Research Paper

Adivasis on the March – Crisis and Cultural Genocide in Tribal India  

By Gladson Dungdung & Felix Padel

IMG_1216India’s tribal people are in ferment after a Supreme Court (SC) judgment in February 2019 ordered eviction of over a million tribal families from traditional lands where claims under the Forest Rights Act (2006)[1] have been rejected – as the majority have been, due to obstruction from forest officials and a multitude of murky vested interests.[2] Adivasis are on the march in many states,[3] despite a stay on the judgment asked for by the main political parties.[4]

The case at the SC was brought by several conservation groups. Yet evicting Adivasis is the last thing likely to save India’s surviving forests.[5] Despite hard work by hundreds of dedicated people in conjunction with thousands of tribal families battling mindless bureaucracy, government officials overall have failed outrageously to implement the Forest Rights Act, that was meant to start correcting the massive historic injustice towards Adivasis.[6]

The SC order and Adivasi reactions unfolded in February-March 2019, after vicious government repression of an Adivasi resurgence known as the Pathalgadi movement, in Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Pathalgadi (‘installation of stone slab’) represents a highly original attempt to assert Adivasi autonomy and control over land, territory and resources, which has been recognised through several laws, that have not been properly implemented by most state governments (See here).[7]

The context is one of vastly accelerating dispossession of hundreds of tribal communities in India;[8] and the (often admitted) overall failure to implement the PESA (Panchayat [Extension to Scheduled Areas]) Act of 1996, that was meant to decentralise control in tribal areas, giving tribal people the real autonomy supposedly guaranteed under Schedules V & VI of India’s Constitution. Similarly, the Forests Rights ACT (FRA) of 2006 was meant to correct a historic injustice by giving tribal people their due rights to the forests they have always lived in. The SC order appalled tribal rights activists already reeling from the scale of repression.[9] Government representatives failed even to appear in court to answer the highly distorted charges brought by the ‘anti-Adivasi’ conservation groups.[10]

IMG_1304Erecting megaliths is an ancient custom among many of India’s tribal peoples, for commemorating the dead among other purposes. The custom of erecting pathalgadi stones with quotations from the Constitution or PESA Act was initiated by B.D. Sharma along with senior police officer Bandi Oraon, after PESA was passed in 1996. The practice was revived in 2016-17, in Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, in the face of a rising tide of looming land grabs. One part of this was an unprecedented ‘Land Bank’ portal started by the Jharkhand (and other) governments in 2016, which involved listing Adivasi common or unregistered lands, including sacred groves, as available for investors to buy.[11] By January 2019 this Land Bank listed over two million acres of Adivasi lands in Jharkhand,[12] with a similar phenomenon in Odisha,[13] and other states.

Erecting these large, inscribed stones therefore responds to an urgent need to spread recognition of Adivasis’ legally recognised rights.[14] The stones are inscribed with words from India’s Constitution and PESA, that delegate authority to village councils (Gram Sabhas). By April 2018, the Pathalgadi movement was spreading fast,[15] with its epicentre in Khunti district.

IMG_1253Then an event occurred in June 2018 that led to a wave of extreme repression. Several women actors were reported to have been abducted and raped on 19th June after performing at a Catholic school near Kochang village in Khunti district, and the perpetrators were said to be leaders of the Pathalgadi movement. Many elements of the story did not add up however (See here, The Wire report),[16] and those arrested included the school principle, who was certainly innocent, and is still jailed.[17] Police kept the women under ‘protection’ for two months, with no media access, and on their release, they were reportedly told not so speak out, with death threats to them and their families if they did so. No-one who has investigated the incident closely believes that the rape really happened at all.

Just one week later, a police firing took place 50 kms away, after Ghagra village erected a Pathalgadi. Police were angry about the new stone, and threatened villagers with death if they erected more; supposedly, they were also searching for two of the leaders accused of the rape (Joseph Purty and John Junas Tidu, of Udburu village), as well as three Adivasi security guards, who had been abducted from an Adivasi MP’s house (that of Karia Munda in Charidih village), in a bid to insist on dialogue with the police after several Pathalgadi activists had been beaten up. The police firing took place on 26th June, when an estimated 2,000 villagers were opposing the entry of about 500 armed police into Ghagra. One man was killed, and several badly wounded. The slain Adivasi was named Birsa Munda, after the iconic leader who resisted British rule and died in jail in 1900.This young Birsa Munda was from Chamri village, one of the first to erect Pathalgadi stones in Khunti in 2016-17.[18]

