsil
headquarters in protest against the alleged maltreatment meted out to the arrested Gujjars. Reports
reaching here suggest that only at a few places the agitators reached the Government offices and left
after submitting a memorandum. Reports also said that some agitators tried to block the National Highway
at Sikandara and Mahua in Dausa. They pelted stones at passing buses. Meanwhile, Chief Minister
Vasundhara Raje reviewed the situation and said the agitation was loosing its steam. But at the same time
she cautioned the district administrations to remain alert. (Pioneer 5/10/07)


Raje Govt. can’t handle Gujjar issue: CPI(M) (6)
JAIPUR: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has expressed concern over the internal situation in
Rajasthan in the wake of the Gujjar community’s agitation for classification as a Scheduled Tribe. The
BJP-led Government seemingly is not in a position to handle the situation even when the issue itself was
the party’s own creation, it said. “Communal and casteist forces have created an unprecedented situation
in Rajasthan in which the people are feeling insecure,” said Hannan Mollah, MP in charge of the party’s
Rajasthan affairs, after a meeting of the CPI (M) State Committee here on Friday. “The BJP only
instigated the Gujjars and now they are finding it difficult to manage the situation. Some Congress leaders
from the Gujjar community joining the issue has only aggravated the situation further,” he said. “The
prevailing atmosphere in the State is such that even small personal quarrels can turn into a communal
flare-up,” Mr. Mollah said referring to the recent violence in Shastri Nagar area of Jaipur. “This is due to
the spread of mutual distrust and lack of harmony. The atmosphere remains surcharged,” he noted. The
State Committee also termed the Rajasthan Police Act, 2007, cleared by the State Assembly in
September, an anti-people law. Mr. Mollah said the Government had a corrupt image with eight to nine
Ministers facing corruption charges. “A good number of MLAs are also found to be taking money for
getting transfers of teachers and other State Government employees,” he charged (The Hindu 6/10/07)


Gujjars damage tracks, disrupt railway traffic (6)
Jaipur, Oct. 7: Agitating Gujjars on Sunday disrupted rail traffic on the Delhi-Mumbai route by damaging
tracks near Bayana under Bharatpur district. Senior police and railway officials rushed to the spot. The
mob removed fish plates and damaged tracks, said a senior Railway Protection officer. According to
railway sources, a mob of 2,000 Gujjars gathered near the Fatehsinghpura railway station and removed
fish plates. This resulted in the disruption of trains. “We are trying to push the crowds away to pave way
for the restoration of rail tracks,” says Mr M.C. Deshmukh, a railway police officer. The Gujjars also
blocked roads in the area. (Asian Age 8/10/07)

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Group Life Insurance helps tribals

Posted by samathain on August 25, 2008

 


Dalit groups should get more people enrolled in these group insurance schemes so that people get the benefits. Spread the message.


 
[ Jharkhand yahoo group]

Tribals enjoy the fruits of a life insured (6)

BERHAMPUR : Tribals, especially their women folk in remote areas of Gajapati district

have started to experience benefits of group insurance schemes. Balaji Sabar of

Badamasingi village of Kainpur panchayat under Rayagada block had never expected

his wife would help him financially even after her death. Balaji has received Rs.20,000

as death claim following the death of his wife, who had got enrolled in the Janashree

Bima Yojana of the Life Insurance Corporation. It is again the women Self Help Groups

(SHG) in tribal villages that have taken the lead. In Rayagada block 968 members of 80

women SHGs have enrolled their names in the `Janashree Bima Yojana’ scheme

paying yearly premium of Rs.100 for each member since 2004. As members of this

group insurance scheme these women are also getting extra benefit of the `Sikshya

Sahyog Yojana’ that is part and parcel of their group insurance scheme. Under this

scheme children of policy holders reading from class ninth to +2 get a scholarship of

