Interview

The Government has betrayed us: Gladson Dungdung

article-weshivteut-1462872913

Gladson Dungdung is a renowned Activist, Author, Researcher, Public Speaker and Motivator. Some of his path breaking books are ‘Endless Cry in the Red Corridor’, ‘Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India’, ‘Whose Country is it Anyway?’, ‘Crossfire’, ‘Adivasis aur Vanadhikar (Adivasis and Forest Rights) and ‘Vikas Ke Kabragar (Graveyard of Development)’. He comes from the Kharia Adivasi community of the Indian state of Jharkhand. Today, he is one of the recognized Adivasi voice in India. Sunil Raj Philip has spoken to him. Excerpt from the interview.

You are an ardent activist author for human rights violation especially for that of the Indigenous Peoples. Who/what was the inspiration/event that motivated you?

I come from a family, who has paid the heavy price for so-called development. Our agricultural land was submerged in ‘Kelaghagh Dam’ constructed over ‘Chhinda River’ for irrigation project near Simdega town in 1980. Unfortunately, we were neither rehabilitated, nor compansade and the water of Dam also never reached to our remaining land. We were simply betrayed in the name of development and forced to live in the forest area, and later coined as encroachers too. However, my father became one of the well known social activists in the region, later; he was brutally murdered along with my mother while they were going to attend Simdega Civil Court related to a case of land dispute in village in 1990. My father used to say that in whatever situation we may be, but we must fight for the people. I have seen him, while struggling for our survival; he was also fighting for the people. At the beginning of my activism, I travelled across the state of Jharkhand, I could see the pain, suffering and agony of our people, who were alienated, uprooted and displaced from their lands, houses and forests for the so-called public interest, national interest and development, but they were hardly able to raise their issues. Therefore, I decided to take up their causes. My parents especially my father is the main source of my inspiration.

Is there any specific area that concerns you the most regarding the violation of Indigenous People’s rights?

In October 2009, when the joint anti-Naxal operation largely known as ‘Operation Green Hunt’ was launched across the Red Corridor of India by the Indian State, which is actually the Adivasi Corridor, I could see that hundreds of innocent Adivasis were brutally killed in fake encounters, women were raped and thousands of them were brutally tortured and imprisoned by the Security Forces falsely implicating them as Naxals. Anybody who would raise the questions against displacement and police atrocity would be targeted by the State therefore, most of the people decided to keep silent. But my inner voice didn’t allow me to do so therefore, I started roaming in the Red Corridor, did fact finding and filed petitions with the National Human Rights Commission and Jharkhand High Court on the cases of fake encounter, rape, molestation, torture and falsely implicated cases. As a result, the State was forced to accept the gross human rights violation caused by the Security Forces in the Red Corridor. The investigations were done; fake encounters were established and family members were also compensated but the most unfortunate part is that the perpetrators were hardly brought to justice. This is how the impunity continues in our Country, where the Constitution guarantees for the social, economic and political justice to each and everyone. However, the major concern is that the Indian State has been waging war against the Adivasis in the name of bringing peace, good governance and development in their territory but the actual aim is to grab the natural resources, which means there is biggest threat to the existence of Adivasis, wildlife and biodiversity.

Tell us about your book – “Mission Saranda” that was launched in Ranchi, JNU, New Delhi and Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London as well as Suxess Univesity, UK?

 In this book, I have documented, reviewed and analyzed the issues of Saranda Forest from a holistic approach, which begins with the challenges of travelling in the Red Corridor. It goes further with the discussion about the relationship between forest and Adivasis and the iron ore mining and its impact in the lives of the Adivasis. It analyses the forest movement and the State suppression, the Naxal Movement, its nexus with the corporate houses and impact on the Adivasis. Further, it analyses the war and human right violations including brutal killing of innocent Adivasis and the role of the National Human Rights Commission. The book reviews the status of health, education and basic needs like drinking water in the Saranda Forest. It analyses the role of media, politicians and local self governance. It also unfolds the corporate houses’ foul play during the public hearings by bribing the community, traditional heads and local politicians. The book analyses the biodiversity and forest rights of the Adivasis. But most importantly, it exposes the failure of the much hyped ‘Saranda Development Plan’, which was propagated as a model for the development of the Naxal affected areas of India.

The book ‘Mission Saranda’ intends to tell the world about the pain, suffering and agony of the Adivasis of Saranda Forest, who are residing over the mineral wealth. It exposes the State sponsored gross human rights violations committed in the name of economic growth, development and establishment of peace and good governance. And of course, it exposes how the Indian State has been waging a war against its own people with clear intention to grab their natural resources, especially the mineral resources and hand those over to the corporate houses. The book aims to bring the Adivasis’ issues at centre stage of the public debate so that the Adivasis are no longer be treated merely either as victims or beneficiaries but they are included as the opinion and decision makers in the corridor of power, which may pave the way for solution to their endless problems.

The case of Saranda Forest in Jharkhand is one of the best examples of how India’s civil war is not about cleansing away the CPI-Maoist so that peace and good governance can be restored in the conflict zones. It is the State’s well planned war against the Adivasis for mineral resources. Although the State, the Corporate Houses, the CPI-Maoist and the Adivasis are the major stakeholders in the war, the losers are the Adivasis.

Presently, on which issue are you working/focusing on?

I’m focusing on the violation of civil and political rights as well and economic, social and cultural rights. For instance, extrajudicial killing, rape, torture, falsely implicated cases by the security forces during anti-Naxal operations. At the same time, I’m also raising the issues of right to life, force displacement, land alienation, freedom of thought and expression, freedom of religion, forest rights, Adivasi identity, autonomy, language, culture, etc.

What is the most challenging obstacle that you face in you ventures?

The State is run by the corporate houses today, who are not allowing to exercise the real democracy, Indian Constitution and people centered Laws. Secondly, there are multiple division among the Adivasis i.e. ethnic group, religion and language, etc., which are not allowing them to unite in one forum. Thirdly, there is also competition among the Adivasi Activists, writers and public intellectuals, which is creating a kind of enmity among us. However, since, I’m in the middle, who have been raising uncomfortable questions against the State, the Corporate houses and the Naxal organizations therefore, I’m targeted from all the corners but I’m least bothered about them.

What are your expectations from people/specifically from the religious Institutions?

The leadership of these institutions must understand the Adivasi issues, Adivasi identity and culture. They should promote the youth leadership in all the areas. Today, providing merely health and education facilities to the Adivasis without critical awareness on their issues will not serve the purposes in long run. There is a thrust need of intellectual revolution among the Adivasis, which will bring back their lost pride, identity, language, culture and autonomy.

What all are the new challenges you find for the Tribals and Adivasis in India under the present Central Government?

The Present government is much more oppressive. Since, the Prime Minister comes from a business community, he sees everything in that perspective therefore, his government has been trying hard to grab the Adivasis’ land, territory and resources by adopting legal route and the Land Acquisition Ordinance is one of the examples of it. He is in too hurry for handing over the natural resources to the corporate houses in the name of economic growth, development and national interest. Besides, this government has been attempting to eliminate the identity of Adivasis by coining them as ‘Vanbandhi’ through government programmes, which is quite dangerous. The right wing Hindutava forces the RSS and its allied organizations used to call the Adivasis as ‘Vanvasi’, which is a derogatory for the Adivasis. Therefore, the Adivasis must understand about the vote bank politics because unless they come together, they are not going to protect their land, territory, resources, identity, culture, tradition, language, etc. And without these, there won’t be Adivasis.

Your message especially to the Indigenous People.

On 5th January 2011, the Supreme Court of India through a landmark judgment has said that the Adivasis and tribals are the real owner of this country and rest are the decedent of either immigrants or invaders. Therefore, the Adivasis must feel proud of being Adivasis, practice their identity, culture, tradition, language and autonomy without fear. Besides, they must take up leadership in all the areas – politics, judiciary, media, literature, education, health, business and what not. If they become leaders, the tide will surly turn on the other side.

Note: Interview was taken in 2016.

News in Media

Indian government bars another activist from leaving the country

By Max Bearak

May 10, 2016

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Gladson Dungdung is either a security threat, or the Indian government doesn’t want the attendees of a workshop on environmental politics at the University of Sussex, in England, to hear what he has to say. The activist’s passport was impounded at Delhi’s airport on Monday morning while he was on his way to London. This is the second London-bound environmental activist to be turned around — Priya Pillai, a Greenpeace campaigner, was similarly “offloaded” from her flight before she could present evidence to British members of parliament on human rights violations surrounding coal mining operations in central India. Two months later, Delhi’s High Court overturned the bar on Pillai’s travel in an order that noted: “You can’t muzzle dissent in a democracy.”

Dungdung is a member of one of India’s “adivasi” or “tribal” communities, which make up about 8 percent of the national population, and are widely thought to be indigenous to the subcontinent. That population is concentrated in central and eastern India, in tracts that are or were formerly forested. Those regions are also home to India’s most intensive mining and some of its largest dams, which are essential to fulfilling the government’s vision of providing electricity to over 300 million Indians who don’t yet have access. Adivasi communities have close spiritual ties to the land, often relying on it for their livelihoods, and they have produced some of the staunchest opponents of India’s resource-extraction economy. Some have joined a half-century-old Maoist guerrilla insurgency, which Indian armed forces have failed to fully quash over the decades.

Adivasi activists, as well as others who work in the human and environmental rights spheres in eastern and central India, are often conflated with Maoists — and being a Maoist, or working with them in any way, is against the law, and would certainly lead to a travel ban. But Dungdung has written that he couldn’t possibly be a Maoist in a piece that directly asks the question in the title: “Am I a Maoist?”

“I have never read about Maoism. I deliberately do not read about any ideology because I know that Maoists teach the Adivasis about Maoism, Gandhians preach them about Gandhism and Marxists ask them to walk on Marxism,” he wrote. “But no one bothers about Adivasism, which is the best ‘ism’ among these, which perhaps leads to a just and equitable society.”

Rather, since Dungdung had traveled abroad in the recent past, he believes that something he just did must have led to his name ending up on a blacklist: publishing Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India, which follows his first book, Whose Country Is It Anyway: Untold Stories of the Indigenous Peoples of India. Many have accused him, as they did with Priya Pillai, of being an “anti-national,” and standing in the way of India’s development.

Dungdung’s personal story follows the contours of displacement and harassment that haunt adivasi communities around India. “When I was just one year old, my family was displaced. Our 20 acres of fertile land was taken away from us in the name of development,” he wrote. “Our ancestral land was submerged in a Dam, which came up at Chinda River near Simdega town in 1980.”

He said his family of six was given a pittance in compensation, and those in his community who protested were jailed. Later, his family settled in a nearby forest, but were constantly hounded out of their home by forestry officials who accused them of illegal encroachment and woodcutting. When he was still a boy, both of his parents were murdered, and the culprits were never apprehended. He believes that most of this is because of discrimination. “Why there is no electricity in my village even today? Why my people do not get water for their field whose lands were taken for the irrigation projects? Why there is no electricity in those houses, who have given their land for the power project? And why people are still living in small mud houses whose lands were taken for the steel plants? It seems that the Adivasis are only born to suffer and other to enjoy over our graves.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/05/10/indian-government-bars-another-activist-from-leaving-the-country/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.47f9b27d72c8

Jharkhand Adivasi activist’s passport seized at Delhi airport

Deepu Sebastian & Vijaita Singh

CHENNAI:, MAY 10, 2016 09:25 IST

In a case similar to that of Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai’s, Ranchi-based Adivasi activist Gladson Dungdung’s passport was seized citing a Look Out Circular at the New Delhi airport on Monday and he was not allowed to board a flight to London.

Mr. Dungdung (36) was to conduct a workshop at the University of Sussex on Environmental Politics and Activism on May 10; this would be part of a larger workshop on Environmental History and Politics of South Asia. He said that two others who would be part of his workshop – anthropologist Felix Padel and researcher Malvika Gupta – had been allowed to make the trip.

Mr. Gladson’s passport had been impounded earlier too. In January 2014, he had to surrender the document after an adverse police report mentioned his activism at Nagri, a village on the outskirts of Ranchi. Adivasis had been agitating against the acquisition of farmland to construct institutes of higher education. The passport was returned six months later after a second police verification. Gladson said he has travelled abroad twice after. “I released by book Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India at the University of Sussex on November 20 last year. I also travelled to Denmark,” he said.

Immigration sources said that Mr. Dungdung had been stopped due to reasons linked to the first instance and not because of his activism. “He had reported his passport lost in 2013. The Regional Passport office reported the matter to us only in January this year by saying that the passport had been cancelled,” said an official. He countered this by saying that he had never lost his passport; two notices dated October 22, 2013 from the RPO had asked him to surrender his passport for verification in the light of the adverse police report.

Mr. Dungdung was to fly from New Delhi to London by Air India’s AI115, due to depart at 5.30 AM. Speaking over the phone from the airport, Mr. Dungdung – preparing to fly back to Ranchi – said, “I was stopped at immigration and asked whether I was a student. When I said I was a human rights activist, they asked me to wait.” Mr. Dungdung said that after a while, an immigration officer informed him that they were retaining his passport. “They said I was in wrongful possession of it,” he said.

“Pax [Person] was LOC [Look Out Circular] subject, allowing impounding of passport. Hence passport seized and sent to concerned authority through FRRO [Foreigner Regional Registration Office] Delhi,” said the seizure memo handed to Mr. Dunddung by an Immigration Clearing Officer. Mr. Dungdung has an academic visa that expires only on November 1. He had both onward and return tickets.

Mr. Dungdung is the author of seven books, five in Hindi and two in English. An Adivasi himself, he came to prominence in 2011 when Jharkhand police and paramilitary forces launched Operation Anaconda within the state’s Saranda forests to flush out CPI(Maoist) members from the headquarters of their Eastern Regional Bureau. Mr. Dungdung was able to document and expose the plight of villagers caught in the crossfire. Later, he was one of the leaders of an agitation in the outskirts of Ranchi: villagers of Nagri opposed the takeover of farmland for multiple educational institutions.