Repression soon became very severe,[19] involving many arrests and charges brought by police against over 10,000 Pathalgadi activists. The movement has been branded ‘anti-national’, and Maoist-instigated,[20] with revered non-tribal supporters such as Stan Swamy targeted too.[21]

            This repression was compounded by the murder of Amit Topno in December 2018, a Hindi language journalist covering the Pathalgadi movement in Khunti and its suppression. There has been no proper investigation yet, let alone justice for Amit.[22]

Recently, a new spate of forced takeovers of Adivasi lands has occurred in several parts of Jharkhand, especially for a new coal-fired power plant by Adani in Godda district (in the state’s northeast, bordering Bihar and West Bengal). Villagers have been beaten up and their crops bulldozed, with widely circulated photos of a woman touching an Adani official’s feet, begging him not to do this. Adani’s plan is for a mega-power plant near Godda, for which coal would be brought from Adani’s controversial new mine in Australia, with electricity sold at a large profit to Bangladesh.[23] Similarly extreme repression has taken place against Adivasi protestors against a huge Adani coal project in Surguja district in north Chhattisgarh.[24] This follows years of mining takeovers in many tribal areas of central India, where open-cast coalmining has devastated hundreds of square kilometres of forest, displacing hundreds of  villages, despite strong Adivasi-led movements against this, for example in North Karampura valley in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand.

As Virginius Xaxa has pointed out, one of India’s most respected sociology professors of tribal origin, depicting the Pathalgadi movement as ‘anti-national’ is deeply ironic, since its aim is to disseminate the established and neglected laws of the the Indian Government.[25]

Jharkhand’s Adivasis have been marching in large numbers.[26] It is well recognised that tribal communities have preserved India’s forests better than anyone,[27] and over 100 conservationists have joined calls for rescinding the Supreme Court order.[28]

There are too many vital struggles by tribal communities in India to summarise briefly, including uproar on several issues in Northeast India,[29] some involving mass displacement by big dams, oil and infrastructure projects.[30] Adivasis in north Odisha have vowed to boycott the upcoming elections, since the main parties are so apathetic towards their essential needs and rights.[31] Asurs, Birhors and other members of ‘Particularly Vulnerable Groups’ (PVTGs) are neglected and discriminated against outrageously (see here).[32]

Courageously, Sukhram Munda, the headman of Kochang village, near where the alleged gang-rape took place, has spoken out about how he was manipulated into signing land acquisition papers by police bringing a completely bogus case against him, while other villagers were tricked into signing land away through police gifts of sarees and dhotis. The school for which he donated land has been occupied by armed police, who are seeking more land to set up a permanent camp.[33]

To say that tribal people are being displaced by ‘development’ compounds the injustice.[34] What is forcing the displacement is financial investment, that is making a small number of people rich by sacrificing tens of thousands of those human beings living most sustainably in ecosystems they have lived in symbiosis with for centuries, that are now getting destroyed and turned into wastelands at an unprecedented speed – ecocide unfolding alongside cultural genocide.

The setting up and expansion of boarding schools for tribal children is making this cultural genocide much more intense,[35] promoting an unacknowledged policy of assimilation into the mainstream, that follows very closely the pattern of ‘stolen generation’ boarding schools into which indigenous children were forced throughout North America and Australia[36] – a deeply harmful policy for which the Prime Ministers of Canada and Australia have apologized to their indigenous citizens.[37] The first ‘industrial school’ was set up for native American children near Pittsburgh in 1878.

The policy of assimilation through boarding schools in north America and Australia ended in the 1970s-80s. In India, by contrast, boarding schools for tribal children are getting more numerous and bigger, and recent government directives are for more boarding schools and greater digitialisation of education, removing learning even further from community control.[38] In ‘Ashram schools’ for tribal children, which number several thousand and are now complemented by many more models of private and government tribal boarding schools (such as ‘Eklavya’ and Kasturba Gandhi residential schools), it is regular practice for children to have their hair cut short on enrolment, and to be given a new Hindu name – just as they were assigned Christian names in North America.[39] Traditional languages, ornaments and even religious practices are regularly banned. In many such schools, Sanskrit is taught – a wonderful, ancient language, but alien to tribal culture, while no less ancient languages such as Gondi and about 400 other tribal languages find no place in the curriculum. As a result of the humiliation and denigration associated with these languages, most show a sharp decline, even though Article 350A of India’s Constitution insists on every child’s right to be taught in their mother tongue. The result is a situation of linguistic genocide, and ‘miseducation’.[40]

The world’s biggest boarding school right now is called KISS (Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences) in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, which houses about 27,000 children from all 62 of Odisha’s Scheduled Tribes (STs), and increasing numbers of tribal children from other states too. Parents are enticed into sending their children to this distant school, even though the experience often alienates them from their families, communities and natural environment. This happens through recruitment agents throughout Odisha and beyond, with tribal development agencies, principals of local schools and even police officials persuading parents to send their children to KISS for a free education, with extravagant promises.