RS.100 per month. Rambhi Guru of Gandahati village, whose son is reading in class X

is benefiting from it feels it is a great help for her son to pursue studies. “I was

overwhelmed when I came to know Rs.100 rupees invested by me would beget

Rs.1,200 per year for my son’s education,” she said. D. Jagannath Raju, president of

an NGO, Society for Welfare of Weaker Section (SWWS), which had motivated the

women SHGs to opt for group insurance schemes said women especially in tribal areas

are the real homemakers. Once they start understanding the benefits of a scheme it

easily percolates through to the general public. (The Hindu 28/2/07)

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Adivasi Issues – (Archived)

Posted by samathain on August 15, 2008

[Samatha Link-Adivasi Issues]

Mining To Destruction And Hijacking Their Rights To Submission

Mining To Destruction And Hijacking Their Rights To Submission

By Goldy M. George

28 February, 2004
www.countercurrents.org

Mining industry is an industry where large scale environmental degradation and humanrights violation takes place in full view of the public eye. But the persons involved in these crimes get away quite easily. Here is an enquiry into the whos and whys of this problem.

Refutation of Rights:

Refutation of the rights is characteristically multidimensional – one is the denial of the eligible rights of the people in mining zones, another is the flouting of law by the State machinery and third is the rights of the mineworkers. Looking at the aspect of denial of rights, certain constitutional provisions are also not taken care while executing the project. Apart from this, there are some other laws with specific provisions in terms of land acquisition, right on common property like water, forests, etc. provisions preventing any sort of mining activity within the Scheduled Area and so on. In most of the places such violations have become a common routine. Labour laws are never practices for the mineworkers. In almost all the places these mines are recruiting contract labourers.

Some of the commonly violated norms of the Constitution of India such as fundamental rights and Directive Principles of State Policy are noted below.

Constitutional Rights:

Fundamental Rights:
Article 19
(i), (e) – Right to settle in any part of the country.
(o), (g) – Right to practice any profession.
(i), (f) – Right to acquire, preserve and transfer the property.
Article 21 – Right to live and livelihood.
Directive Principles of State Policy:
Article 38 – Assures the protection of the social order and promotion of welfare of the people.
Article 39 (a) – Right to earn a dignified livelihood.
Article 39 (b) – The State shall in particular direct its policy towards securing – that the ownership and control of the material resource of the community are so distributed as best to sub-serve the common good; that the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of the wealth and means of production to the common detriment.
Article 46 – The State shall promote….the Scheduled Caste and the Schedule Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
Article 47 – Duty of the state to develop the standard of living of the people.
Article 48 – To protect agriculture and animal resource.
Article 51 A (g), (i) – It is the fundamental duty of every citizen of India – to protect the natural environment including forest, lakes, river and wild life.

Mining in forest areas grossly violates major provisions under the National Forest Policy 1988 such as Sections 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 3.4, 3.5, 4.3, 4.4, 4.6, and 4.9. Similarly in Scheduled Areas all provisions with regards to the Scheduled Area Act as well as the provisions under the Panchayat Raj Act are clearly violated. In Section 4 (a) it clearly states, “a state legislation on the panchayats that may be made shall be in consonance with the customary law, social, and religious practices and traditional management practices of community resource”. Further Section 4 (b) says, “every gram sahbha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and the customary mode of dispute resolution” . The Scheduled Area Act or the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Area Act (PESA) is one powerful weapon in fighting unjust mining. The whole of Samatha judgement is based on this Act itself. However it will depend
upon the fact whether it is a forest area or an Adivasi belt to make use of such provisions. Gross irregularity and corruption in granting the mining lease are involved. Displacement and migration, socio-cultural and environmental impact of mining, have increased the gap between the rich and poor even in rural areas.

Though the inception of planned economic development in India brought in a lot of infrastructure projects, they have displaced a number of people yet there is absence of a national displacement and rehabilitation policy. Neither in the national level nor in the State level there exist any specific legislation for rehabilitation of the project oustees. Hence there is difficulty in claiming rehabilitation as a matter of constitutional right of the citizens once they are displaced. Although in some states like Orissa there are certain policies, it stands against people’s aspiration. In fact this very policy undermines the possibility of Adivais rights in many ways.

