By Stan Swamy
Why, on the one hand, the Adivasi people of Nagri are refusing to part with their land and are ready to make any sacrifice for it, and, on the other hand, the Jharkhand govt is determined to take it even at the cost of shedding the blood of people ?
In a democracy people are the masters and the govt is their servant. How come the table has turned opposite? How come Jharkhand government has become insensitive to the aspirations of the poorest of the poor and is bent upon obliging the richest class of society for its lavish needs?
The reason for this is to be traced to the very different world-views, two very different philosophies which guide the adivasi people on the one hand and the Jharkhand government on the other.
1. Concept of land and its use:
a) The adivasi people of Nagri look upon their land (earth) as their Mother inherited from their ancestors which they will use as long as they are alive and will pass on to their future generations. Their land gives them an identity as its custodians, and hence it cannot be bought or sold but can only be used and protected. A second important consideration is that the 227 acres of their land which the government is trying to forcibly acquire is their only source of survival. They have worked hard on their land and have made it a fertile agricultural land. If such land is forcibly snatched from them they will lose their only source of sustenance. Sadly the erstwhile Bihar government as well as the successive govts of Jharkhand did not bother to do any thing for the welfare of this people.
b) Jharkhand government, on the other hand, is guided by capitalist ideology as per which land is only an economic commodity and is to be exploited to make the highest profit in as short a time as possible. The capitalist who has the capital, technology to do that will be welcome to take over the land, destroy forest, agriculture, water sources and will not be held accountable to any body. As for Nagri land is concerned, it is being forcibly taken to make place for some prestigious institutions (IIM, National Law University) in which local Jharkhandi students will hardly have any place. It is actually meant for the top elite class of society from all over the country. It will be just a decoration on the throne of the capitalist ruling class, and for this the toiling Jharkhandi masses have to sacrifice all they have, and be thrown on the street as rickshaw-pullers and casual labourers. This is a very unjust process of impoverishment of the small land-owning class and shows the emptiness of capitalism.
2. The offer of compensation:
a) Nagri people refused to accept cash compensation in 1957 and they refuse to accept it now. They refused even to discuss it with the high-power committee because they know very well that money can never replace their land. They know that hard work on their land will give them food, self-respect and dignity, whereas money will simply throw them in the consumerist market and their money will be finished even before they know it. Also they know what has been the miserable condition of those adivasis & moolvasis who had received cash compensation in the past.
b) Jharkhand government, on the other hand, is trying its best to dump some money on the to-be-displaced people and then neatly forget them. It is again making the same mistake of fixing the amount without any transparency and without taking the affected people into confidence. The whole process is arbitrary and therefore illegal and invalid.
3) Facts speak for themselves:
a) Nagri people have placed all the facts on the table, namely (i) they live in Vth Schedule area where TAC has a crucial role, (ii) CNT Act is applicable, (iii) they are covered by PESA Act, (iv) they refused compensation in 1957, (v) the written statement from BIRSA Agriculture University that it is not in possession of the supposedly acquired land, (vi) copies of khatyan and malgujari which establish their actual possession of the land in question.
b) Jharkhand government, on the other hand, is hiding these facts before the judiciary and is putting forward only the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 which we all know is the British colonial Act meant to seize Indian land for the empire. Thus Jharkhand government is playing a cheating game.
To conclude, may we say that government’s capitalist approach has enriched the already rich, further impoverished the already poor and has brought in uncontrolled corruption in every level and walk of life. It is only the approach of the indigenous adivasi people of Nagri which cherishes the Earth as Mother and respect and protect her rights will see the development and welfare of all human beings.
Writer is a Human Rights Activist from Jharkhand associated with the
Nagri People’s Movement.