“Defaulters of millions of INR like Mr. Vijay Malaya (sic.) can’t be offloaded but activists like me are bound to be offloaded. However, my fight for the Advasis’ ownership rights over the natural resources, Adivasi identity, human rights, ecology and against unjust development processes will continue till they take away my right to life forever,” Mr.Dungdung said in a Facebook post.

Ms. Pillai said there were similarities between her case and Mr.Dungdung’s. “I also checked in and was stopped at immigration,” she said. However, officials did not take away her passport and instead stamped “Offload” on it; the HC asked that it be removed. “At the time, I was not told of a Look Out Circular – officials said I was on a blacklist, a database of people not allowed to travel. The government accepted the existence of a Look Out Circular only during court proceedings,” she said.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/jharkhand-adivasi-activists-passport-seized-at-delhi-airport/article8578905.ece 

There can be no economy without ecology, says tribal rights activist ‘offloaded’ from London-bound plane

Written by Tarishi Verma | New Delhi |

Updated: May 9, 2016 8:23:52 pm

In a case similar to that of Greenpeace activist Priya Pilla, tribal rights activist Gladson Dungdung on Monday claimed he was “offloaded” from a London-bound Air India flight, citing his passport as an issue.

Dungdung was supposed to be on a flight from New Delhi to London where he was going to attend a workshop on Environmental History and Politics of South Asia, to be held at the University of Sussex on May 10.

“When I went to the immigration officer about one-and-a-half hours before my flight, he first greeted me nicely, asking me about myself. Then he asked me if I was a student. When I said no, I was a researcher, he asked me what was my area of research. As soon as I said human rights, he became alert and excused himself,” Dungdung told Indianexpress.com over phone.

The officer then started contacting the Air India staff. Dungdung overheard the officer mentioning the word “offloading”.

“I asked him why I was being offloaded. He said my passport has been impounded. I reasoned with him that I had surrendered my passport in 2013 and all the formalities were over in that year. I also told him that I had traveled overseas in 2014 and 2015. To this he replied that this was 2016 and that he couldn’t do anything,” he said.

Dungdung was subsequently not allowed to board the flight and had to return to his home in Ranchi. The authorities also seized his passport.

 Gladson is a tribal rights activist and believes in retaining and increasing the forest cover for the adivasi population as well as for the betterment of the world.

“There can be no economy without ecology. Are people going to eat iron and money instead of rice and grain,” he said.

Dungdung has recently authored the book ‘Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India’, which focuses on human rights violations and mining issues in Saranda Forest which houses India’s rich Adivasi cultural heritage.

In January 2015, Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was also offloaded from a flight going to the UK where she was supposed to testify against the UK-based firm Mahaan Coal Limited.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/gladson-dungdung-tribal-rights-activist/

More News report

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/ranchi-activist-gladson-dungdung-offloaded-from-flight-to-london-2792488/

https://www.huffingtonpost.in/2016/05/09/gladson-dungdung-flight_n_9867092.html

https://thewire.in/rights/tribal-rights-activist-gladson-dungdung-offloaded-passport-taken

https://scroll.in/article/807819/tribal-rights-activist-gladson-dungdung-stopped-from-travelling-to-london

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/tribal-rights-activist-offloaded-from-ai-london-flight-1404563

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india/uk-bound-tribal-rights-activist-s-passport-impounded-at-delhi-airport/story-4KKnfhFdE8ABix48cadhKI.html

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/activist-s-wings-to-london-clipped/cid/1490560

https://www.dailyo.in/politics/gladson-dungdung-vijay-mallya-ngo-greenpeace-priya-pillai-bhopal-gas-tragedy-veerappa-moily/story/1/10571.html

Research Paper

Development over Deadbodies

By Gladson Dungdung

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Abstract:

The Adivasis are the Indigenous Peoples of India, Constitutionally known as the Scheduled Tribes, who have unique tradition, culture and identity. Their economy is based on agro-forestry. They do not rely on the natural resources merely for livelihood, but their sole identity, culture, history, autonomy and existence depend on it. Though enough provisions have been made in the Indian Constitution and the government has also introduced several progressive laws for safeguarding the Adivasis including their land, rerritory and resources. Despite that their rights are grossly violated and they are being alienated, displaced and dispossessed from their land, territory and resources in the name of development, economic growth and national interest. The liberalisation of the India’s economic policy to exelarate the industrialisation processes have resulted in massive resource grab of the Adivasis. However, when they exercise their right to freedome of expression against the resource grab, their voices are suppressed with the mighy power of the state. Thus, the development and economic growth have become a nightmare for the Indigenous Peoples. However, the Indian State has been accelerating the processes of industrialisation in the 5th Scheduled Areas despite massive bloodbath. Therefore, this paper is an attempt to understand the Adivasis’ rights, the natural resources and development contradictions of the 5th Scheduled Areas.

Keywords: Adivasi, Identity, Livelihood, Scheduled Area, Rights, Resources Grab, Development, Displacement, Industrialisation, bloodbath.  

Introduction:

The ‘Adivasi’ literally means the aboriginal, original settler or first settler of the land[1]. Actually, the ‘Adivasis are the Indigenous People[2] of India. In the Indian Constitution, they are classified as the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and guaranteed certain rights and privileges. As many as ‘705 ethnic groups are identified as tribals across 30 states[3]. The number was 461 before 1990. Among them, 75 groups have been identified as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) from 17 states’[4]. The Indian Government had repeatedly declined about their existence in front of the United Nations’ Working Group on Indigenous Populations, nevertheless, on 5 January, 2011, the Apex Court of India while hearing on an appeal (the special leave petition (Cr) No. 10367 of 2010 Kailas & others Vs State of Maharashtra) said that the tribal people (Scheduled Tribes or Adivasis) are the ‘descendants of the original inhabitants of India, but now constitute only about 8 percent of our total population, and as a group are one of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities in India. The rest 92 percent of the population of India consists of descendants of immigrants[5]. The court clearly observed that ‘India is broadly a country of immigrants like North America[6]. Thus, the majority of the people living in India today are ‘descendants of immigrants or invedors, who came mainly from the North-West and to a lesser extent from the North-East[7].

However, the fact is the Adivasis are being discriminated, exploited, alienated, displaced and denied justice in their own country by the elite rulers, who are the descendents of immigrants or invedors, which is of course, a shameful. According to the census 2011, the Adivasis are 8.6 percent of the total population of India, which is 104 million. ‘About 85 percent of them live in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal. About 12 percent live in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura[8]. The Adivasis live in or around the forests and their life cycle moves round the nature. Hence, ‘90 percent of them still live in or in close proximity to the forests[9] and merely10 percent of them have shifted to the cities. They do not merely depend on natural resources for their livelihood, but their sole identity, culture, history, autonomy and existence are based on it.

In the ancient period, the Adivasis had their ownership rights over the natural resources and they judiciously used these resources for their survival. Consequently, they were living with autonomy, peace and prosperity. The situation changed after the Aryan invasion and became worst during the  British rule in India. On the one hand, the Aryans destroyed the Adivasi civilization, denied the indigenous identity and did not accept them as the fellow human beings, and the Britishers imposed violence on the Adivasis by grabbing their land, territory and resources and even named few of them as criminal tribes on the other[10]. Soon after the East India Company entered into the vicinity, the Britishers realized the enormous commercial potential of India’s natural resources and systematically went about acquiring control over the land, territory and resources by capturing power, introducing lagislations and using military power.

In response to the British rule, the Adivasis revolted against them. Adivasis used their traditional weapons against the Britishers. In 1779, the Adivasi legend Baba Tilika Manjhi dared to the Britishers by saying, “Our people have lived here since the dawn of creation. We have never been the lords of the earth. The earth is our mother. We are all her children. We are the trustees of this land. It is our responsibility to see that the land continues to sustain future generations that we have not even imagined. This is our heritage. Then how can you, British, an alien race, declare yourselves the lords and masters of the forests that sustain us and give us life? How can you deny us entrance to the only home we have ever known? We will die before we accept this rule.” (Dungdung, 2004). Perhaps, Baba Tilka Majhi was the first Adivasi leader who led an organized fight against the the British in 1779. ‘The Britishers surrounded the Tilapore forest from where he was operating the fight but he and his men held the enemy at bay for several weeks. When he was finally caught in 1784, he was tied to the tails of four horses and dragged all the way to the collector’s residence at Bhgalpur. There, his lacerated body was hung in a Banyan tree[11]. However, in 1793, the Britishers imposed the “Permanent Settlement Act” to get much revenue from the land, which affected the socio-economic and culture of the Adivasis, and their lands slipped into the hands of the landlords. Thus the community ownership on land was overshadowed by the Zamindari system.

‘The British introduced a centrally organized administration, a judiciary and a police system. The concept of private property was imposed on land as opposed to the traditional notion of collective usufructuary rights of the community. The community resources were considered as the ‘eminent domain’ and taken over. Thus forests and other individually unclaimed fallow lands were declared as the property of the state’ (Munda & Mullick, 2003). Gradually, the government enacted various forest policies, which induced the marginalization of the Adivasis. They were deprived from the natural resource merely for the government’s revenue yielding measures. Imposing revenue on land and duties on the forest produces crashed the “Adivasi economy”. The Britishers also brought the Land Acquisition Act in 1894, which helped them to strengthen their rule by destroying local people’s rights over the land. In 1984, the Act was amended but the principle of eminent domain remained the same.

However, after independence the status quo remains the same. The painful reality is that so far as the monopoly over the natural resources is concerned; the Indian rulers were not different from the Britishers. ‘The vested interest, the methods of oppression and the basic ideology remain the same’ (Arjum & Manthan, 2002: 4). The Adivasis rights over the natural resources were snatched away through the various legislations in the name of development, national interest and economic growth. In India around 50 million people have been displaced due to development projects in over 50 years[12]. Around 21.3 million development-induced IDPs include those displaced by dams (16.4 million), mines (2.55 million), industrial development (1.25 million) and wild life sanctuaries and national parks (0.6 million)[13]. The draft of the government’s National Policy for Rehabilitation states that a figure around 75% of the displaced people since 1951 is still awaiting rehabilitation[14]. Interestingly, 90 percent coal, 50 percent mines and 50 percent Dams are located in the Adivasi areas. Although the tribal population only makes up eight per cent of the total population but more than ‘40 per cent of the development induced displaced are tribal peoples in India[15]. As a result, the Adivasis’ discontent, anger and resistance manifested day by day.

Since, adoption of the liberal economic policy in 1991 in India, the national and multi-national corporations also became major key actors in the land grabbing of the Adivasis, which forced them to fighting against the state and non-state actors to protect their land, territory and resources. Finally, in 2006, the Indian government accepted through the Forest Rights Act 2006 about the historical injustice unleashed on the Adivasis but it did not bring appropriate mechanism to right the wrong instead the whole community was labeled as the ‘Naxalites’. A very interesting point to note is a few Adivasis used the violence to protect their land, territory and resources whereas the Britishers and Indian rulers adopted the violence for capturing the land, territory and resources of the Adivasis. 21st century became the worst for the Adivasis, precisely because the Indian state has been waging a war against them in the name of the national security, economic growth and development. However, the Adivasis have not given up therefore, their democratic struggle for protection of their land, territory and resources are ongoing. Kalinganagar is one of the worst examples of the corporate land grab in India. Today, it is one of the emerging industrial hubs located in Jajpur district of Orissa. Just two decades ago it was an area covered with paddy field and forest. On January 2, 2006, Kalinganagar had become a battlefield, where police fired on the Adivasis. Consequently, 19 of them lost their lives but finally the Tata Company could able to build its steel plant, which is called the symbol of modern development.

Constitutional and Legal Provisions for the Adivasis:

Since, the Adivasis were historically alienated, dispossessed, displaced, exploited and marginalized, therefore, the Constitutional and legal provisions were made for their safeguard. The Constitution of India, Article 366 (25) defines Schedule Tribes as “such tribes or tribal communities or part of our groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to the Schedule Tribes (ST) for the purposes of this Constitution”[16]. According to the Article 342, procedure to be followed for specification of Scheduled Tribes is prescribed and the Article 19(5) to create exceptions for tribal areas under “Fundamental Right of free movement and residence to safeguard encroachment and their fragile habitat. The state government has been empowered to ‘impose reasonable restriction to protect the interest of the Scheduled Tribes’[17].

Similarly, the Article 244 is titled as ‘Administration of Scheduled Areas and Tribal Areas’. Sub-clause (2) of article 244 {244(2)} provides applicability of sixth schedule to the administration of the tribal areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura. Sub-clause (1) of article 244 {244 (1)} provides applicability of the fifth schedule to the administration and control of the scheduled areas and scheduled tribes in any other State. The basic feature of 5th and 6th Schedules of the Constitution is to remove these areas from the purview of the general law of the land and to make the Governor sole repository of legislative power and to act on the advice of the Tribal Advisory council; or to hand over the functioning of these areas to the autonomous districts and regions and to be governed by the provisions mentioned therein. The 5th Scheduled Areas fall in 9 states of India, where the Governor is fully authorized for protection of land, territory and resources of the Adivasis.

As far as the legal provisions for the Adivasis is concerned, there are many progressive laws introduced in India. Among those, the land related legislations are known as the best protective laws for the Adivasis. For instance, the section 46(b) of the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act 1908 prohibits the transfer[18] of the Adivasi’s land to a non-Adivasi person, the section 71(a) provides an opportunity for restoration of the illegally transferred land and the section 71(b) has provision for penalty as imprisonment for three years in the cases of illegal transfer[19]. Similarly, the section 20 of the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act 1949 bars the transfer of Adivasi’s land to the non-Adivasi and it also provides an opportunity for restoration of the illegally transferred land[20]. In the state of Chhattisgarh, the Section 170 (b) of the Chhattisgarh Land Revenue Code, 1959, bars the sale of tribal agricultural land to non-tribals in order to protect their[21]. Similarly, in the state of Odisha, the Odissa Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property Regulation, 1956, which was amended in 2002 strongly, prohibits[22] the sale of an Adivasi’s land to a non-Adivasi person.