In certain states there are specific provisions holding back transfer of Adivasi land to non-Adivasis. For example 170-B of the M.P. Land Revenue Code in Madhya Pradesh. But again this is not a national policy barring transfer of Adivasi land to non-Adivasis. In addition to this land could be taken away from people as a part of land acquisition in the name of National Development.

Arising Questions:

First is the exploitation of non-renewable resources. Mining and production is basically opposite to the man-production relationship. It is not only extracting the huge deposits of rich minerals, but also further widens the gap of any possibility of restoration of it. This at large disturbs eco-system and erupts major ecological problems, which threatens the life of the mother earth to unpredictable magnitude. In other words life on earth will be at stake if the present trends of mining continues.

Second is the development-induced displacement. Large number of communities and village are being displaced due to intensive mining. In Bhilai itself more than 50000 people were ousted, whose whereabouts are still unknown. Rest of Chhattisgarh has displaced nearly a million for industrial purpose. Displacement is not just discarding them from their land and livelihood, but at large pushing them into abject poverty and socio political problems like bonded labourers, child labours, prostitution, etc. This is the kind of development for which we cast our kudos and eulogy.

Third is mining and labour. Retrenchment of labours is highly escalating. With the loss of livelihood, the local people are reduced increasingly or compelled to work as labourers, Another reason for this is the immigration of employees, who are appointed on high posts with perks. This further reduces the job opportunity of the local populace. Moreover paucity of adequate education and advanced technical knowledge they are prevented from job opportunities. Mechanisation of industries is increasingly expanding and cut-down the possibility of employment. Labourers are not even paid the minimum wages affixed by the Government, nor they are provided with any of the facilities.

In 1984, in Bhilai Steel Plant, 96,000 workers were employed. By 1992 it was reduced to 55000 workers. Current there are only 38000 workers. The production has tripled but the number of workers has fallen. One of the retired Managing Directors had once said that BSP could go full swing with just 6000 workers. They have such a plan, which includes massive mechanisation and automation. There is a cement factory run by Ambuja (formerly is was Modi), which has the largest production capacity in Asia. Its total capacity is 10.46 lakh tonnes. But to produce that, they have engaged only 300 workers. Twenty-six years ago Tata had put up a cement factory in Jamul. In 1992 it had the production capacity of 4 lakh tonnes and the number of workers were 1800. The mechanisation goes to such an extent that in future it may need only two or three workers to run the plan. The prophets of industrialisation talks about prosperity and creation of jobs, but what is actually happening is shocking.

Mechanisation & Workers:

Dalli-Rajhara is an iron ore-mining town. It meets the total iron ore requirements of the Bhilai Steel Plant. In Dalli-Rajhara, the Rajhara mechanised mine has been running since 1958. The preparations for mechanising the Dalli mine began in 1977. By 1978 the situation of mechanisation became even more clear and lucid, when at deposit no. 5 in Bailadila mines, 10000 labourers were rendered jobless at one stroke. All resistance was crushed. 10000 huts were burnt down, numerous women raped, and labourers fired upon. The orgy of mechanisation forced 10000 labourers to face the desperation of hunger. The fact that the machinery in question was produced in Russia and was therefore socialistic, progressive machinery – however it did not mitigate the grim fate of these labourers.

In the 1980’s, the government sought imports of technology in the coal sector to encourage foreign collaborators to implement the projects on a turnkey basis. With guarantees against time and cost over-runs, the government entered into a long-term agreement for Soviet “technical assistance” in the coal sector until the year 2000. The USSR was to collaborate in the development of fifteen coal-mining projects, five open cast mines and ten underground mines from the stage of preparation of the feasibility report till the mining stage. The foreign exchange component to cover the cost of equipment and services would be covered with Soviet soft loans and long-term credit.

The Government also sought collaboration with Poland, U.K., France, West Germany, East Germany, Canada and Australia for projects till the mining stage. These collaborations were strictly technical and only up till the mining stages. The ownership of the mines and their running would still be with the PSU.

Such technology imports were criticised by sections of the press in India as ‘importing obsolete’ and ‘creating a relationship of dependent exploitation’. The aim of these changes was to increase output per worker shift. Coal India Ltd. (CIL) a PSU accumulated losses at the end of 1986-87 to the tune of Rs. 1,800 crores. It was hoped that these steps would reverse the trend.