Children at KISS are allowed home only once a year. Special foods that their families send with them back to school are automatically thrown away in front of the children when they arrive in the school premises. Mobile phones through which they could keep in touch with their families are reportedly completely forbidden, and if found on children are confiscated or even broken in front of them. Since children can only go home once a year, this banning of mobiles, even to older children, who cannot phone home easily even when they fall ill, greatly accentuates childrens’ sense of isolation and incarceration at KISS.

The institution has won accolades from all sides for the free education on offer ‘from KG [kindergarten] to PG [post-graduate level]’, and its founder Achyuta Samanta’s claim to be doing a major social service to India’s tribal people has won him a recent award from the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.[41] This promotion is being done by government officials, some very senior,[42] even though the model is a private one. In effect, the government is abdicating its responsibility towards education, with day schools being closed in large numbers.[43]

In addition to the cultural genocide that boarding schools are contributing to, they are also directly damaging a huge number of individual children. Thousands have died in residential schools across India and sexual abuse has been reported repeatedly from tribal boarding schools in Odisha,[44] Chhattisgarh,[45] and elsewhere.

What is particularly sinister about this trend towards large boarding schools is that much of this industrial scale, regimented schooling is being funded by the very mining companies that are seeking to grab tribal lands. Adani is setting up a tribal boarding school called ‘Adani Vidya Mandir’ in Surguja district of Chhattisgarh, where it is grabbing tribal lands for coal mining, funded through its CSR (‘corporate social responsibility’);[46] with another project spreading computerised education in tribal schools in Godda district of Jharkhand where it is using force to acquire land for its power plant. The NMDC (National Mineral Development Corporation) that is expanding iron-ore mines and trying to set up a steel plant in south Chhattisgarh, has set up an ‘Education City’ in Dantewada district,[47] with several more under construction. As for KISS, it has MOU (memoranda of understanding) with Vedanta, Nalco, NMDC and Adani. The Vedanta MOU, for example, promises 20,000 rupees per year from the company for every Dongria Kondh child sent to KISS for education.[48] In other words, it looks as though tribal children are being brainwashed and alienated from their communities so as to facilitate massive further land grabs in the near future.

Other educational models exist! An expanding number of culturally sensitive, small-scale schools in different areas make learning fun,[49] and use tribal languages – a multilingual model that educational research shows produces far better results for improving literacy than imposing a mainstream language from the start. Nagaland has a model in which every village community exercises responsibility over local schools.[50] Is it possible that we can reverse the learning?[51] How can the cultural genocide be stopped? The mainstream world needs to start learning the values of sharing and sustainability from tribal communities, while education for Adivasi children has to become something that is fun and genuinely liberating, while serving their interests and under their own communities’ control.

[1]https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/what-is-forest-rights-act/article26419298.ece?fbclid=IwAR3X0cOo-Shgn7h4QihRLdSWrcX_gb4sXzU3JPI0hoqJ-mAIKMJ1WX4Kst4

[2]https://scroll.in/article/914404/five-reasons-why-claims-by-forest-dwellers-for-their-land-are-low-and-rejections-are-high?fbclid=IwAR2OThS-dFuzr5aR8BP4nigR4n8ZpyRk-3-hMqnZlxBtXUaSzzkjBCc5wyA

[3]https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/tribals-protest-against-their-eviction-from-forests/articleshow/68245292.cms?fbclid=IwAR089Xw794aU3U6R4Sx1mEBn1kRJPvTOq43dKrEA6A8I76mG7rtN-nzMu0w

[4]https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/bjp-congress-cms-to-appeal-scs-forest-order/articleshow/68160730.cms?fbclid=IwAR0_vJ7nsOf3XflQGpzRElnGTMhN5OAcBvVBtEdDasbnDlpI-KfyIM4bcls