The illegally transfer of the Adivasi’s land to a non-Adivasi person is also a criminal offence under the section 3(iv) and (v) of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes (prevention) of Atrocity Act 1989. According to the provisions, wrongfully occupation or cultivation of any land owned by, or allotted to, or notified by any competent authority to be allotted to a member of a Scheduled Tribe or gets the land allotted to him transferred. And wrongfully dispossessing a member of Scheduled Tribe from his land or premises or interfering with the enjoyment of his rights over any land, premises or water are punishable offence[23].

In pursuance of the power given by the Parliament under article 243M (4) of the Constitution, ‘The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996’ (PESA) has been enacted extending the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution relating to Panchayats to the Scheduled Areas with some exceptions and modifications as provided under section 4 of the PESA. The major provisions are made under section 4(a), the 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 resources; (d) every Gram Sabha 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; (i) the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be consulted before making the acquisition of land in the Scheduled Areas for development projects and before re-settling or rehabilitating persons affected by such projects in the Scheduled Areas; the actual planning and implementation of the projects in the Scheduled Areas shall be coordinated at the State level; (k) the recommendations of the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be made mandatory prior to grant of prospecting licence or mining lease for minor minerals in the Scheduled Areas; (l) the prior recommendation of the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be made mandatory for grant of concession for the exploitation of minor minerals by auction; (m)(iii) the power to prevent alienation of land in the Scheduled Areas and to take appropriate action to restore any unlawful alienated land of a Scheduled Tribe[24];

The power of Gram Sabha (village council) under the PESA 1996 and Forest Rights Act 2006 was legitimated by the Supreme Court of India through its judgment pronounced in a writ petition (civil) No. 180 of 2011 between the Orissa Mining Corporation Versus Ministry of Environment & Forest & Others regarding the case of Niyamgiri hill of Odisha. The Apex Court states that the ‘Gram Sabha’ is the competent authority to decide regarding the village affair. The Court said that the Act has been enacted, as already stated, to provide for the extension of the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution relating to Panchayats to the Scheduled Areas. Section 4(d) of the Act says that every Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the traditions, customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and community mode of dispute resolution. Therefore, Grama Sabha functioning under the Forest Rights Act read with Section 4(d) of PESA Act has an obligation to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the STs and other forest dwellers, their cultural identity, community resources etc., which they have to discharge following the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs vide its letter dated 12.7.2012. We are, therefore, of the view that the question whether STs and other TFDs, like Dongaria Kondh, Kutia Kandha and others, have got any religious rights i.e. rights of worship over the Niyamgiri hills, known as Nimagiri, near Hundaljali, which is the hill top known as Niyam-Raja, have to be considered by the Gram Sabha.

The forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers are integral to the very survival and sustainability of the forest ecosystem. A great injustice has been done by not recognising their rights over their ancestral forest lands and their habitats either during the colonial period or in independent India. It was in order to undo the injustice that the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 also known as the Forest Right Act was enacted. The Forest Rights Act envisages, the recognising, recording, and vesting the forest rights and occupation in forest land with the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers; it providing a framework for recording the forest rights so vested and the nature of evidence required for such recognition and vesting in respect of forest land; and Strengthening the conservation regime of the forests while ensuring livelihood and food security of the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers.

The land acquisition was officially done for the development projects by the British Indian government after introduction of the ‘Land Acquisition Act 1894’, which has provisions for acquisition, compensation and also de-acquisition of the unutilized land. The sections – 4, 5, 6, 16 and 17 has provisions regarding the public notification for acquisition, public hearing and acquisition, the sections – 11, 32 and 34 contain the provision regarding compensation and section–48 (1) has provision for de-acquisition, which states that the ‘government shall be at liberty to withdraw from the acquisition of any land of which possession has not been taken’[25]. However, the said Act was repealed with the enforcement of the ‘Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013’ by the Indian Government. The Act contains additional provisions for the Scheduled Tribes. The section 41 (1) strongly advocates for avoiding acquisition in the Scheduled Areas. It states that as far as possible, no acquisition of land shall me made in the Scheduled Area[26]. However, in case of acquisition or alienation of any land in scheduled areas, the prior consent of the concerned Gram Sabha or the Gram Panchayats or the Autonomous District Councils in all case of land acquisition including urgency, at the appropriate level should be obtained. The affected families should be rehabilitated in preferably are with the compact block to retain ethnic, linguistic and cultural identity[27].

Land Grab in Kalinganagar:

Kalinganagar is one of the emerging industrial cities of India located under Sukinda and Danagadi development blocks of Jajpur district in the state of Orissa. It is about 100 kilometers far from the state capital, Bhubaneswar, and about 30-40 km from the district headquarter. Just two decades ago it was an area covered with paddy field and forest[28]. The region is also rich in iron ore mineral resource, which is center of attraction for the steel companies. Recently, because of high global demand for steel, Kalinganagar is becoming a major global hub in steel, Power and ancillary products. Presently, 15 steel projects are operational in the region. The Government claims that the City has been a main contributor to Odisha’s economy, human resource and fastest growing urbanization and industrialization. Kalinganagar is a major industrial center of Odisha. The Tata Steel Limited, NINL, Jindal, VISA and MESCO are the main key players in Kalinganagar. However, the history of industrialization in India also goes with the pathetic history of bloodshed of the Adivasis, and Kalinganagar is not different from them. On January 2, 2006, police fired on the Adivasis protesting against the forceful land acquisition by the Tata Steel Limited. Consequently, 19 Adivasis lost their lives but finally the Tata Company could able to build its steel plant, which is called the symbol of modern development in India.

Table 1 – Land allotted to Companies

Sl. No. Name of the Companies Land (in acres)
1. Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited 2500
2. Tata Steel Limited 2400
3. Jindal 678
4. Mideast (MESCO) 530
5. Maharashtra Seamless 500
6. Uttam Gala 370
7. Orion 150
8. Maithan Ispat 100
9. VISA Industries 390
10. Dinbandhu 100
11. K.J. Ispat 50
Total 7768

Adivasi in Kalinganagar:

Once upon a time, Kalinganagar was dominated by the Adivasis, but after establishment of a public sector company ‘Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited’ (NINL), non-Adivasi population flooded in the region as they got job and business opportunity in the region. New hotels, restaurents, schools, hospitals and townships were built up. As a result, the Adivasis have lost their livelihood resources, impoverished and becoming minority day by day. According to the Census 2001, Sukinda and Danagadi blocks have Adivasi population of 36.06 per cent and 28.19 per cent respectively. The Adivasi population in the acquired area is much higher than the Block average. Out of the Adivasi population, the people belonging to Ho community constitute nearly 80% and rest of them come from Munda and Santal communities. The economy of the Adivasis is based largly on agriculture, forest produces and cattle rearing.

There is a very interesting oral history behind the Adivasi’s settlement in Kalinganagar region. Actually, the region is known as ‘Sukinda’ because it was undr the regime of the King of Sukinda. It is said that there was a very good friendship between the King of Sukinda and King of Porahat (Jharkhand). The King of Sukinda was lacking the manpower for protection of forest resources therefore, he requested the King of Porahat to send some people to Sukinda. The King of Porahat accepted the request and sent some Adivasis to Sukinda. This is how the Adivasis arrived in the region. After seeing the hard labour, dedication and commitment of the Adivasis, the King was impressed so he decided to settle them in the vicinity. He also gave them some patches of land to the Adivasis. The decedents of those Adivasis even today have land entitlement paper with them, which was given by the King.

Later, many Adivasis arrived in the region after migrating from Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Singhbhum districts in different phases and settled down in the vicinity after clearing forest and bushes. The Madox Settlement Report 1897 also indicates about their settlement. During the British rule, the first land settlement took place in 1928 but most of the land owners were left out. However, after passing the Orissa Estate Abolition Act in 1951, the Estate of King was vested with the government but tenancy rights were not conferred upon the local people who were in possession of land. Meanwhile, the Orissa Survey and Settlement Act of 1958 was enforced, despite the land settlement was not done in the region. Thus, the Adivasis have been fighting for ownership rights over the land because land is not merely livelihood resources for them but their sole identity, culture, history, heritage and existence depend on it.

Industrialisation at Kalinganagar

After the success of Asia’s first integrated steel plant set up by Tata Steel in the undivided Orissa-Bihar-Bengal in 1907, or the employment potential revealed by the Rourkela Steel Plant operated by the state-owned Steel Authority of India, the demand for another mega steel plant in Odisha was very strong in the power of corridor. Thus, the Odisha Government was hunting for the vicinity to development as industrial hub this is how the Kalinganagar came into light. The history of industrialisation of Kaliganagar began with the establishment of the ‘Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) in 1982, which envigages to build the ‘Kalinganagar Industrial Complex’. Thus, the IDCO acquired the land from public, developed infrastructure and given it to various industries for setting up Steel Plants. The process has started from the early 1990s and the ex-CM, late Biju Patanaik, took the lead role in promoting the steel-hub. He had invited first, Swaraj Paul, a NRI British industrialist to set up a steel plant, which did not materialize.

Meanwhile, in 1991, India accepted the liberal economic policy, which accelerated the industrialization processes in the country, resulted in more and more land acquisition of the Adivasis in the name of economic growth and development. In 1992, the Odisha government started land acquisition process for building up ‘Kalinganagr Industrial Complex’. The land owners were offered an amount of from Rs. 15000 to Rs. 30,000 per acre but the Adivasis resisted against it. Meanwhile, some non-Adivasi land owners accepted the offer and surrendred their land. This was the entery poit for the government. Finally, the Government declared 13,000 acres of land mostly owned by the Adivasis as acquired land by using the provision of ‘emineant domain’ under the land acquisition Act 1894 but in reality, the land remained with the land owners. However, out of the acquired land, 6900 acres are declared as private land and rest of the land said to be ‘government land’ because nearly 70% landowners have no entitlement paper though the land is under their possession. Once the land was declared as ‘acquired land’, the bhumi pujan (inauguration) was also done but the project was not started due to massive protest. Meanwhile, the Bhushan Steel & Power Limited and Simlex Company also attempted to acquire but failed due to massive protest of the Adivasis.

Unleasing Brutalities:

In 1997, the Government’s undertaking company “Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited” (NINL) entered into the region. The company started land acquisition process for establishment of an iron & steel company with the proposed production capacity of 1.1 million ton per annum. The company approached the Adivasi for acquisition of 2500 acre of their land by promising them jobs and adequate compensation. When the Adivasi land owners were ready to accept the offer, the company captured the entire land by constructing the boundary wall without delay. Thereafter, 639 houses of Serengsai, Khodyampur, Sarampur, Dokagadiya and Sesakundi village were razed by the Bulldozars. And when the Adivasis protested against forceful land acquisition without compensation and rehabilitation, the police beat the protestors severely and 60 of them arrested. And those people, who were remaining in their houses were dumped into Gobarghati colony, but they were neither given jobs or compensation for seven years against of the promises made while land acquisition. Thus, more than 5000 Adivasis lost their livelihood resources, habitations and became landless. Meanwhile, the Mesco and Jindal established their steel plants by displacing the Land owners. The displaced people were dumped to Trijanga, where 10 decimal homestead land was allotted to each displaced family.

 The Organized Response to the Situation

In 2004, the displaced Adivasis formed an organization called “Bistafan Virodhi JanaManch” (BVJM) (Forum against Displacement) and started protest against the Company. In October 2004 they sent an open letter to the Chief Minister, expressing about their pathetic condition caused by the Kalinganagar Industrial Complex. They also chocked out some major demands – i) stop further construction in agricultural land; ii) giving patta to the people settled before 1980 iii) land acquired, but unused, be returned to the original owners; iv) stop deliberate targeting of tribal/dalit villages for land acquisition; v) the homestead land to be raised to one acre per displaced family; vi) the parishad to have a say in rehabilitation matters; vii) one job per displaced family[29]. After seeing massive protest, the NINL began to provide employment and compensation to the land owners. Though 639 families have been displaced by NINL but merely 182 families have been directly employed in NINL and most of the land owners are still waiting for compensation.

Meanwhile, the Visthapan Virodhi Jana Mancha decided to resist all kinds of activitiesi of the Kalinganagar Industrial Complex ncluding land survey, bhumipuja, levelling and boundary wall construction. They organized protest meetings, demonstrations and rally in Kalinganagar. In April 2005, the government had issued notice to conduct the family survey, which they opposed. On 9th May, 2005 the People strongly opposed the bhumipooja for ‘Maharashtra Seamless’. After hearing about the protest, the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) of Jajpur rushed to the site for negotiating with the people. The local police was already present to provide security to the officials of Maharashtra Seamless. The people reiterated their demands to the ADM and did not move from the place. The ‘ADM, Shri Santanagopalan, in his enthusiasm, ordered lathi-charge and rushed towards the protestors, pushing some of the obstructing women to the ground. At this sudden action of his, which the people saw as a provocation, clashes ensued. People resorted to stone pelting and the vehicle of the ADM was damaged. The ADM was beaten up in the melee[30], and when the Officer-in-Charge of Kalinganagar Police Station tried to save the ADM he too was beaten up; both of them sustained injuries.