Up till the 80s whatever mechanisation has taken place was primarily due to some special binding agreement with another country. The countries selling the machinery first develop the respective machinery and when they are unable to sell it through ordinary channels, they cast their eyes on the developing nations under the guise of technology up-gradation or some other pretext. However today it is carried out as a part of the Structural Adjustment so that less input may provide more output. Even retrenchment of workers is a part of this larger agenda.

The dumping of obsolete machinery and technology in the third world, especially in India, is destabilising the very economy. Only an economic policy based on self-reliance can strengthen our economy. The deployment of machinery should be undertaken only when it is keeping with the economic, social and cultural needs of the specific locality and country.

Another critical issue related with mechanisation is that of contract labour. Industrial development and contract labour system co-exist in the country like twin brothers. Contract labour system is diametrically opposite to any intension of scientific mining.

Mining and the Question of Land – The Case Study of Chhattisgarh:
Chhattisgarh is the richest State in terms of mineral wealth, with 28 varieties of major minerals. Chhattisgarh, along with two other Indian States has almost all the coal deposits in India, and with this the state is moving towards the ‘power hub’ strategy. All the tin ore in India is in Chhattisgarh. A fifth of iron ore in the country is here, and one of the best quality iron ore deposits in the world is found in the Bailadila mines in south Chhattisgarh, from where it is exported to Japan. Rich deposits of Bauxite, Limestone, Dolomite and Corundum are found in the State. The State is lucky to have large deposits of coal, iron ore and limestone in close proximity, making it the ideal location for the lowest cost of production.

All doors for private participation in the mining sector are widely open in Chhattisgarh. The State’s Mineral Policy, 2001 has created a conducive business environment to attract private investment in the State, both domestic and international. Procedures have been simplified. At the same time the state is willing to provide resources and manpower having trained in tailor-made programs in geology, geophysics, geochemistry, mineral beneficiation, mining engineering, etc.

The State is ensuring a minimum lease area with secured land rights so that investors can safely commit large resources to mining projects. For surmounting the long-drawn out process of getting mineral-related leases, at the State level, quick processing of applications is given top priority. For major minerals under the Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, where approvals are required from Government of India, the State Government is helping in strong advocacy to get such approvals quickly.

Sarguja, Raigarh and Bilaspur districts are the coal zones in Chhattisgarh. It is estimated that more than 72 thousand acres of land have leased out to SECL for coal mining, by which hundreds of villages have already been affected. Bastar and Durg districts have some of the rare quality of steel in the world. Nearly 20 thousand acres of land have been occupied for mining steel in Bailadeela and Dalli Rajhara area of these districts.

Heavy deposits of limestone are also found in Chhattisgarh region. In an area of three districts itself, i.e. Raipur, Durg and Bilaspur, there are 10 big factories of all big industrial houses and with many more small ones and its auxiliary units. Most of these have been established in the last 15-18 years. Huge diamond deposits in Devbhog (Raipur) and Bastar are also in the eyes of the MNCs.

In all for cement industry 2990 acres, 14530 acres for rice mills, 7665 acres for steel industry, for ferry alloys 940 acres and 285 acres for re-rolling mills have been already acquired in the area. Apart from these 18652.377 acres of lands has been rendered on lease for other mining purpose. Therefore land acquisition followed by the adverse impact on the people is a major issue in Chhattisgarh.

There is a cement factory run by Ambuja group (formerly by Modi group), which has the largest production capacity in Asia. Its total capacity was 10.46 lakhs in 1992. But to produce that they have engaged only 300 workers. 24 years ago Tata had put up a cement factory in Jamul near Bhilai. It had a production capacity of 4 lakh tons and the number of workers are 1800.

So far the people are concerned the situation is grim. They are pushed beyond the margins and the space is further withering. Hence it is the right time to go ahead with a wider campaign program with a long-term agenda. Although some groups have been fighting against this issue, a wider and consolidated effort is what is lacking. Therefore there is the urgency of building common agenda of all mining groups in this area. Further if such efforts are brought together the potential of a systematic and strategic anti-Mining struggle is immense.