[5]https://www.news18.com/news/opinion/opinion-dear-urban-activists-evicting-tribals-does-not-do-wildlife-conservation-any-favours-2056403.html?fbclid=IwAR1p4Dgjsadytt34Uh1WQWZ41pDRPaCEQUTxh2SyDd1eBRhmc5FBK8WMuH0

[6]https://scroll.in/article/914820/conservation-groups-should-be-helping-adivasis-save-forests-instead-they-are-working-to-evict-them?fbclid=IwAR1M_mek29uIT0qL6cjYSnadF448ENFIHTjeTg0lV_K5UVaFcZRbLUfB4SY

[7] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pathalgarhis-long-shadow-Indias-tribal-heartland-wants-freedom-from-govt-control/articleshow/67673490.cms

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/25/land-grab-tribal-people-india-adivasi?fbclid=IwAR3VUCNOmbrskFiJcSNYBjLeQcZ7ibl0B-FMTKP8YCIyYp9I2tMDRmE_jQI

[9] https://www.counterview.net/2019/02/pro-corporate-supreme-court-order-on.html?spref=fb&fbclid=IwAR24z2Ad1TSKulOf0m3bGwPsVEQ-io7rY6LDt-OZkAcpXrbTnnDj2PrJZT0

[10] https://countercurrents.org/2019/02/23/corporate-conservationists-use-judicial-process-to-annihilate-indias-indigenous-people/?fbclid=IwAR2qiOBnZzAOmsy1acFYSCNK4jAOj4A1GHIXGZKRi58cdR75TbhrWaaXrB8

[11] Jharkhand Land Bank Portal inaugurated, Times of India 5 January 2016, at https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/good-governance/jharkhand/Jharkhand-land-bank-portal-inaugurated/articleshow/50448318.cms

[12]https://adivasihunkar.com/2019/01/10/a-memorandum-to-the-governor-of-jharkhand-against-the-land-bank/

[13]https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/governance/odisha-govt-lures-industries-via-land-banks-alienates-people-from-commons-61496

[14] https://thewire.in/politics/jharkhand-religious-freedom-bill-tribes-cnt-spt

[15]https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/the-pathalgadi-rebellion/article23530998.ece

[16]https://thewire.in/rights/police-targeting-pathalgadi-supporters-in-the-jharkhand-gang-rape-case-report

[17] https://thewire.in/rights/jharkhand-pathalgadi-movement-abduction-violence

[18] https://thewire.in/rights/jharkhand-pathalgadi-movement-gang-rape-police-firing

[19] https://thewire.in/rights/jharkhand-pathalgadi-movement-abduction-violence

[20]https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/pathalgadi-a-naxal-act-to-spread-anarchy-jual-oram/articleshow/65047474.cms

[21] https://thewire.in/rights/pathalgadi-movement-adivasis-stan-swamy-sedition

[22]https://thewire.in/rights/amit-topno-journalist-jharkhand-pathalgadi

[23]https://www.indiaspend.com/taking-over-fertile-land-for-adani-group-from-protesting-farmers-jharkhand-government-manipulates-new-law-meant-to-protect-them/

[24]https://caravanmagazine.in/communities/coal-mining-hasdeo-forests-protests?fbclid=IwAR3zREf6lEKYixW0JyTLqFR8VcMRw_SuoJTeJUUsTBbj6k-6vUWKOdXKXsc

[25] https://adivasihunkar.com/2019/01/12/is-the-pathalgadi-movement-in-tribal-areas-anti-constitutional/

[26]https://www.sabrangindia.in/article/10000-jharkhand-tribals-protest-against-sc-order-evicting-forest-dwellers-ancestral-lands?fbclid=IwAR1bJtCAUunTZG9CSSC5yIKp2agz3Swdu3j4Rmc_V6ajop1qSuQPmhSpHOI

[27] https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/how-to-kill-a-forest-adivasis-forest-dwellers-evicted-conservationists-5603789/?fbclid=IwAR0wtLtosyCJ59xYX83pYGj1sbnuxDSbmgmAk9ib0fKLEhX9NVooqDiCHsw

[28] https://www.counterview.in/2019/02/100-indian-world-conservationists.html?fbclid=IwAR3daOkTb0tQi3toO3wFhfWVx-s3KotLPgY1NBa2vwjT4hBKUr3S847IUQo

[29] https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/fear-and-loathing-in-the-north-east-citizenship-bill-brings-region-to-boiling-point/article25986291.ece