Seeing the people’s rage the police retreated from the scene that afternoon, to return later with more reinforcements. They entered the villages and went on a rampage. Fearing retaliation, most of the men folk had fled the villages and taken shelter in the surrounding hillocks. Therefore the brunt of the police fell on the women folk and children. They were roughed up and at least 25 women were arrested. Hearing of the police terror, people from nearby villages also fled their villages and took shelter in the nearby forest. It is alleged that the privations caused the death of two children. Also, an old man, who was severely beaten up by the police, died later.After the 9th May incident, the process of mutual distrust was completed. The tribals, led by the Jana Mancha, felt betrayed by the govt. and perceived the administration as friend of the companies and enemies of the tribal people; the administration, on its part, was taken aback by the vociferous opposition of the hitherto gullible and peaceable. Plausibly, they were planning ways of snuffing out the resistance.

The Bloodbath for Tata Project:

On 17 November, 2004 the government of Odisha and the Tata Steel Limited signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a Greenfield project with the yielding capacity of 6 million ton steel per annum with the investment of Rs.1540 millon. The company requires 6000 acres of land for the proposed project to be built up in two phases of 3-3 milllion ton each. The Odisha government sanctioned 3471.808 acres of land to the company, which was declared ‘acquired land’ for the ‘Kalinganagar Industrial Complex’ in 1992. Out of 3471.808 acres of land, 2755.812 acres of land was said to be acquired from 1195 Adivasi families. The Tata Steel Limited claims that the Adivasi land owners were already compensated in 1992 under the section-34 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 but they were not displaced from the land. Hence, the Tata Company started land acquisition forcefully. In response to the company, the “Bistafan Virodhi Jana Manch” (Forum against Displacement) started mass people’s movement against the forceful land acquisition. Consequently, there was huge tension in the region.

Though the villagers had almost lost their hope of retaining their agricultural land as most of them had no patta (entitlement papers) of the land, therefore, they were ready to accept the compensation. However, there was huge disagreement on the issue of compensation as only those people were compensated, who had patta of the land. ‘This left a huge section of people uncompensated, as they had no patta over the land they possessed[31]. After acquiring the land from people, IDCO has been selling the land to different industries at a much higher price. The Adivasi land owners were angry, precisely, because, the IDCO had sold their land to the Tatas at the rate of Rs.3.5 lakhs per acre[32] and they were paid merely from 15000 to 30000. Most interesting poit to know is ‘taking advantage of non-settlement of land, many influential people had grabbed the Adivasis’ land, by hook or crook, after the area was marked for the industrial complex. According to the report, an ‘ex- Chief Secretary of the state had grabbed 160 acres of land in Kalinganagar through his influence’[33]with the clear intention to bag huge amount of money as compensation package.

Meanwhile, a notice was served to the land owners for the Public Hearing on Tata Steel plant, which was supposed to be held at Jajpur Road on 27th July, 2005. However, on 23rd July 2005, the Tata Company was performing the bhoomipooja in the presence of the District Collector and the Suprintendent of Police[34], which was strongly, protested by 3000 people. Consequently, the bhoomipooja was cancelled and the District Administration responded by lodging cases against some people and their leaders. On 7th October, 2005, the chairman of the Tata Company, Ratan Tata visited to the project site, accompanied by police and district administration for bhoomipooja but the people protested against it.

On 25th October, Rabindra Jarika, one of the leaders of the Jana Mancha, was arrested by the Jajpur police from Bhubaneswar, when he was attending a conference, which was organized by the Adivasi organizations. The manner in which Jarika was arrested had raised serious questions at that time and many organizations, had protested against police highhandedness in this case and the policy of the government to repress all democratic struggles by use of police force. On 27th October people gheraoed the Kalinganagar police station protesting against the arrest of Rabindra Jarika. After protest, the police attempted to arrest the other leaders of the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Manch but failed to do so.

Meanwhile, another steel company ‘Maharashtra Seamless’ also started construction work at its proposed project site. On 17th November, 2005, the people stopped the construction work the Maharashtra Seamless, which had ripple impact in the region. The people’s movement was gaining the momentum and the mood of the people was unbeatable. However, the District Administration didn’t give up and had been trying to take over the land for the Tata Company. On 23rd December, 2005, rumors started flying across the villages that the district administration and the company may try to take over the land soon. Therefore, the VVJM conveyed the message to the district administration again that such a move of the administration would force them to resist until death.

 Massive Bloodbath for Development:

On January 1st, 2006, the Adivasis came to know through a ‘leak in the administration that the Tata Company would initiate boundary wall construction on 2nd January, 2006 without taking the consent[35] of the land owners, which fuelled the anger. Hence, they decided to oppose the attempt and spread the information across the region. Since, the Tata Company was well planned to start the construction work, therefore, the district administration had deployed heavy security in the proposed project site at Champakoil Nuaugaon in Kalinga Nagar industrial area. On 2nd January, 2006, the district administration of Jajpur district including the ‘District Magistrate and the Suprintendent of Police, and TATA Steel officials reached to the site with the earthleveling machines, and started the land leveling and construction of the boundary wall[36]. The team was escorted by 12 platoons of armed police armed with sophisticated weapons.

As per the plan, the Adivasis gathered near the project site carrying their traditional weapon i.e. bows, arrows and axes. After seeing the construction work, the Adivasis got angry. However, they formed a delegation of four members, who went to meet the district administration and rest of them were waiting at a distance. When the district administration denied hearing their plea, they went to stop the construction work.  As soon as they reached near the foundation trench of the boundary wall, a police man blew the whistle and there was an explosion without warning from the police. Thereafter, tear gas, firing of rubber bullet and actual firing started simultaneously. ‘Chaos ensued, with people running helter and skelter. Even the unarmed local policemen panicked at the firing and the explosions, and people say that in this panic one or two policemen fell into the boundary wall ditch and were injured by the tribals in the heat of the moment.

On hearing the sound of explosions and firing, more tribals from the nearby settlements rushed to the site and started stone pelting and firing arrows inspite of the continuos firing by the police[37]. Consequently, 12 protestors including 2 women and one 14-year boy died at the spot and 37 people got sever injuries. The police brutality didn’t end here; the dead bodies were also chopped off. Finally, the police took the dead bodies for postmortem and when the deadbodies were handed over to the Adivasis, they found that the breast of women and ‘palms of five persons were chopped off[38], which fueled the anger of the protestors. They strongly protested against the police brutality. On 4th January, 2006, mass cremation was held at Ambagadia village and they declared the place as “Veer Bhoomi” (land of martyres).

Table 2 – List of Adivasis died in Police Firing

Sl. No. Name Village Age Sex
1. Landu Jarika Bamiagotha 29 Male
2. Ramachandra Jamuda Bamiagotha 35 Male
3. Junga Jarika Bamiagotha 25 Male
4. Gobinda Laguri Bamiagotha 14 Male
5. Rama Gagarai Gadapur 35 Male
6. Bana Badra Gadapur 35 Male
7. Mukta Bankira Chandia 40 Female
8. Rangalal Mundei Baligotha 40 Male
9. Ati Jamuda Chandia 32 Male
10. Deogi Tiria Champakoila 35 Female
11. Sudam Barla Belhudi 25 Male
12. Bhagaban Soy Gobarghati 25 Male

The police firing intensified the mass movement against the Tata Company. Since, the media gave huge coverage to the indicent therefore, just after 5 days of this shocking incident a State-wide shutdown (Orissa Bandh) was observed on 7th January 2006 with an exemplary success, with firm solidarity shown through token Bandhs in the tribal pockets of neighbouring states of Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh. The National-level leaders from all political parties, right, left or centrist including the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh, Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha Supremo Mr.Shibu Soren visited the site at Gobar Ghati called by then Bir Bhoomi (the land of heroes), where the victims of police firing had been cremated and conveyed their sympathies to the local community. A storm of protest swept across the region and country.

Meanwhile, the Visthapan Virodhi Jana Manch called off an economic blockade on Daitary-Paradip National Highway was put up and maintained right from the day of incident 2nd January 06 till 9th March, 2007, that is to say, for more than 14 months at a stretch, by far the longest of its kind. The Jana Manch lifted the blockade only after the Orissa High Court intervened and the State Chief Minister showed a conciliatory response to the set of demands that the Visthapan Birodhi Jana Manch had put forth. As a condition for lifting the 14 months long road blockade the VVJM had demanded that the administration won’t use force under any pretext to evict them from their land; that the Tatas must not start construction work without their consent; and that a dialogue to explore an alternative to displacement ought to continue. The Chief Minister formally agreed to their demands in writing on March 8, 2007, and the letter was read out to the protestors and their leaders in Kalinganagar. It was only then that the people decided to withdraw the blockade with the declaration that if the government reneged on its promises the blockade would be back on track again.

Tricks of Trade:

However, after few months when the situation was normalized, the Tata Company started listing out of unemployed Adivasi youth and lured them with money. The Agents of the Company started visiting to the villages and convincing the Youth. And when they were able to trap some Adivasis youth, they intensified their work to convince the villagers to surrender their land for the project. The best example to judge is one can find latest vehicles i.e. Bolero, Pazero, Scorpio, etc parked in front of the house of many Adivasi youth who work for the Tata company. Meanwhile, the Tata Company also got huge support from the district police and administration. The Police opened a local police post near the project spot to facilitate the land acquisition. The police started coercive action against the protestors. Firstly, the police threatened the protestors to stop opposing the project or face dire consequences. When the protestors denied obeying the Police’s order, a case with the charge of murder was filed against 8 leaders of the Movement and they were arrested. Secondly, another case was filed against five leaers of being the members of the Naxal organization the CPI-Maoist and they were also arrested. The police also started threatening to all the protestors. They were arrested from Market, Homes or ponds. Thus, 120 protestors were put behind the bars. The police told the protestors that if they stop opposing the project, the cases would be lifted from them and they would be released. The leaders of the political parties were also used to convince the people for surrendering their land.

The District Magistrat, Suprintendent of Police and Deputy Suprintendent of Police of Jajpur district were also visiting to the vicinity frequently to convince the protestors. They also used to threaten them. The leader of the Movement Chakdhar Haibrue was asked to visit guest house many times and told that he should stop the movment otherwise he would be taught a lesion and when he was not ready to accept it, he was put behind the bars. The district police and administration unleased the brutalities. Consequently, the villagers became helpless as most of their leaders were put behind the bars. Finally, they had no option than to surrender their land. Thus, 5000 Adivasis of Sanchandiya, Baiburu, Champakoya -1, Kalamati, Chandia, Baligotha, Gobarghati, Bamiagotha, Champakoya-2, Ambagadia, Sasogotha, Gadapur and Bandgadia village were displaced. Their villages were razed by Bulldozars and the Adivasis were dumped in the transit colonies. However, the company claims that the Adivasis voluntarily surrendered their land and became the member of the Tata family. Later on 7 injured protestors also died. Thus, 19 Adivasi protestors lost their lives while protesting against the Tata Company.

Impact of the Project:

The impact of the mega steel projects can be seen in the lives of the displaced Adivasis.  Those families, who were displaced by the NINL rehabilitated in the Gobarghati colony. It would be very interesting to know that merely 120 families out of 639 displaced families of Khandiapusi, Madhapur and Sarangpur villages were  rehabilitated in the colony and about 70 per cent of those, who have not come to settle in the colony have opted for Rs. 50,000/- as cash compensation instead of  10 decimal homestead land at rehabilitation colony. A large section of the displaced families chose not to come to the resettled colony because of lack of livelihood in the vicinity. The people, who are staying in the colony, only 25 families have got employment in NINL. The remaining families go to work in the stone crushers located at a distance of 15 kilometers as daily wage labourer and earning meager amount of Rs. 40-50/- per day. These displaced families, although living as daily wage earners, have not been considered as BPL families. 5 tube wells have been installed and two of them not working. Inside the colony, roads are also of murram and get washed away in the rainy season. There is one primary school in the colony. Electricity connection has been provided up to the colony but people are not in a position to afford for it. There is no Primary Health Centre in the colony and nearest PHC is located at about 20 Kilometers. The displaced families, although resettled since 1997, have not been provided with patta for their homestead land. The families, who surrendered their land for the Tata project, also became daily wage labourers. The women and children adopted selling of liquor. There, are nearly 200 liquor shops near the Tata steel plant.

 The vision against People:

The Odisha state government has vision to extend the ‘Kalinganagar Industrial Area (KIA) to 177 square kilometers by 2025[39] with the investment of Rs. 6613 million. In this connection, Lea Associates of South Asia in association with the School of Planning and Architect, New Delhi and the Centre for Environment and Planning (CEPT) presented a vision document to the Chief Minister of Odisha for the development of Kalinganagar Industrial Area. The Odisha government believes that the Kalinganagar Industrial complex has been a true realization of the socio-economic dream that would lead the State into a new era of prosperity. A draft of the Comprehensive Development Plan of Kalinga Nagar Development Plan Area would include 161 nos of village i.e. 20 villages of Vyasanagar Municipality, 41 villages of Sukinda Tahasil, 65 villages of Danagadi Tahasil, 29 villages of Vyasanagar Tahasil and 6 villages of Rasulpur Tahasil covering an area of 458.78 kilometeres[40]. Consequetnly, there would be huge displacement of the Adivasis and other local land owners.

 Conclusion:

The Adivasis are the Indigenous People of India, who have unique tradition, culture and identity. However, the Indian goverment did not recognize their indigenous status, neglected them in terms of development and denied their rights.The Adivasis are constitutionally known as the Scheduled Tribes, whose economy is completely based on agro-forestry. They do not rely on the natural resources merely for their livelihood, but their sole identity, culture, history, autonomy and existence depend on it. Though enough provisions have been made in the Indian Constitution and the government has also introduced several progressive laws for safeguarding the Adivasis including their land, territory and resources. Despite that their rights are grossly violated and they are being alienated, displaced and dispossessed from their land, territory and resources in the name of development, economic growth and interest of the Nation. The Adivasis’ territory is under unrest.