This is essential since most of the people who are affected are Adivasis, Dalits and other marginalized communities. Usurpation of thousands of acres of land is a usual phenomenon of all mining and industrialisation process. Women are the most pretentious in this process, as they bear triple burden. They remain as the unobserved recipient of all these misfortunes. These communities, to greater extent it consisted of egalitarian values, have built is further shrinking. Due to automation and mechanisation even the employment opportunity provided by these mining companies have disappeared. Health is another area of severe concern. Education for the children of the already battered strata has become a distant dream.

Table-II
Ground Realities about mineral situation in Chhattisgarh
MINERAL RESERVES
MILLON TONNE
Dolomite 606.00
Limestone 3580.60
Iron ore 2336.00
Coal 35374.90
Bauxite 96.00
Tin ore 38.89

This puts forward an array of questions with respect to the possible quantum of land acquisition in future.

Drawing the Line of Resistance:

Resistance in mining area were of two types. One was totally against any sort of mining or activities related with mining. Second was the struggle of the mineworkers. People have waged large number of struggles across the country in which diverse methods, strategies and tactics were applied ranging from direct action to legal battles. Some of the resistance against exploration of mines such as the proposed BALCO exploration in Gandhamardan hills of Western Orissa, steel plant of Tata in Gopalpur, the proposed Bauxite mining by Bauxite India Limited in Markatola, Bastar are some of the instances where people could overt the State’s efforts. Orissa had turned out to be the underbelly of mining struggles in India.

Many other struggles continues like the fight against Utkal Alumina International Ltd. (UAIL) in Kashipur, the struggles in Nagarnar, against the Jindals in Chattisgarh and Goa, against Coal mining in different parts of Jaharkhand and Uttar Pradesh or with small local mining companies as in Rajasthan and in thousands of other places in the country. The experience has been far from a fruitful.

One crucial case study is that of Kashipur. Orissa is known for its rich mineral deposits. The assessed reserves of chromium and nickel ores and bauxite in the State constitute a substantial proportion of the total deposits of them in the country. Taking advantage of the process of liberalisation and the opening up of the economy, private companies set their sights on the Kashipur region, which has considerable concentration of bauxite. In the region, the Baphilimali hill is estimated to have a deposit of 1,957.3 lakh tonnes of bauxite, Kadingamali 914 lakh tonnes, and the Sasubo-humali hill 860 lakh tonnes. The Katuramali hill in nearby Thuamulrampur block has a deposit of 400 lakh tonnes.

Utkal Alumina, a consortium of Indian Aluminium Company (INDAL) (now owned by HINDALCO, part of the Aditya Birla group), the Tatas (they pulled out in 1998), Hydro Aluminium of Norway (or Norsk Hydro) and ALCAN (Aluminium Canada), are in the forefront of the mining-related activities. The Orissa Mining Corporation, the State government organisation, has been sidelined in the process. In the case of Utkal Alumina, it is estimated that 1,750 hectares of land will be required for mining, the plant site, a township and dumping spots. Apart from this, a stretch of land approximately 20 km long and 50 metres wide will be required for conveyer and corridor maintenance. The entire project is 100 per cent export-oriented.

Displacement of populations, loss of livelihood and damage to the environment and ecology of the region, which have been the consequences of mining and industrial activities, were kept hidden from the outside world or presented in a misleading manner.

Concerned over the prospect of having to leave their hearth and home, people started organising themselves. Road blockades, demonstrations and dharnas were organised in front of government offices at Kashipur and Rayagada. Survey teams of the companies were denied access to the area. Day and night vigil was maintained to prevent the entry of the government and company officials.

The responses of the Adivasi people were coordinated by organisations such as the Prakrutik Sampada Surakhya Parishad, the Baphilimali Surakhya Samiti and the Anchalik Surakhya Samiti. Every village now had a resistance body.

The State government, instead of winning the cooperation of the Adivasi people by accepting the community’s customary rights over the land and water and of access to forest resources, alienated them. The government and the companies appear to prefer the path of confrontation.