[30] http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=education.Human_Rights_Legal.Natural_Resources_Management_in_Manipur_By_Jiten_Yumnam

[31]http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2019/mar/04/harried-tribals-of-chakidi-vow-to-boycott-upcoming-elections-1946467.html?fbclid=IwAR3OF7TphY0Ura_3Dd6_Amsoatbn5TA76Hj9OV2WMT4tDrSRia0nlf4iBjU

[32]https://adivasihunkar.com/2019/01/16/the-betrayed-asurs-of-jharkhand/

[33]https://adivasihunkar.com/2019/03/05/i-was-forced-to-sign-on-the-land-acquisition-papers-sukhram-munda/

[34]https://www.epw.in/node/153848/pdf?0=ip_login_no_cache%3Dae806304c296901be13ee691f89f03db

[35]https://www.anthro.ox.ac.uk/files/jaso10120182247pdf

[36]http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/politics/aguide-to-australias-stolen-generations#toc0

[37] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/15/justin-trudeau-pledges-reconciliation-canada-aboriginal-abuse

[38] https://www.indiatoday.in/union-budget-2018/story/budget-2018-eklavya-model-schools-in-tribal-majority-areas-by-2022-says-arun-jaitley-1158993-2018-02-01

[39] https://www.survivalinternational.org/articles/3524-residentialschools

[40]https://www.downtoearth.org.in/coverage/miseducation-in-bastar-13347

[41] https://kalingatv.com/state/kiss-conferred-with-ncst-leadership-award-for-exemplary-services-towards-st/

[42] https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/the-idea-of-kiss-2/

[43] https://scroll.in/article/738028/chhattisgarh-is-closing-down-schools-in-areas-where-it-should-expand-them

[44]http://zeenews.india.com/news/odisha/orissa-cm-ordersprobe-into-sexual-abuse-of-tribal-girls_612376.html

[45] https://www.indiatoday.in/india/east/story/dhanora-sexual-assault-case-neeta-naag-vinod-naag-kanya-ashram-tribal-school-superintendent-dhanora-village-chhattisgarh-184413-2014-03-11

[46] http://indiacsr.in/dr-priti-adani-fronts-adani-vidya-mandir-surguja-chhattisgarh-educate-underprivileged/

[47] https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/news/story/chattisgarh-dantewada-educationcity-109956-2012-07-17

[48] https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/vedanta-funds-education-of-100-underprivileged-tribal-children/article23080857.ece

[49] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSIaAIP-wwM

[50] https://www.outlookindia.com/newswire/story/success-story-of-nagalands-communitisation-programme/575565

[51] https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/economy/reverse-the-learning-57776

Research Paper

Land is Life for Adivasis

by Gladson Dungdung

jharkhand-tribals-movement-759

“Jan Denge, Jameen Nahi Denge” (We shall surrender our lives but not land). This has been the most popular slogan of the Adivasis’ Movements against Displacement (AMD) across India for last couple of decades, which clearly indicates about the meaning and importance of land for them. ‘Adivasi’ literally means the aboriginal or original inhabitant or first settler of the land.[i] Undoubtedly, the Adivasis are the indigenous peoples of India, which is legitimatized by the Supreme Court of India through its judgement (SLP (Cr) No.10367 of 2010 Kailas & others Vs State of Maharashtra), stating that the tribal people (Scheduled Tribes or Adivasis) are the descendants of the original inhabitants of India[ii]. However, the Indian government denies their Indigenous Identity and recognizes them merely as the scheduled tribes through the Indian Constitution and laws even today.

There are 744 Adivasi or indigenous ethnic groups in India but only 645 of them are identified as the Scheduled Tribes. As per the Census 2011, the Adivasis are 8 percent of the total population with 104 million people, treated as the most marginalized and vulnerable communities in India. An Adivasi legend Dr. Ramdayal Munda describes the true characters of the Adivasi community as ‘casteless, classless, based on equality, community based economic system, co-existence with the nature, consent based self-rule, dignity and autonomy[iii]. The Adivasis live in or around the nature. The government’s data suggests that 89.9 percent of them still live in the rural areas, and merely 10.1 percent[iv] of them have shifted to urban centers. The Adivasi economy, which is also known as the community or need based economy fully depends on forest and agriculture.