Today, the meaning of development and economic growth in India is as simple as handing over the natural resources into the hands of corporate sharks. And the governments of those states, who are rapidilty doing it are called the emerging state. For instance, the state of Chhattisgarh and Odisha are at the first and second position in the list and these states are being called the emerging states, where the resource grab is rampant. The liberalisation of the India’s economic policy to exelarate the industrialisation processes have resulted in massive resource grab of the Adivasis. However, when they exercise their right to freedom of expression to protect their land, territory and resources, their voices are suppressed with the mighy power of the state. Thus, the development and economic growth of the Nation have become a nightmare for the Indigenous Peoples of India instead of prosperity.

The modern development projects have impoverished disempowered and marginalized the Adivasis. However, the Indian State has been accelerating the processes of industrialisation in the 5th Scheduled Areas despite massive bloodbath and Kalinganagar is a witness to it. The former President of India, Dr. K.R. Narayana, while addressing to the Nation on the eve of the 52nd Republic Day of India on 26th January, 2001, strontly warned the nation saying, “The developmental path we have adopted is hurting them and threatening their very existence. Let it not be said of India that this great Republic in a hurry to develop itself is devastating the green mother earth and uprooting our tribal populations.” Unfortunately, India seems to be in so hurry to build its development mansion, even if it has to be built over the deadbodies of the Adivasis.

Bibliography & Reference:

Areeparampil, Mathew 1995. Tribal of Jharkhand victim of Development. New Delhi: ISI.

Ekka, Alex 2003. Jharkhand: Displacement and Rehabilitation. New Delhi: ISI.

Anjum, Arvind & Manthan.    2002. Displacement & Rehabilitation. Pune: NCAS.

Ahmad, Nesar. 2003. Women, Mining and Displacement. New Delhi: ISI

Tejaswini and K. Ashsish. 2000. Joint Protected Area Management. Pune: Kalpavriksh.

Bijoy, C.R. 2004. Lesson from Muthanga.pp 25 – 27.

Bakshi, P.M. 2002. The Constitution of India. New Delhi: ULP.

Dungdung, Gladson. 2013. Whose Country is it Anyway? Adivaaani:Kolkata.

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Das, Vishya. 1992. Conservation, Government and Tribal people.

WPW (Mumbai) March. Pp 567.

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Desai, Basant. 1991. Forest management in India. New Delhi : HPGH.

Das, N.K. (Compiled)             2003. The Orissa forest manual. Cuttack: OLR.

Das, Susanta.                          2004. Orissa forest Act, 1972. Cuttack: OLR.

Fernandes, Walter (ed.)           1992. National development and tribal deprivation. ND: ISI.

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———————– (ed.)         1996. Drafting a people’s forest bill. New Delhi: ISI.

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Heramath, S.R. (ed.)               1997.  Forest lands and Forest produce. Bangalore: NCPNR.

Joshi, Sopan.                           2003. Defunct Democracy. Down to Earth. (Mumbai) July 31.

  1. Govind and Nathan Dev. 1991. Gender and Tribe. New Delhi: Kali for Women.

Krishnakumar, R.                    2003. A conflict in the forest. Frontline (Chennai) March.

Louis, Prakash.                       2000. Marginalisation of tribals. EPW (Mumbai) Nov. 18.

Lobo, Brain.                            2004. Unequal access to justice. Combat Law(Mumbai)Dec-Jan

Munda, R.D. & Mullick,S.B.  2003. The Jharkhand Movement. New Delhi:IWGIA& BIRSA.

Prabhu, Pradeep.                     2002. Tribal face genocide. Combat Law (Mumbai) Oct.

——————–                     2004. Tribal interface-logic of survival. CL (M) Dec-Jan.

Pathak, Neema and                  2001. Tribal self-rule and natural resource management.

Gour, Vivek.                           New Delhi: Kalpavriksh & IIED.

Rajagopal, PV.                        2002. Voice of hope voice for change. Pune: NCAS.

Ramagundam, Rahul.              2001. Defeated Innocence. New Delhi: Grassroots India.

Samuel, John.  (ed.)                 2002. Struggle for Survival. Pune: NCAS.

———————-                   1998. Triple burden. Humanscape (Mumbai) Dec. Pp 12-13.

Sharma, B.D.                          2003. Forest Lands. New Delhi. Sahyog Pustak Kutir Trust.

Thundyle, Jacub   (Com.)        2002. Creating Voice for Indigenous People.Chennai: NACDIP

Thapar, Romesh.                     1977. Tribe caste and religion in India. ND: Macmillan India Ltd.

Yorke, Micheal and Rao, J.     1977. Tribe of India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Iyer, Manishanker.                  2010. Missing the woods, the trees. New Delhi. HT May 20. 

[1] Dungdung, Gladson. 2013. Whose Country is it Anyway? Adivaaani:Kolkata.

[2] Dungdung, Gladson. 2010. Adivasis struggle against displacement in Jharkhand in a book entitled Adivasis at the Crossroads in India edited by Topio Tamminen published by the Swallows of Finland.

[3] Recommentations for High Level Committee on the status of Tribal in India published by the Actionaid, India 2014.

[4] Ibid.

[5] [5] The Supreme Court order on the SLP (Cr) No. 10367 of 2010 Kailas & others Vs State of Maharashtra.

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Joshi, Sopan. 2003. Defunct Democracy. Down to Earth (Mumbai) July 31. pp. 26.

[9] Prabhu, Pradeep. 2004. Tribal Interface-Logic of survival. Combat Law (Mumbai) Dec-Jan. pp. 6.

[10] Dungdung, Gladson. 2013. Whose Country is it anyway? Adivaani:Kolkata.

[11] http://wesanthals.tripod.com/id50.html a portal for Santals Freedom Struggle

[12] Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Development Projects vs. Internally Displaced Populations in India:

A Literature Based Appraisal, February 2011, p. 6

[13] Idid.

[14] “NAC’s seven-point test for land acquisition bill”. The Hindu (Chennai, India). 10 June 2011

[15] Ibid.

[16] The Constitution of India published in 2007 by the Ministry of Law and Justice (Government of India).

[17] Ibid.

[18] The Chhotanagpur Land Tenancy Act, 1908.

[19] The Bihar Scheduled Areas Regulation Act, 1969.

[20] The Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act 1949.

[21] The Chhattisgarh Land Revenue Code, 1959.

[22] The Odisha Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property Regulation, 1956

[23] The Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes (prevention) of Atrocity Act 1989.

[24] ‘The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996.

[25] The Land Acquisition Act 1894 published in the Gazette of India.

[26] The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Dummett, Mark. 2006. Battle over Indian steel mills. Kalinga Nagar:BBC News.

[29] ‘Police Firing at Kalinganagar’ a report prepared by the People’s Union for Civil Liverties, Odisha.

[30] Ibid.

[31] ‘Police Firing at Kalinganagar’ a report prepared by the People’s Union for Civil Liverties, Odisha.

[32] Ibid.

[33] ‘Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] http://www.countercurrents.org/hr-im060106.htm

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Patnaik, Lalmohan. 2012. Twist to Kalinganagar firing row. Telegraph:Bhubneshwar, June 30.

[39] http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/Rs-66-thousand-crore-plan-to-develop-Kalinga-Nagar-into-mega-complex/2013/07/24/article1699192.ece

[40] Ibid.

Interview

Let’s rebuild our Adivasi society : Gladson Dungdung

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Gladson Dungdung is an Activist, Writer and Motivator. He is the author of “Ulgulan Ka Sauda”. He comes from the Indigenous community of Jharkhand. His family was displaced during the construction of Kelaghagh Dam situated at Simdega and his parents were brutally murdered in 1990 when he was only 12 years old therefore he had to undergo through a long struggle. Finally, he could complete the Post Graduate in Human Rights from IIHR, New Delhi and 18 months Internship Programme in Public Advocacy from the National Centre for Advocacy Studies, Pune. He is associated with the various People’s movements. Lovio Kujur talked to him. Excerpt from the interview.

Livio: Johar Gladson, welcome to joharadivasi.org and thank you for sparing your time to be with us… please tell us something about yourself.

Gladson: Thank you Livio. I belong to Kharia Adivasi community. I come from a village called Lathakhamhan situated at 20 kilometers in south from the district headquarter of Simdega. I have one elder brother and two elder sisters. Our sufferings begin from the ‘Kelaghgh dam’, which is the most beautiful dam constructed on Chhinda river in Simdega district of Jharkhand. A village called Bernibera was my ancestral village situated at a distance of 5 kilometers in the eastern part of Simdega and close to the Dam. We are one of those unfortunate victims of Bernibera village faced displacement while construction of Kelaghagh Dam. My family was well-off as my grandfather, Jakarias Kharia had 20 acres of fertile land in the village and he was also working as a teacher in a government primary school. He had also purchased another 10 acres of land in a village called Lathakhamhan, where he used to teach is a school with a dream of making a good life for his two sons by settling them in two different places so that there would be no chances of any conflict between them. But his dream was washed away by the dam. The land of Bernibera village was submerged in the dam and he was given merely Rs. 11,000 as compensation for 20 acre of land.

Finally, we had no option than settling down in Lathakhamhan village, where we had 10 acres of land. The land of Lathakhamhan village was divided between two brothers-my elder father Mangaldas and my father Isaac, which led to a huge division in the family. Though Mangaldas survived because he got the government job as teacher in place of my grandfather but we suffered the most as we had no alternative. All these happened when I was just one year old. The conflict in family increased for the property day by day which lead to the brutal killing of my parents in 1990. We all kids left the village and lived with our relatives in different places. As usual they started treating us like servants. I was put in an Adivasi Hostel in Simdege in free of cost. But my batch mates started humiliating. Then I left hostel and went back to my village, where I lived with my uncle. Somehow I completed my matriculation but unable to get admission in college due to lack of Rs. 250. Consequently, I lost two valuable years. I migrated to Patna and started serving tea, cleaning office and toilet. I got my first salary Rs. 500 in November 2005. It was amazing! I got admission in college but never attended as I had no time for it. The survival was my first question to address. Finally, I completed graduation and also had a huge experience of working with social change organization. Once I was also caught by the People’s War Group and they locked me in a room but after a long discussion they liberated me. In between I learnt typing, computer and project management. In 2002, I was selected for an internship programme on public advocacy in Pune. I was shocked on the first day as the lecture was in English and you hardly get one Hindi book in the library. I thought that I may not survive in the institution but knew that this was the only opportunity to change my life and the opportunity never comes twice. That night I decided to do hard work – day and night. I planned well and followed it up. Just after three month, I wrote an article on the issue of discrimination in English “the bird called equality”. The Indian Currents has published it. There were huge compliments and praise for me from the all corners; I went far ahead from my batch-mates, who had come from the bigwig English medium colleges. I did a research on impact of forest policies on tribal people of Orissa thereafter I got many job offers from the international organizations but I wanted to work for my people in Jharkhand therefore returned to Jharkhand. I have done 450 fact findings on police atrocities and human rights violation. I have trained 2000 professionals on Human Rights including Police Officers, Lawyers, Journalists, Teachers, Doctors, Psychiatrists, Elected Representatives and Social Activists. I have also written about 200 articles (in Hindi and English) on the issues of Indigenous rights, displacement, Human Rights, land alienation and social change published by various leading dailies, weeklies and web portals.

Livio: You witnessed the construction of Kelaghagh Dam situated at Simdega and were displaced, tell us how or what inspired you to carry on the education.

Gladson: I belong to a well-educated family. My grandfather was a teacher and well known social activist as well. Later, my father’s elder brother also became teacher and my father was selected for the Air Force but my grandmother didn’t like him to go for it therefore he opted a job in the Block Development office. Since, we had 30 acres of agricultural land in two places (before the construction of Kelaghagh Dam); my father left his job and went for the cultivation as per suggestion made by his elder brother. But unfortunately, the tide turned after the construction of Kelaghagh Dam and the well-off family was washed away. My parents knew that only the education can bring back us in the right track again therefore they suffered a lot to ensure our basic needs till they were alive. They had built up the foundation in our minds and behaviours. Therefore, I suffered a lot without parents but my target was to complete my education and I was aware that only education can change my life so I did it.

Livio: Now that you are a Human Rights Activist, tell us something what exactly Human Rights Activist means in simple language?

Gladson: See, the Human Rights was made global on 10th December, 1948 after the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Then, it was decided that all the members’ county must incorporate the UDHR in their constitutions. The basic Human Rights in India are rights to live, right to freedom, right to equality and right to dignity of individual guaranteed by the Constitution of India (in Preamble, the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principle of the State Policy), embodied in the international covenants (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1976 and International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights 1976) and enforceable in the Courts of India. The people who work for the protection and promotion of Human Rights are called as Human Rights Activists. The one who wants to become a human rights activist, the person must have to be well equipped about the human rights, international standards and domestic laws. It is very challenging because often you must face the police, the bureaucrats and bigwigs as they are the most human rights violators as well as law enforcement agencies.

Livio: You have written a book “Ulgulan Ka  Sauda”, tell us something about it.

Gladson: This book is all about displacement. The focus is on the steel giant Arcelor Mittal, who has signed a MoU with the Jharkhand government for establishing 12 Mt Steel Plant at Torpa- Kardara region near Ranchi. The company requires 25,000 acres of land and 20,000 Unit water per hour for the plant, which means a Dam will also come up with the steel plant at Koel-Karo rivers, which has witnessed 30 years of people’s struggle, where 8 people had died in police firing. If the steel plant comes up 265 villages will be displaced. Munda, Kharia and Orao Adivasis will pay the price of development but where will they go? What happened in Jamshedpur? It was also an Adivasi dominated area but after establishment of the Tata Steel, the Adivasis disappeared. Where they went? You won’t find them.