This is against the constitution of India and the “Samatha judgement” which came as an order from the Supreme Court in 1997. The affected villages have been resisting this project since they first learnt about the possible ill effects in 1993. The government and UAIL have sought to suppress their claims.

Meanwhile, under the direct patronisation of the companies, a pro-project group has also been formed. Those who fight for the rights of livelihood and against displacement are branded as people who oppose industrialisation and development. The pro-project group propagated the idea that the mining of bauxite was the only means for the area to cross the boundaries of backwardness. The Adivasi people are advised to sacrifice their “petty” rights in the “interest of the nation”.

The pro-mining group, which includes professionals, traders, contractors and others, feel that the Adivasi people would have gained enormously with the implementation of the projects. The government machinery, which is supposed to protect the interests of the people, are not perceived as such but are identified with the strident moves of these groups, which are not affected by the projects

Consequently the conflict between the people and the pro-company forces escalated. On December 15, under the leadership of N. Bhaskar Rao, Rayagada district president of the BJD, and Krishna Mohapatro, a former block chairman of Kashipur, a group of people reached Maikanch and allegedly tried to disrupt a gathering of Adivasi people who were to discuss a “road blockade” (Chakajam) program at Rafkana junction, 30 km away from Kashipur, scheduled for December 20. The companies and the State administration obviously wanted to foil it.

The people resisted the efforts to disrupt the meeting. On December 16, armed with a first information report (FIR) filed at the Kashipur police station, two platoons of armed policemen led by Circle Inspector Subash Swain and Kashipur Block Development Officer (BDO) Golak Mohanty reached Maikanch. The policemen beat up the women and asked for the whereabouts of the men, who were hiding in the nearby hills. Hearing the commotion, the men returned from the hills. As soon as the policemen noticed the men, they opened fire.

Since 1993, the police have registered 80 criminal cases against the Adivasi people and activists. On several occasions, the police resorted to lathi charge. Activists were attacked and offices of the resistance movement were destroyed. Even media persons entering the area were not spared.

On a number of occasions the Adivasi people filed cases against anti-social elements involved in the attacks. But the police took no action. Even when media persons were attacked, the police did not react, for years.

In the firing the local police killed three unarmed innocent Adivasis and wounded several more. The killing of Abhilas Jhodia, Raghu Jhodia and Jamudhar Jhodia has further antagonized the locals who see the use of force as a violation of their basic human rights. The local resistance to the UAIL project has only increased after the violence. Similar incidents have occurred in other areas nearby. There has been a clear and persistent bias of the state towards corporate entities at the cost of its own people. Orissa continues this despite the protests of its people; a protest that has been peaceful and led by some of its most marginalized communities.

Another mode of action is the legal way like what happened in the Samatha case. However it is as risky as the direct battle since any sort of a disruption from the court’s part will batter the whole spirit of the battle and further doors of any fight will also be closed. In the Narmada judgement and the Forest case of Godavarman as well as the recent verdict opposing strike by the employees give clear signals of judiciary being biased towards the globalised-liberalised development. Such resistance could gain some grounds only when there is a section of sensitive individual within the judiciary.

Third is that the workers struggles for job security, against contract labour system and the making of an El Dorado. The workers have waged several strikes. One major agenda of the struggle is the opposition towards privatisation of the coal industry through the back door. National trade unions have flagged a joint struggle against this process and express the unions’ determination to organise a countrywide struggle to defeat the anti-public sector policies of the government of India. In fact the centre has been thinking of bringing in a Coal Mines Nationalisation (Bill) for the last many years, by which not only the privatisation of coal will become smoother but also the transfer of PSUs into private corporate houses will also be easily facilitated.

A State Against its People:

State has turned into a repressive tool in the hands of the corporate sector, particularly the mining companies. It has not only imposed anti-people laws and polices on the people but also wherever people opposed it, people were subjected to bullets and lathis. De facto this is a part of pressure tactics of the State. With the rise of globalisation and its ancillary agencies, state has become characteristically powerless. It is the clear withdrawal of the state from its welfare responsibilities and acting as a string-puppet with the corporate sector holding its strings. This is the background of unleashing ferocious violence on people.