The natural resources are the most essential sources of livelihood for the Adivasis but the land is most important among them. However, they do not perceive the land merely as a livelihood resource but they consider it as their heritage, history, autonomy, identity, culture, existence and life. They believe that their sole existence relies on the land. Therefore, if the land is lost, their existence is gone, which could be seen in the cities like Jamshedpur, Bokaro and Ranchi. The so-called civilized people treat the land merely as property or commodity, and sell it in the market rate to make money as much as possible, but the land is life for the Adivasis. That’s the reason why they have been struggling to protect their land for the centuries.

In the ancient period, the Adivasis possessed undisputed ownership rights over the natural resources and they judiciously used these resources to fulfil their needs[v]. They enjoyed autonomy, peace and prosperity with the nature. The situation rapidly changed with the Aryan invasion and turned worse during the British rule in India. On the one hand, the Aryans destroyed the Adivasi civilization, denied them their indigenous identity and did not accept them as fellow human beings, and the Britishers, on the other hand, used violence against the innocent Adivasis for grabbing their land, territory and resources, declared them uncivilized and even listed 127 Adivasi ethnic communities as criminal tribes[vi].

The British introduced a centrally organized administration, a judiciary and a police system. They also introduced the concept of private property as opposed to the traditional notion of collective usufructuary rights of the community. Thus, the natural resources of the community were coined as ‘property’ and individual owners were created. The communal resources were considered as the ‘eminent’ domain and taken over. The forests and other individually unclaimed fallow lands were declared as the property of the State.[vii] Gradually, the government enacted various policies and laws, which induced the marginalization of the Adivasis. They were deprived from the natural resources merely for the government’s revenue yielding measures. The Adivasi way of life was destroyed by imposing revenue on land and duties on the forest produces. The Land Acquisition Act 1894 was the last nail on the coffin, which resulted a huge deprivation of the Adivasis from their land, territory and resources.

After India’s independence, the land alienation was on the rampant. There have been three types of major land alienation of Adivasis – legal, illegal and forcefully. The India State used the Land Acquisition Act 1894 for so-called legal land acquisition and ‘eminent domain’ for forceful acquisition of the Adivasis’ land under the tag of ‘public interest’, ‘national interest’ and ‘development’. The estimated data suggests that 28.2 million Adivasis have already been alienated, uprooted and displaced from their land, territory and resources in the name of public interest, national interest and economic growth & development since 1947 to 2004. Despite the prohibition of the Adivasis’ land alienation legally, the Annual report of the Ministry of Rural Development (Government of India) unfolds that 60,464 cases regarding 85,777.22 acres of illegal transfer of Adivasis’ lands were registered till 2001-2002[viii]. Furthermore, 2,608 cases of illegal land transfer were registered in 2003-2004, 2,657 cases in 2004-2005, 3,230 cases in 2005-2006, 3789 cases in 2006-2007 and 5382 cases in 2007-2008, which clearly indicates that the cases of illegal land alienation are increasing rapidly. The Adivasis’ alienation from their land, territory and resources, has resulted in their impoverishment, destruction and extinction. They have lost their identity, autonomy, language, culture and tradition.

However, today, the Adivasis have been facing even more threat of being alienated, uprooted and displaced from their land, territory and resources. The present nexus among the State, the Corporate Houses and the political parties, seems to be busy in amending the safeguarding laws made for Adivasis, suppressing the dissent voices and crushing down the democratic Adivasis Movements through police and military operations. For instance, the state government of Jharkhand amended the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act 2013, attempted to amend the CNT Act 1908 and SPT Act 1949 and constituted Land Bank, where 2.1 million acres of community land, which includes the commons, sacred grooves and forest land, enlisted. Besides, the government has also brought the Industrial and investment promotion policy 2016 to create an industrial corridor in the state. Therefore, there is a thrust need to understand, respect and acknowledge the Adivasi’s perspective about land. Pressurize the Central and state governments for the enforcement of the safeguarding laws, constitutional provisions and Supreme Court’s judgements regarding the Adivasis rights. And fight for the protection of the Adivasis’ land, territory and resources.

References: 

[i] Dungdung, Gladson. 2013. Whose Country is it Anyway? Kolkata : Adivaani.

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

[iii] Dungdung. 2016. Adivasi aur Vanadhikar. New Delhi: Prithvi Prakashan.

[iv] Statistical profile of Scheduled Tribes in India 2013. Ministry of Tribal Affairs (Govt. of India).

[v] Dungdung. 2016. Adivasi aur Vanadhikar. New Delhi: Prithvi Prakashan.