The book exposes that how the Arcelor Mittal Company is playing tricks for acquiring the land of Adivasis. The book also talks about why Adivasis are resisting against displacement across the state. It also gives a road map for the development of Jharkhand. My argument is since the land belongs to our ancestors, who are we to sell if. If we are selling our land for the profit means, we are also selling our ancestors. How can we do that? Birsa Munda, Talka Manjhi and Sidhu-Kanhu fought to save the land, territory and resources but our so-called Adivasi leaders like Arjun Munda, Babulal Marnadi and Madhu Koda sold the land to the corporate houses merely for the profit. Where are we the Adivasi people heading towards? Is our glorious history of struggle over?

Livio: Any message for the joharadivasi.org readers?

Gladson: Let’s rebuild our Adivasi society, which is based on community living, co-existence with the nature, collective decision making, non-profit and equality for all. Now, the world is heading towards a critical situation therefore we must show a road map of inclusive development to the so-called developed people, whose development theories are based on exploitation, injustice and against the nature. Friends, you may have a very good education, an inspiring job, an amazing life partner, a beautiful house and a wonderful car but do you know the most of our Adivasis brothers and sisters cannot get good education, their lands are taken away, their houses are broken, they don’t have jobs and they are left to die. Who will think for them? If you don’t bother about your own people, mind you nobody will. They need our support. Do whatever you can do for the empowerment of our people. Surely, you can be a change maker. But will you?

Livio: Thank you Gladson for sparing your precious time to be with us, we wish you all the best for your work and activity that you are doing for the development of our community.

Gladson: It was really a great opportunity to interact with you. Thank you so much.

Note: The interview was taken in 2009. Source: www.joharadivasi.org

Ground Report

Land Grab in Kochang

By Gladson Dungdung

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He was alone from Kochang village in the crowd of more than 2000 Adivasis, gathered in Sarvada, which was one of the centers during the Birsa Revolt popularly known as “Birsa Ulgulan”. Kochang was defamed worldwide for gang rape and its so-called connection with Pathalgari Movement last year. Since then, every Adivasi of the village is under surveillance, therefore, they don’t go anywhere in a group. As per the Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, the right to freedom of expression, movement and assembly is fundamental rights of everyone in the country and the State is duty bound to protect, promote and secure these rights. However, the same rights come under the purview of anti-State activities here and anyone can be booked under the sedition charges for their involvement in such activities.

On December 9, 2018, the man had come to tell us about the story of land grab in Kochang but he didn’t dare to unfold the story in the mass meeting due to fear of being victimised by the State. He apprehends of paying the price for exposing the land grab because many police informers were also present in the meeting. He assumes that he might be falsely accused of being the part of Pathalgari Movement and thrown behind the bars. But he was unable to control his emotions. Perhaps, he thought that it may be unfair to return his village without unfolding the matter of land grab. After hearing my speech patiently, he came to me and said that he wants to tell me something about Kochang but of course, not in public. I was eager to know as I already had a document of Kochang land grab, therefore, we went to a corner. He narrated the whole story and I heard him patiently.

The story is that after so much of hue and cry on the ‘Pathalgari Movement’, which is one of the autonomous movements of Adivasis in Jharkhand, the land grab has begun in the Mundas’ territory. The State has been busy in establishing the permanent security camps in the region so that the grabbing of land and mineral resources for the corporate sharks could be started. Needless to say that the security forces will be used to suppress the dissent voices during the corporate resources grab. The State has been facilitating the natural resource grab using all the possible ways and means. For instance, the consent of the Gram Sabha is must for land acquisition in the Fifth scheduled areas but the government has hijacked the power of Gram Sabha. The case of Kurun and Kochang villages unfolds it.

On 23 October 2018, the Circle Officer (CO) of Arki Circle Office issued a notice for conducting Gram Sabha’s meetings in Kurun and Kochang village on 29th and 30th October 2018, subsequently. The letter reads, “A notification letter issued by the Superintendent of Police, Khunti regarding the land acquisition for the construction of community halls in Kurung and Kochang is received, and the dates for the meetings of Gram Sabhas have been fixed on 29th and 30th subsequently, therefore, the presence of every of Gram Sabha member is must.”

The Adivasis of Kochang and Kurung question that how can the CO fix the dates and issue the notices for conducting the Gram Sabhas’ meetings? Who has authorized him to do so? How did he get such power and authority to order us for conducting the Gram Sabha’s meetings? The Deputy Commission of Khunti was out of the scene and the prime role was assigned to the Superintendent of Police, Khunti. Therefore, villagers also question the role of SP. Has the government changed the role of SP from the law and order to rural development? If the SP will look after the law and order and deal with the affairs of rural development, then what will the Deputy Commissioner do?

It would be very interesting to know that there are community halls in both the villages therefore, the villagers doubt whether the SP is going to build community halls or police camps in thier villages? According to the letter, 2.47 acres of land will be acquired in each village for the community hall, which raises a serious question. What kind of community hall the SP is going to build? As per the present practices, 15 to 20 decimal land is acquired for the construction of a community hall, which is more than enough, and of course, there is no such community hall in any village in Jharkhand, which is built on such massive land of 2.47 acres.

The fact is that the government has planned to build permanent security camps in both the villages to serve the vested interest. However, the policy makers know that Gram Sabhas will never give NOC for the land acquisition for setting up the permanent police camps in the villages. Therefore, a trick was played in the name of community hall. Fortunately, the Adivasis understood the trick instantly. They also know that as per the PESA Act 1996, only the village head can call for a meeting of Gram Sabha, still they followed the government order to understand it in depth.

After issuing notice, the police started threatening the villagers. On 29 October 2018, Khunti police picked up Sukhram Soy, village head of Kochang from the market, when he was having breakfast in a roadside hotel. He was taken to Khunti police station. The police officers threatened him to book under sedition charges if he doesn’t agree for the land acquisition. They said that they will send him behind the bars in a false case regarding his involvement in Pathalgari Movement. He was released from the police station at 11pm. The State has been using the ‘Pathalgari’ to punish the dissents. For instance, 20 activists, writes and students were booked under sedition charges. Among these, some of them had merely shared some of my articles regarding the Pathalgari Movement on their Facebook walls. Interestingly, the State violates the laws but the Adivasis are booked and imprisoned under the sedition charges. The Adivasis have been struggling for survival in their own country.

It was the peak hour of harvesting season, still the villages of Kurung and Kochang gathered for the Gram Sabhas’ meetings on 29th and 30th following the CO’s order. They thought that the denial of the CO’s order may have adverse affect on them as more than 60 village headmen and common Adivasis are already in prison on the allegation of being the members of Pathalgari Movement. But neither the CO nor the SP or other officers arrived for the meetings. One full day was wasted but who will pay wage to the Adivasis for it?

Interestingly, on November 1st, 2018, the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Arki Police Station arrived by his vehicle with some police constables having guns in their hands and ‘Saris and Dhotis (cloths for men and women) in the vehicle. They started distributing ‘Saris and Dhotis’ among the people, who were present in the small market near Kochang village. They also gave Saris and Dhotis to those, who were grazing their cattle near the village. They asked the beneficiaries to put their signature or thumb impression on some blank papers. The OC was extremely pleased for accomplishing the work. Perhaps, he thought that the grabbing of the Adivasis’ land is one of the easiest task on the Earth. Adivasis can be fooled with a piece of cloth or ‘Haria’ (traditional drink) with chicken. But is it so? Of course, Not. However, he was overwhelmed.

On the next day, he converted the blank papers as the consent papers of Gram Sabhas for land acquisition and sent it to the SP. The man told me that none of those who have singed or impressed their thumbs on blank papers after receiving ‘Saris and Dhotis’ belong to Kochang village. I just laughed thinking that what will happen to the OC when the SP would come to know about the truth? Is OC made himself fool while fooling the Adivasis? But who will reveal the truth? Will the mainstream media take any interest on it, who tirelessly misinterpreted the autonomous movement of Adivasis while reporting about the Pathalgari?

The case of Kochang exposes that how the biggest democracy on the Earth, has been suffering from the democratic deficit. Is democracy alive in our country anymore? I would say that the capitalism has already assassinated the democracy long ago. How can the democracy be alive when the PESA Act 1996 passed by the Indian Parliament is kept aside to serve the vested interest? The PESA Act recognizes and legitimates the Gram Sabha as supreme authority of a village located in the fifth Schedule area.

Indeed, one can also say that the corporate houses have hijacked the Indian democracy because they fund the political parties and spend countless money during the elections, which is actually the investment for them similar like they invest in a share market. And after formation of the government, they harvest it. That’s why the government(s) amend the safeguarding laws made for Adivasis to serve the corporate interests. Kochang land grab is enough to prove that the State has been facilitating the land and resource grab. The man who told me about the Kochang land grab, went back to his village but no one knows how long he would be safe. He has invited me to visit Kochang but I’m not sure whether I’ll meet him in his village, somewhere else or in the prison.

Ground Report

An Unrest in Mundas’ Country

By Gladson Dungdung

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On 3rd December 2018, there was a complete silence at Chuklu village. The Munda Adivasis claim of being the owners of the village because their ancestors had settled down here couple of centuries ago. The village is situated in ‘Birbanki’ region, which is in the eastern part of Khunti district in Jharkhand. In the government’s document, it’s one of the most Naxal affected regions of Jharkhand. The region is full of beautiful pictorial sites with forests, hills and water bodies in it, connected with each other. The yellow colour of ripen paddies adds more beauty in the scene. In the region, the air is pure; the water is pure and the Mundas are pure too. No one cheat anyone or grab anyone’s land or betray anyone here like the so-called civilized people do in the cities. Instead they live in community, respect each other’s autonomy and share and care of one another. The communism, equality and autonomy are the foundation of their society.

Indeed, the World would have been a beautiful place if this philosophy could have also been in the practice of the so-called civilized people’s lives. Today, the Mundas have been struggling for their survival because the co-called civilized people have grabbed their land and other livelihood resources, and are trying hard to grab the remain lands, invading into their territories and making money by selling the natural resources. They do not only sell the land, minerals, hills, waterbodies and forests but they also sell the water and the air after polluting the nature through massive industrialization in the name of public interest, economic growth and development. They are exploiting the nature and Mundas.

The impact of climate change caused by the heavy industrialization globally, can be easily seen in the region. The lack of timely rain, has adverse effect on agriculture, which totally depend on monsoon. The paddies of uphill fields have turned into straws, which could be used as food for cattle only. The Government’s agriculture loan and insurance policy don’t work in the region. The Mundas know that they will not compensated for the loss of harvest, therefore, they don’t even expect for it. Since, they don’t pollute the nature, therefore, they cannot even imagine about the impact of industrialization in their lives, instead, they think that perhaps, it’s a curse of the Singbonga (God).

It’s the harvesting time. The Mundas are busy in harvesting of ripped paddies, which will ensure food for them till the next harvesting season. They are happy to see the sufficient ripen paddies in their prime agriculture lands. They will survive despite the impact of climate change. Today, the Gram Sabha (Village council) had called for a mass meeting of 15 adjoining villages to discuss on the issues of land grab, violation of the constitutional, legal and traditional rights and the government’s divide and rule policy.

When I arrived to the village, I hardly see anyone, therefore, a question arose in my mind that who will attend the meeting in such a pick hour of harvesting? The village head, who was preparing traditional breakfast for the guests was hopeful and suggested me to wait for the people. He knew that the Mundas would surely turn up for the meeting. They know about the importance of such meeting. They know the importance of land for their lives. If they lose their land, there will be no harvesting season for them anymore. They are aware about the fact that the elected government has been batting for the corporate houses, therefore, their remaining land can be grabbed anytime.

In the afternoon, the Mundas started rushing to Chuklu. They sat down under the tamarind tries standing in the middle of the village. This is a socio-cultural place, known as ‘Akhra’. They conduct meeting, share the traditional wisdom with their children and perform dance during the festivals. The Mundas are always determined to protect their land, territory and resources. Indeed, they are worriers. They fought against the Britishers and they have been fighting against the Indian rulers too. This fight is for identity, autonomy and ownership rights over the land, territory and resources, which has been going on for last couple of centuries.

In the eastern part of Akhra, couple of stone slaps seems to be standing for years. These stone slabs had been installed by the Gram Sabha (village council). One can see the detail about village including the landholders, curved on the slabs. This is also known as the proof of land entitlement. The State is afraid of the such stone slabs; therefore, the installation of stone slabs is counted as anti-national activity these days. One can be thrown behind the bars for indulging such activity. However, these stone slabs standing like the walls, are enough to inspire the Mundas to continue their fight for protecting their land, territory and resources. They remind them that the land contains the sweat and blood of their ancestors, therefore, they must protect it and handover to the coming generations. That’s why the Mundas challenge the State without any fear and terror.

At the beginning of the meeting, Birsa Hansa of Chuklu village sings a folk song in Mundari, “Abu Adivasis Munda Ko Singbonga kabu bagiya, gathi-kuthi radi-bari jati ko oote hasa ko reo jad bua.” The literal meaning of the song is that ‘we the Munda Adivasis shall never leave our God because non-Adivasis are grabbing our land.’ The Mundas used to sing this song during the Birsa Revolt. However, this song is very much relevant event today therefore, they sing it in the meetings with the same spirit. There is no need to teach them about Birsa Revolt, they know that they must fight to protect their land, territory and resources till the last breath. They challenge the State whenever and wherever is required therefore, they are under scanner. They need a permission for holding any kind of social, cultural or political activity in the villages.