In the last one decade several incidence of firing and lathi charges have taken place in mining areas. Three people were killed on 16th December 2000 at Maikanch in police firing. In Nagarnar police lath charged and fired wounding 3 persons due to bullets and scores due to the lathi charge. In Raigarh, Satyabhama a tribal woman dies during the indefinite hunger strike against Jindal. Hence organised violence is a part of the larger violence. Some more incidences taken place during the course of time, however here the emphasis is on specific cases where there had been firing and the State came out with investigation of such police action.

The recently submitted Justice P K Mishra Commission report on the Maikanch firing incident in Orissa’s Rayagada district has managed a careful balancing act. The commission was set up by the Orissa government to probe the deaths of three Adivasis (tribals) killed in police firing in Maikanch on December 16, 2000. For over a decade, Adivasis in the area have opposed UAIL’s bauxite mining project in the region, aware of the displacement of population and ecological devastation that could follow. The commission has agreed that while there should not be senseless destruction of the environment, the state cannot afford to remain backward as a result of environmental protection.

The report gives a shot in the arm to UAIL and the state government who have been trying to kick-start the export-oriented alumina project, halted since 2001. In 2000, when the police fired 19 rounds (not necessary as the commission puts it) on a crowd of unarmed Adivasis, it formed part of a series of similar confrontations between Adivasi groups and the authorities. In 1993, when the project proposal was presented to the people of the most-affected villages, Kucheipadar and Maikanch, the Adivasis resolutely opposed it. Since then they have contended with harassment, police brutality and state coercion. By 1995 land acquisition was already under way, often violently.

Organised under the banner of Prakrutik Sampada Surakhya Parishad, and other surakhya (protection) samitis, the Adivasis’ struggle has spread to more than 200 villages. They are aware of what is at stake – barely 100 km from Baphlimali Hill, the proposed mining site, is Nalco’s bauxite mine/alumina smelter, which in just 10 years reduced the area’s Adivasis to landless ecological refugees. Also close by is the Hirakud dam which in the 1950s uprooted a large number of Adivasis, many of whom were displaced a second time when their compensated lands were found to be coal-rich. In Orissa alone, already 14 lakh people, mostly Adivasis, have been displaced by development projects. The Baphlimali hills are the source of 350 perennial streams. Deforestation caused by the mines and smelter will be aggravated because of the hilly terrain, resulting in frequent flash floods and landslides.

The company and the government, however, maintain that the bauxite-alumina complex would help the Adivasis. And the P K Mishra Commission feels that bauxite extraction would not have an adverse impact on the environment. As early as last April, the Indian Aluminium Company (Indal), UAIL’s sole owner, had announced its decision to recommence work at the site; it hopes to produce 15 lakh tonnes annually by 2007, the project’s first phase. In the last few years, the state government has continued with the formalities of licenses, permits and land acquisition – a process made easier because most Adivasis, unaware of regulations, do not register their land rights. The 2,800 hectares thus acquired would be handed over to UAIL soon.

Among its recommendations, the P K Mishra Commission has advised the government to consider the possibility of giving land in lieu of land taken from Adivasis. But while the Baphlimali area is to be given over to mining, assessments by various groups reveal that the requirements of 2,610 hectares of land, including 1,000 hectares of cultivable land for the factory/wastage dump alone, will cripple the livelihoods of most settlements in the area. In fact, many villages stand to lose 75% of cultivable land and will not even be considered displaced, rendering the people virtually landless. Even after the project’s completion, Adivasis can expect to see very few benefits since few can hope to gain employment, except as construction labour or menial help.

So many issues leading to police firing such as – land acquisition, company sponsored violence, role of local politicians, tribals’ apprehension of losing livelihood, probable water scarcity due to proposed mining at Baphilimali hills, were not taken into consideration.