[vi] Dungdung, Gladson. 2013. Whose Country is it Anyway? Kolkata : Adivaani.

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

[viii] Annual Report 2002-03, Ministry of Rural Development (Govt. of India).

Research Paper

A Vision for Adivasis

By Gladson Dungdung

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Introduction

‘Adivasis’ literally means aboriginal, first settlers, or the original dwellers, or the indigenous folks of the land[1]. The term ‘Adivasi’ was highly popularised by the Adivasi scholar Jaipal Singh Munda during the Jharkhand statehood Movement[2]. Undoubtedly, Adivasis are the Indigenous Peoples of India[3]. In the Indian Constitution, they are classified as the Scheduled Tribes (ST), and guaranteed certain special rights and privileges under the fifth & sixth schedules, Part XVI and Article 46 of the Constitution[4]. There are 705 individual Adivasi ethnic groups notified as the Scheduled Tribes in 30 States and Union Territories[5]. However, several Adivasi ethnic groups are yet to be notified, in that case the percentage of the Adivasi population would certainly go up, which will have direct impact in the demography and politics of the country.

Unfortunately, the Indian Government had repeatedly declined about the existence of Adivasis as the Indigenous Peoples of India in front of the United Nations’ Working Group on Indigenous Populations, nevertheless, on September 13, 2007 the Indian State became party to the United Nations declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was of course, the first official admission of the Adivasis as India’s Indigenous Peoples. Finally, it was legitimatized by the Apex Court of India on January 5, 2011, while hearing on an appeal (the special leave petition (Cr) No. 10367 of 2010 Kailas & others Vs State of Maharashtra), the Court said that the tribal people (Scheduled Tribes or Adivasis) are the descendants of the original inhabitants of India and as a group one of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities in India[6]. However, the India Government has failed to take adequate measures to protect their rights.

According to the census 2011, the Adivasis are 8.6 percent[7] of India’s total population, 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 and the rest 3 percent live in other states[8].  The sex ratio for the overall population is 940 females per 1000 males, whereas the sex ratio of Adivasi community is 990 females per thousand males[9], manifests the status of gender based equality in the community, which is much better than the Indian society despite having more of or less the same kind of patriarchal social order. The economic liberalisation, globalization and privatization have created terrible impact in social fabric, economy, politics, culture and idea of community development. The self-dependent community has been almost compelled to become Government dependent due to various factors rising out of wrong governmental policies.

This paper is an attempt to understand and visualize a conclusive and achievable vision for the Adivasi community, based on an analysis of historical facts and the present day context. The vision would comprise of short term and long term goals, to be achieved jointly by the communities in democratic and participatory ways.

Historical facts and Present Context

The Adivasis have been living in or around the forests with the rhythm akin to nature and thus their life cycle moves round nature. They do not merely depend on the natural resources for their livelihood, but their sole identity, culture, autonomy, conscience, tradition, ethos and existence are based on it[10]. The Government’s data suggests that 89.9 percent of them still live in the rural areas, and merely 10.1 percent[11] of them have shifted to urban centers. An Adivasi legend Dr. Ramdayal Munda describes the true characters of the Adivasi community as ‘casteless, classless, based on equality, community based economic system, co-existence with the nature, consent based self-rule, dignity and autonomy.[12] Regrettably, these inherent characteristics of the community are rapidly disappearing.

The Adivasi economy could be termed as need based or community centric, with hardly any consideration shown in profit making endeavours.[13]. The rural market was more a place for sharing commodities than selling goods to gain profit. Most of the goods were produced by the community, for instance, oil from seeds, broom, mat, edibles, agricultural equipment, etc. Modernisation with all its positive impacts, on one side, has become detrimental to Adivasi community by imposing on it the profit based economic system and thus all the ills of market dominant economy. Thus, the Adivasis who produced to exchange goods for goods in the rural markets have been strangled by the profit based rural markets limiting them almost as consumers.

Historically, in the ancient period, the Adivasis possessed undisputed ownership rights over the natural resources and they judiciously used these resources for their existence[14]. Consequently, they enjoyed autonomy, peace and prosperity. The situation rapidly changed with the Aryan invasion and turned worse during the British rule in India. On the one hand, the Aryans destroyed the Adivasi civilization, denied them their indigenous identity and did not accept them as fellow human beings, and the Britishers, on the other hand, used violence against the innocent Adivasis for grabbing their land, territory and resources and even listed few of them as criminal tribes.