These days, no one can organize a meeting without prior permission of the Government authorities, which is against the PESA Act 1996. As per the Act, the Gram Sabha is the supreme authority of a village but the State has hijacked it. Therefore, the Gram Sabhas also needs to get permission from the government authority. What’s an irony? Chuklu Gram Sabha had acquired the prior permission for today’s meeting, still, a CRPF officer along with three constables rushed to the venue. They heard our discussions patiently so that they could fix some of us as anti-national activists under the sedition law. But, this time, they had to rush back empty hands as we discussed on the issues of land grab, land bank, power of Gram Sabha, religious conflict, violation of constitutional, legal and traditional rights and our ownership rights over the land, territory and resources. Perhaps, the security men had come to find out the Pathalgari connection. Most interestingly, we didn’t even know that the RSS men were also part of this meeting. They went to the police station and attempted to file an FIR against the organisers and me but that didn’t work. They were upset because I exposed about their political game behind creating the religious conflict among Adivasis.

After hearing my speech for couple of hours, a 25-year-old Adivasi youth Sagen raises his right hand and stands up. His face looks furious; his eyes are red and mind seems to be unrest. He questions, “Why did the Jharkhand government enlisted our land in land bank?  How can the government take such an illegal step without consent of the Gram Sabhas? How can we protect our land?” The Jharkhand government has constituted a land bank in 2014, where 2.1 million acres of so-called government land is enlisted. These are commons, sacred grooves and forest land, which are owned by the Gram Sabhas. The land bank is violation of the PESA Act 1996, FRA 2006 and SC’s Niyamgiri judgment. The most important question is that when the State violates the law, who will act against it? The land grab has created unrest in the Mudas minds and hearts.

The Mundas’ territory known as their country seems to be calm and quiet, but in reality, there is unrest. The unrest is in the minds and hearts of Mundas, which has been burning like coal fire under the Earth for last couple of years. This unrest reflects while they speak either in a meeting or normal conversation. Most of the village heads have already been imprisoned in the sedition charges for their involvement in autonomous movement known as ‘Pathalgari’ similar like the Britishers did with the Adivasi legend Birsa Munda in 19th century.

I have been travelling across the Mundas’ territory for a decade now but this time, I was shocked to see that the entire territory has already been militarized after the Pathalgari Movement and Kochang gang rape incident, and the efforts are also being made for establishment of the permanent security camps in the villages. The questions arise in mind, for whom these security camps have been established? Do Mundas need the security? What is the purpose of these camps? Ironically, the government has setup the security camps at the distance of every five kilometers but the government hospitals are located at 40 to 50 kilometers from the villages, where there is no guarantee for treatment. The government doctors are busy in their private clinic but they draw salary from the taxpayers’ money. But who bother about it? Where is the accountability of the State?

The CRPF runs its security camps in some of the schools, where children learn more about the guerilla warfare than their textbooks, eat midday meal and get back to home. The secondary schools are located at 30 to 40 kilometers from these villages. The children can’t cycle everyday on pathetic road therefore, most of them drop out after class 8th. Indian democracy can’t even build a good road for them. What else they can expect from such State despite casting their votes in every five years. India is known as the largest democracy on the Earth but in reality, the corporate houses have hijacked the democracy. Today, the State is run by the corporate sharks, who are striving to grab the land, territory and resources of the Adivasis including the Mundas.

Article

Democracy and Land Rights

By Gladson Dungdung

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Indian democracy is known as the largest democracy on the Earth but the irony is that one of the thrust issues i.e. land reform to ensure land rights to the landless masses remains as unfinished agenda even today. The land reform, which clearly means to ensure ‘land to the tiller’ was one of the promises made during the freedom struggle of India. In 1950, ‘landlord system was abolished by the enforcement of the land reform Act. At the same time, Binoba Bhave launched the nationwide land donation movement largely known as ‘Bhoodan Movement’. He asked the landlords to donate their surplus land for the landless people of India, which had become a ray of hope for the landless masses.

However, this hope stuck with the contradictions; on one hand, the landless people were given the land rights on the surplus land, which was taken from the landlords after enforcement of the land ceiling and on the other hand, the government enforced the Russian model of development and acquired the land of the small and marginal farmers mostly the Adivasis for so-called development projects under the tags of ‘national interest’ and ‘development’. Thus, millions of people became landless across the country.

In 1991, the government of India accepted the liberal economic policy, which further opened up the door for the corporate world, which created huge pressure on democracy and land rights. The corporate houses began their lobby in the corridors of power to influence the policy formation to ensure the natural resources mostly the land and mineral resources. Consequently, the land reform was put aside by the government(s).

In 21st century, the Indian democracy was transformed into the corporate democracy. The owners of the corporate houses entered the Parliament by buying tickets for the Raj Sabha the upper house. There is also example where the billionaires became the people’s representatives by contesting parliamentary elections. Presently, most of the members of the Parliament are billionaires. Consequently, the most thrust issue of land reform has been lost, whereas the number of landless people is increasing day by day. The most important question to be raised is can a billionaire represents the thrust issues of the poor masses? The number of landless masses has been increasing day by day but there is no serious debate is taking place in the Parliament.

According to the Census report, the number of landless agricultural labourers in the country rose to 14.43 crore in 2011 from 10.67 crore in 2001[1]. The most interesting figure is that 4.9% of farmers control 32% of India’s farmland and 101.4 million or 56.4% of rural households own no agricultural land[2] and 17,73,040 people are houseless. As of December 2015, land declared “surplus” (meaning, it could be taken away from landlords) across India stood at 6.7 million acres; the government took over 6.1 million acres; and distributed 5.1 million acres. 1 million acres of land remained for distribution.

In 1950s, we used to call the farmers as the backbone of the country because the contribution of agriculture to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 51%. Today, as many as 570 million Indians or 47.1% still depend on agriculture, which contributes merely 17% to GDP. 95.1% of Indian farmers are called “marginal, small and semi-medium”, meaning they own up to 2.47, 4.94 and 9.88 acres of land, respectively. These farmers own 68.2% of cultivated land[3].

Presently, we have the corporate democracy in India, where there is a huge nexus between the State and the corporate houses. The corporate houses fund the Indian elections and manipulate the government later. The corporate houses pressurise the government to introduce new policies to profit them, amend the existing laws, which are obstacle for resource grabbing especially in the schedule areas and acquire land using paramilitary forces. This is the reason why 1% people own 73% wealth of India. It was 55% in 2014, which clearly means the policies of the present government are completely corporate centric whereas the food security of the most marginalized people depends on marginal farming. Therefore, the land rights need to be ensure to the landless people.

However, today, the most challenging matter is how to protect the small patches of land of those marginal farmers who are residing in the mineral corridors of India because there is huge pressure from the corporate world. For instance, the Global Investors Summits were organized in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat and Assam to attract the investors. The state governments also signed hundreds of MoUs with the corporate house. The state governments of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh also amended the safeguarding land laws to secure land for the corporate houses. In the state of Jharkhand, 2.1 million acres of commons land was enlisted in the ‘Land Bank’and the forest department has also proposed three wildlife corridors and three sub-corridor projects, where 870 villages will be relocated from the forests. There is also a proposal to build Industrial Corridor in the state, where the land will be acquired with 25 km each side of four lanning roads between Koderma and Bahragora. Similarly, the Agriculture Minister of Chhattisgarh prohibited the farmers to cultivate paddy during the summer season claiming that the corporate houses have first right on the water. In these circumstance, where farmers will go to protect their fundamental rights?

It is obvious that the democracy doesn’t work for the landless and marginal farmers. However, since, the Indian Constitution promises to ensure the social, economic and political justice to each and every one, therefore, we must continue to strive for ensuring that the democracy delivers the land rights to the landless and marginalized people of India. The food security of the marginalized people depends on agriculture therefore; land rights must be ensured to them.

[1] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/number-of-landless-agricultural-labourers-in-india-rises-to-14-43-crore/articleshow/52225793.cms

[2] http://www.indiaspend.com/cover-story/land-reforms-fail-5-of-indias-farmers-control-32-land-31897

[3] Ibid.

Article

Is it a Plan Game of Sangh Parivar?

By Gladson Dungdung

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Jharkhand has been in the line of fire after lynching of 12 innocent people by the mobs, when a rumour of kidnapping kids, spread in the region. The opposition parties constantly attacked the state government for its failure in maintaining the law and order in the state, and the media too concluded it as the State’s failure in protecting its citizens. But is it so simple matter, which is merely related to the failure of law and order in the state? One should see the larger politics of the state to understand the reasons behind the incident. In fact, it was a well-designed plan, executed by the right-wing forces to divert the public attention, discourse and unrest from ongoing resistance against the BJP government on the issue of handing over the Adivasis’ lands to the private business entities.

The Adivasis have been resisting against the state government for amending two land legislations – Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act 1908 and Santal Pargana Tenancy (supplementary provisions) Act 1949, which are known as the safeguards to the Adivasi land. This resulted in the electoral loss to the BJP, who lost the Littipada by-election recently, despite, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi distributed smart mobile phones under the digital india programme to the Adivasi women and jobs appointment letters to some Paharia Adivasis. This has created unrest in the minds of BJP leaders, who are aspiring to retain the power in 2019.

The RSS and its allied organizations have been operating in the Chhottanagpur and Santal Pargana regions of the state for decades, where the BJP won most of the Assembly seats. However, the Adivasis have been protesting the BJP MLAs making them responsible for the amendment of land laws. There are several Adivasi organisations and traditional bodies, who have ostracized some of the BJP MLAs and openly declaring that they’ll campaign against the BJP in 2019. This clearly means, the BJP is going to lose the power in the state in coming election. If the Adivasis denounce the BJP, the party will become irrelevant in the state similar like the Congress party, which is upsetting the party leadership.

The Adivasis were the traditional vote bank of the Congress Party and there was no such divide based on the religion among the Adivasis. In 1938 the Adivasi Mahasabha was formed and in 1939 Jaipal Singh Munda presided over the outfit, which was later transformed as Jharkhand Party, the first political entity of the Adivasis. The party started the statehood movement to protect the Adivasi identity, autonomy and rights over the land, territory and resources. In 1952 and 1957 the party won 32-32 assembly seats in Bihar subsequently, and became the opposition party. This created terror in the Congress party. Thus, the right wings forces inside the congress party, started dividing the Adivasis on the basis of religion.

Since, the Congress party had already created religious based division among the Adivasis, which was a great opportunity for the Sangh Parivar to enter in the Adivasis’ territory. In 1990s the Sangh Parivar realized that the party can rule the region if it succeeds in dividing the Adivasis based on Sarna vs Christian Adivasis. The Sangh Parivar adopted the same methods of JESUIT, approaching the Adivasi community by providing education and health services. The RSS runs NGOs i.e. Vanvashi Kalayan Ashram, Vanvashi Kalyan Kendra and Vikas Bharti played a vital role in creating division among the Adivasis. The sister organizations of RSS i.e. VHP, Bajran Dal and others also fanned the religious flame. After formation of the state, the Sangh Parivar succeeded in imprinting the conversion in the minds of Sarna Adivasis as their prime issue and made the missionaries as their biggest enaminy. Thereafter, a series of conflicts were created on the matter of Kurukh version of Bible, use of the red boarder sari for the statue of Mother Mary, seizing the benefit of reservation to the converted Adivasis, demand for anti-conversion law and re-conversion of Christian Adivasis to Hinduism under the tag of Ghar Wapsi (returning to the origin).

This resulted in a huge electoral gain for the BJP, who ruled the state most of the time. In the last Assembly Election held in December 2014, Modi had promised to protect the Adivasis’ land. However, after winning the election, the BJP made first non-tribal as its Chief Minister against the tradition of make an Adivasi as head of the government. The Chief Minister, Raghuvar Das also enforced the domicile police, which recognizes everyone as resident of the state. The Jharkhand government amended the CNT/SPT Acts and enlisted 21 lakh acres of GM land in the land bank, which includes the lands of sacred groves, village paths, play grounds, graveyards, forest lands, hills, etc. The Government also organized a Global Investors Summit and signed 210 MoUs with corporate houses, who proposed the investment of Rs. 3.10 lakh crores in the state.

The government’s these activities fueled the anger of the Adivasis, who started series of protests against it. The Chief Minister Raghuvar Das attempted to play the religious politics by blaming the Christian Missionaries of instigating the Adivasis but it had no impact on the Adivasis. The Sarna Adivasis realized that the government has a clear intention to divide the Adivasis on religious line and handover their lands and other natural resources to the corporate houses. The governments acts paved the way for Adivasis unity, which upset the BJP leadership and RSS.

The Sangh Parivar knows that its politics will flourish in the state till the religious divide remain among the Adivasis, and if the issue of land conflict survive for a longer time, the BJP will surely lose the coming elections. Therefore, the present priority of the right-wing forces is to divert the land related discourse, keep the issues alive by false propagation, which sustain the religious divide among the Adivasis and create communal conflicts to polarize the communal votes. The BJP government has failed in realization of the electoral promises and Adivasis aspirations, therefore, it keeps shifting the goalposts. Hence, one shouldn’t be surprised if the incidents like Jamshedpur keep happening in the state till next elections.

Ground Report

Why I’m on the LoC?

By Gladson Dungdung

Gladson Dungdung and Swami Agnivesh

Since 2013, I have been travelling abroad to speak on the Adivasi issues in different forums. I talk about our rights over the land, territory and resources, conservation of the natural resources and protection of ecology of the country. Consequently, I’m under the surveillance of the State as I raise uncomfortable questions frequently. In October 2013, my passport was impounded on the basis of “adverse police report” due to my involvement in the people’s movements against forceful land acquisition and unfolding the gross human rights violation of Adivasis in the counter insurgency in the so-called Red Corridor of India. However, after my special request to the top police officers of Jharkhand for proper verification of the passport, it was restored in July 2014. Thereafter, I attended a couple of conferences in Denmark and the UK. Last, November, I travelled to London following the release of my book, Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India.