While the Commission did fault the police for excessive use of force, it did not recommend any action against them. But then the Maikanch incident is in line with similar recent incidents when the state has unleashed its machinery to brutally repress protests by marginalised sections. Two months after Maikanch, protests against the Koel Karo Dam in Jharkhand led to the shooting of several Adivasis resisting displacement. Madhya Pradesh has enacted the MP Special Areas Security Act to ban public protests and people’s groups the state considers a threat; and early this year, the police fired on Adivasis in Kerala’s Muthanga reserve while they were agitating for land promised them by successive judicial orders. More compelling is the conclusion reached by former judge D S Tewatia in his investigation report on the Maikanch incident – the state’s administrative machinery, the police in particular, appeared to have worked at the behest of the powerful aluminium consortium.

Despite all the rhetoric of participatory development, Rayagada’s Adivasis are denied even limited constitutional rights. The process of limited ‘consultation’ on land acquisition that the Panchayat Act for Scheduled Areas provides to Adivasis was avoided. The government and UAIL are also in contempt of the Supreme Court’s 1997 decision in the Samatha case, which prohibits mining by private companies in Adivasi areas.

According to the Justice Dave commission Report 50 percent of women working in mines were sexually exploited and not a single case was reported to the police in Rajasthan.

Investigation reports of cases of firing in mine areas have not yet come out into the limelight in many cases. Even if the government constitutes an investigation, it remains void so far the people are considered since the people are depicted as unwanted and anti development agents. Ironically the judiciary has also become the bearer of this same. What is lacking, rather missing is the consciousness of just mining. So thus continues the misery of Adivasis, Dalits and already battered communities.

The Final Word:

The picture is lucid at the national level that how the concept of industrialisation under planned development and now under globalisation liberalisation policies have adversely affected the masses. In this situation, where are the people going to be listed. Surely it is the people who have to decide, but the choice and space is limited. They have to generate more power from within to fight out the global politics. No state or political part will come to rescue. People need to speak out.

It is felt that the land acquisition process and free market economy do not go together. Even in a market friendly economy the people are not allowed to exercise their free will in the matter of disposing their land at the market price. The mechanism of compensation of compensation and rehabilitation is too much supportive to the corporate sector; this only pauperises the poor than a change in their destiny. The principles of compensation never estimates or often forgets that on the very first day of reaching a rehabilitation colony, a poor family has to buy firewood, which they procured free from the Common Property Rights (CPR).

Land is a productive asset but people are more emotionally attached with the land in many ways. For many it is the symbol of their freedom. To some it is the image of their fight against the upper caste. It also represents the mark of reiterating the lost identity. To many it is the icon of self-determination, co-existence and community feeling. But to the corporate sector and agents of development it is a commodity to be consumed. The state also takes side with these so-called think tanks. Land can be purchased and sold for commercial purpose. Or even it could be acquired forcefully. The common man of the country sacrifices himself for the relish and enjoyment of the elite. No mining company could compensate the loss that people have to suffer.

The trust of the disinherited was further shattered and disowned by the disingenuous attitude of the state. In many cases even the highest offices of the President and the Governor closed eyes and remained disabled to use their prerogative powers. All attempts were only to sugar-coat and water-down the efforts of democratic protests and opposition, which give an impetus to the mining companies to capitalise the situation and overthrow the people’s aspirations. Questions pertaining to human rights violation went unheard into oblivion.

The abominable and abhorrent attitude, the odious and repulsive demeanour, the atrocious and heinous actions of a capitalist is putting forward a large range of questions before us. The hire and fire formula of the capital-fascist brigade, the coherence of world capital with global fascism is permeating glaringly and has pervaded all over. It is under this context questions such as mining for whom, displacement in whose interest, the meaning of planned development; the parlance of rehabilitation and resettlement etc. needs serious rethinking. With such a drastic situation it is not wise to laud kudos of development; it is the digging of graveyard of thousands of masses.

The state should become more responsible and accountable to the masses. In a globalised era, the sweeping changes in political structures, coupled with the disempowerment of state, it won’t be so easy for the people to survive. All measure of a ‘welfare state’ has disappeared in the whirlwind of planned development and further outgrown with the globalisation liberalisation policies. Only the people’s rise with acute political clarity of taking up power, the state power can save them from this trauma.

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