This May, I was scheduled to attend a workshop on the environmental politics of South Asia at the University of Sussex, UK. Unfortunately, this became a nightmare for me. On May 9, 2016 after check-in, I collected the boarding card and went to immigration counter. I submitted the immigration form along with the passport and boarding card to the immigration officer. At the beginning, the immigration officer talked to me nicely but later it was inconvenient. After asking general questions, he also asked me whether I’m a student? In response, I told him of being a researcher. The next question he asked was on which topic I do research? I said, “Human Rights”. As soon as he heard the words “Human Rights”, he deserted his chair and went inside to find out his boss. He returned to the counter after 15 minutes and called the Air India staff and ordered him to offload my luggage.

After hearing the word “offloading”, I was stunned, therefore, I asked him the reason for offloading me, he told me that my passport is impounded, so I can’t fly to London. He wrote “offloaded” on the boarding card and handed over a seizure memo for my signature, which reads “Pax was LoC subject”, which clearly means I was under the “look out circular” but I was not told about it. When I was reading the memo before putting my signature on it, the officer told me, “You have enough time to read it later so put your signature on it and give me back”. When the offloading procedure got over after two hours, I was sent to collect my luggage, where I had to wait for another couple of hours. Of course, this kind of treatment was really shocking for me. Suddenly, question arose into my mind was that what would have happened if I were a family member of Malaya, Ambani or Adani family? This time it’s not the nation but I want to know from the nation that why I’m on the look out circular? Am I a security threat to the Nation? Am I anti-State? Am I against of economic growth and development of my own country?

Most interestingly, impounding of passport was told as the reason for offloading me from the Air India 115 but the Regional Passport Officer (RPO) of Ranchi, Sanatan Shrivastava told to the media that my passport was impounded in 2013 but restored after proper police verification and clearance. At the same time, the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi also declined its involvement and said that it is a valid passport therefore, the person is not barred from flying abroad. Indeed, an immigration officer can’t take such steps without authorization either from the top officers or from the Ministry of Home Affairs. Therefore, my question is that who is responsible for it? Where does buck stop? Why I was offloaded?

First of all, we need to understand that the most of Indians think that the human rights is a western concept similar like western dresses, food, culture, etc, which is indeed the gravest threat to Brahamanical social order, therefore, the human rights was propagated in negative sense that it is to protect the criminals, Naxals and terrorists. Thus, those are engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights are seen as the people serving against the interest of the country. Ironically, the foundation of the Indian Constitution is based on the principles of human rights that’s why it is not enforced properly. However, bitter truth is that these days, the wisdom and authority don’t go together therefore, authoritarian governments never engage the dissent voices, which is of course a threat to democracy.

Undoubtedly, we the rights activists are seen as anti-state, who are allegedly said to be going abroad to defame the country and in return, paid huge sum of money by those countries who are against of India’s progress. Of course, that’s not true. It’s happening precisely because the Indian politics is negative. Earlier, the opposition parties were known for negative role but now even the ruling parties play the negative politics, therefore, whoever raises uncomfortable questions are seen as enemy of the State, instead of dissent voices, who needs to be engaged by the State. Question is can democracy survive without the dissent? Can India claim of being the true largest democracy on Earth today? I’m asking these questions precisely because our fundamental rights the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Indian Constitution the right to freedom of expression is being curtailed by the State by the use of varies ways and means. In fact, the State must understand that dissents are not anti-State but they are there to strengthen the democracy.

At the beginning I was alleged as a ‘sympathizer of the Maoist’ but is that true? The fact is I have heavily criticized the Maoist Movement in Jharkhand for their support to the corporate houses, therefore, the State simply cannot allege me of being the Naxal sympathizer. For me, the Maoist Movement is almost equal to a private security agency today, who provides security to anyone who pay for it. The CPI-Maoist is also doing the same in Saranda Forest of Jharkhand, which was the eastern headquarter of the CPI-Maoist for a decade, where the State couldn’t dare to run a school, but more than 12 mining companies were comfortably operating their mining projects in the forest. How was that possible?

My biggest anguish is on the general perception about the Adivasis, who are perceived as anti-development, Naxals and sub-human crowd by the State and non-state actors. But are we? For instance, 1000 innocent Adivasis were brutally killed in the fake encounters, more than 500 women were raped or molested and 25,000 are languishing in different prisons in the allegation of being Naxals across the Red Corridors. 300,000 Adivasis were vacated from 644 villages in Chhatisgarh. What should they do?

Land acquisition is another big issue today. The Adivasis are being alienated from their resources. In the Nagri Mass Movement near Ranchi the capital city of Jharkhand, we were protesting not against the education hub but against the acquisition of prime agriculture land. Our argument was that education hub could be built on the barren land but instead of listening our rational argument, we were branded as a crowd against IIM, IIIT and Law University. How could the nation forget that the corporate model of development the Tata Steel Ltd, dream projects of Nehru i.e. HEC, BSL, Hirakud Dam, Mayurakshi and Tenughat, etc all are built on Adivasis’ land? 80 to 90 percent people displaced in these projects were Adivasi, who were not respited properly. How could the development theory being taught to us by those who have not even surrendered one inch of land for the national interest?

Agriculture was known as backbone of India but today the prime focus in on mining, industry and service sector. In 1950, the contribution of the agricultural sector in GDP was 51 per cent but today it has come down to 18 per cent. The service sector is fine, but mining and industry do not really care about climate change and deforestation. For money, can we sell all our forests and cut down the trees? We have to find other ways. The industry sector is not going to address the unemployment. For instance, when Tata Steel was producing 1 million tonnes steel per annum, 70,000 people were employed. When the yielding went upto 8 million tonnes, they had only 20,000 people. So where are the jobs? We must understand that the food security of majority of rural population is ensured today only because they have small patches of land.

However, in the name of development, the Indian State is grabbing the natural resources from the poor people and handing it over to the rich. Take the example of Jharkhand. Each year, there is an income of Rs 150 billion from mining alone, which is almost equal to the annual budget of Jharkhand. But 36 per cent of the people still live below the poverty line. Why? If so much money is coming from mining, why are people living in poverty? Why the money is not going back to the people? Is it not true that the corporate sharks are being benefited under the guise of economic growth and development of country?

After a lots of hue and cry, the Indian State officially accepted that historical injustice meted out on the Adivais and promised to right the historical wrongs through the Forest Rights Act 2006. However, the enforcement of the Act is very poor with the clear intention to handover the natural resources to the private entities. For instance, 0.5 million claims were rejected in the State of Chhattisgarh, where 345 MoUs have been signed, and entitlement given under the FRA was withdrawn in Sarguja district for coal mining, which is against the Forest Rights Act. Similarly, in Saranda Forest of Jharkhand, 22 new iron ore mining leases were sanctioned to the corporate houses whereas 3000 Adivasis of 30 villages have not yet been given identity cards intentionally so that they could be declared encroachers during the forest clearance.

Finally, I’m much concerned about the upcoming ecological crisis, which India is going to face. Since, the Indian government envisages to achiever 9 percent GDP per annum, therefore, the focus is on economic growth, which to is not only a threat to the existence of Adivasis, but also to our ecology. India has merely 21 percent forest coverage though the requirement for the maintenance of environment is at least 33 per cent. I was really surprised to see the Union Minister, who is supposed to take case of environment, forest and climate change seems busy in issuing environment and forest clearances to the private entities. He brought down from 560 days to 190 days for forest and environment clearance for the so-called development projects. Is this a project clearance ministry? From April 2014 to March 2016, the ministry has diverted 34,620 hectares of forest land, granting them final clearances and another diversion of 40,476 hectares will soon happen once the ministry grants them final clearance. India will not survive by selling its natural resources for economic growth. The ruling elites must understand that the economy can not be expanded on the cost of ecology but who is going to tell them? And of course, when I tell them the fact about livelihood, ecological and human crisis in publicly they put me on LoC.

On 20 May 2015, I met the Regional Passport Officer, Ranchi to know the status of my passport, and I was surprised to know that the passport is valid. However, the offloading was done by immigration authority without proper verification. What does it mean? It clearly means that I was offloaded because of my book – Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India, which exposed that how the Indian State has been waging a war primarily for grabbing the natural resources under the guise of cleansing the naxal menace. Finally, my passport was restored with a letter, which states that my passport is valid therefore, I can fly to any country. But of course, my name is not remove from the LoC. Why? Am I still a gravest security threat to the nation? Where is my right to freedom?

Article

CAMPA: the Return of British Raj to Forest

By Gladson Dungdung

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The Adivasis requesting the police officers to stop razing their mazes in Telangana

It was first time in the Indian history, when the Indian State had officially accepted the historical injustice committed to the Adivasis and other forest dweller communities, and promised to right the historic wrongs by recognizing their traditional rights over the forest and forest land under the Scheduled Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006, popularly known as the Forest Rights Act. However, before the Act would be translated into reality, the BJP led NDA Government put the speed breaker by enforcing the CAMPA, which is a great setback to the forest rights of the Adivasis and other forest dweller communities. There is huge fund Rs. 44,000 crore remained unspent under CAMPA and there would be availability of additional Rs. 600 crore every year under the CAMPA fund. Hence, the Indian Bureaucracy is overwhelmed to enforce the CAMPA, which will provide them a great opportunity for harvesting.

As far as the forest governance is concerned, the forest department has regained the lost hegemonic power through CAPMA, which will further complicate the problems and, of course, the department will unleashed the violence, atrocities and suppression against the Adivasis and other forest dweller communities while enforcing it. The question is whether it is merely an apprehension? There are numbers of past and present circumstances, which suggest that the CAMPA is returns of the British regime to the forest, which will further enhance the resource based conflict and also, regenerate the enmity between the State and the communities.

The state of Jharkhand is one of the crucial examples, which has a long history of resources based conflict between the State and the Adivasi communities, that had begun during the British regime in 1779, when the revenue was imposed on land and forest produces, and the Adivasis’ habitations were also declared as eminent domain and property of the State by enforcement of the draconian laws – the Permanent Settlement Act 1793, Land Acquisition Act 1894, Indian Forest Act 1865 and so on, which facilitated the grabbing of the Adivasis’ lands, territory and resources. After India’s independence, the Laws, policies and programmes remain the same. Instead of white, the black rulers continue the same pace of violence, atrocities and suppression against the Adivasis with a clear intention to grab their remaining natural resources.

The CAMPA has enhanced the State’s power to grab the community forest resources, which is the only source for the survival of the 60 percent Adivasis. Needless to say that the Adivasis economy is completely based on agro-forest and 91.1 percent Adivasis still live in the rural areas and merely 8.9 percent of them have shifted to the cities. This clearly means the community will not survive without the forest, which is not merely the livelihood resources for them but their identity, culture, tradition, ethos and existence rely on it. Unfortunately, once again, they would be pushed out of the forests in the name of regeneration, protection and development of the forest.

Much before the CAMPA was passed by the Indian Parliament, the Jharkhand government had already started the processes for enforcement of the CAMPA. The Chief Secretary, Rajbala Verma, confirms in a meeting of the Forest officials, held in Ranchi on 25 July 2016 that the Jharkhand Government had already sent a CAMPA plan to the Centre Government. In the financial year 2016-17, the Jharkhand government had proposed to built 36,400 forest fencing pillars, with the investment of Rs. 1440 million, which the Centre has already sanctioned. In the CAMPA fund, Jharkhand will have a share of Rs. 3990 million. Consequently, under the guise of regeneration of the forest, the Forest Department has already begun to build the forest boundaries in Simdega, West Singhbhum and other districts of Jharkhand leading to a huge conflict between the Forest Department and the Adivasis. The Adivasis are protesting and destroying the forest boundaries, and in response, the Forest Department has filed against them, unleashed violence and suppressed them.

The CAMPA has pushed back the agenda of Forest Rights as the Government is more interested in enforcing the CAPMA instead of Forest Rights Act. Johnson Topno, the State Manager of PACS, the organization jointly enforcing the forest rights with the Tribal Welfare Department of Jharkhand Government, reveals that there are 14,000 villages in the forest region in Jharkhand alone, where there is possibilities of one million individuals and 12 thousand community claims, which will take another five in converting to entitlements. By the end of April 2016, the Jharkhand government had distributed merely 46,149 entitlements under the Forest Rights Act 2006 including 44,702 individual and 1447 community entitlements.

The CAMPA disregards the Forest Rights Act and PESA Act 1996. Both the Acts empower the Gram Sabha (village council) for management, development and regeneration of the village’s natural resources. Therefore, there was a demand that the CAMPA fund to be given to the Gram Sabhas for the protection, regeneration and management of forest and forest biodiversity, which was disregarded due to corporate, environmentalist and so-called conservationists’ lobby. The most important question is whether is CAMPA has really intention to protect the forest? In the last two year of NDA regime, 34,620 hectare forest land is already diverted for so-called development projects and 40,478 is in pipeline. The Indian government acknowledged in Forest Survey 2011 that the forests are remaining only in those regions where Adivasis are residing. What does it mean?

Let’s not forget that the Jharkhand is one of the crucial states, where 22 out of 24 districts are under the control of the left wings extremists and the centre is spending huge amount of money under IAP in the name of containing the Naxalism. Most importantly, when the state was curved out from Bihar in November 2000, there were only eight Naxal infested districts. One of the most important reasons for the shifting of the Naxal Movement from the Dalits’ hamlets to the Adivasis’ natural resource hub is the violence, atrocities and torture unleashed against the Adivasis by the Forest Department, which clearly means the CAMPA will further provide fertile soil for the growth of Naxalism in the forest regions.

The fact is that the Adivasis are not only consumers of the forests but protectors and conserves too. In fact, the idea of co-existence, which exists in Adivasi philosophy, is the only way for regeneration, protection and development of the forest. The Adivasis have their century old comprehensive methods, rules and policies for preservation, protection and conservation of the forests, which needs to be promoted and encouraged, and incorporated in the CAMPA. Without respecting of rights and entitlement of the Adivasis over the forest and forest land will always generate more and more conflict and complicate the problem instead of resolving it.

Note: Article was written in 2016.