The British introduced a centrally organized administration, a judiciary and a police system. They also introduced the concept of private property as opposed to the traditional notion of collective usufructuary rights of the community. The communal 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.[15]Gradually, the government enacted various policies, which induced the marginalization of the Adivasis. They were deprived from the natural resources merely for the government’s revenue yielding measures. The “Adivasi economy and identity” was destroyed by imposing revenue on land and duties on the forest produces.

It is a historical fact to be known that almost one hundred years before India’s first recorded independence struggle of 1857, the Adivasis had revolted against the British colonial rule. This is the community that has a history of struggle for more than three centuries. At the very outset, the community resisted to be ruled over by outsiders.  They had been freedom loving people and they valued their freedom to govern and to live as a community. To cite few examples, the Paharia uprising of 1772, the Kol uprising of 1832, Bhumij movement of 1832-33, the Santal Hul of 1855, etc. are against the imposition of the idea of State on them. The community could not comprehend the concept of paying taxes for lands and forest produces because they were fully aware that everything was from the bounty of nature. Nevertheless, the British government forced levy and taxes on them.

Unfortunately, even after Indian independence the status quo remains the same. The Indian rulers were not different from the Britishers when it concerned the monopoly over natural resources. The vested interests, the methods of oppression and the basic ideology remain the same.[16] The Adivasis’ rights over the natural resources were snatched away through various legislations in the name of national interest, economic growth and development. The data suggests that ‘from 1951 to 2004, over 37 million people were displaced in the name of development in India. 26 million were forcibly displaced due to dams and canals construction alone. The Government accepts a national figure of over 50 million arising from ‘development-related-displacement’.[17] Perhaps, only 25 percent people were rehabilitated in some way and 75 percent were completely left out who are still waiting for rehabilitation. [18]

At the same time, there has been a huge illegal land alienation in the community despite having special legislation for safeguarding their land. According to the Annual report of the Ministry of Rural Development (Government of India) 60,464 cases regarding 85,777.22 acres of illegal transfer of land were registered till 2001-2002[19]. Out of these 34,608 cases of 46,797.36 acres of land were considered for hearing and rest 25,856 cases related to 38,979.86 acres of land were dismissed. But after the hearing, merely 21,445 cases regarding 29,829.7 acres of lands were given possession to the original holders and rest remains with the non-Adivasis. Furthermore, 2,608 cases of illegal land transfer were registered in 2003-2004, 2,657 cases in 2004-2005, 3,230 cases in 2005-2006, 3789 cases in 2006-2007 and 5382 cases in 2007-2008[20], which clearly indicates that the cases of illegal land alienation is increasing rapidly.

However, the India’s war for natural resources continues even today in the name of cleansing the CPI-Maoist.[21] This has resulted in gross violation of civil and political rights of the Adivasis. The cases of brutal killing, molestation, rape, torture and falsely implications of innocent Adivasi men, women, girls, boys and children are countless. At a very rough and minimum estimate, from 2001 to 2016, 2,000 innocent villagers have been murdered by security forces – 1,000 in Chhattisgarh, 700 in Jharkhand and 300 in Odisha.  Similarly, at least 2,000 Adivasi girls and women have been sexually abused by men wearing government uniforms – 1,500 women in Chhattisgarh, 300 in Jharkhand and 200 in Odisha. According to various reports, Adivasis form the vast majority of 27,000 arrested as ‘Maoists’ and ‘encroachers on government land’ in these three States, under various laws, including UAPA, POTA, Arms Act, Explosions Act, 17 CLA Act and Forest Conservation Act 1980 – 17,000 in Chhattisgarh, 8,000 in Jharkhand and 2,000 in Odisha. Ironically, the Indian State regularly denies to take action against the perpetrators despite several commissions reports have exposed the naked truth.

The Adivasi community seems to be the most vulnerable and politically voiceless though there has been political participation in terms of number as there are 47 members in the Indian Parliament and more than 500 members in the Legislative Assemblies of several States, who were elected from the reserved constituencies to represent the Adivasi community. However, these representatives are either voiceless or under the burden of party politics. They are highly obelized to the political party they represent. Consequently, the Adivasi issues are not raised in the corridors of power. It seems clear that the community suffers from leadership vacuum. Most of the Gram Sabhas and other traditional bodies are also under the clutch of the political parties. The community does not possess political power in the real sense due to lack of the politicisation of the community.

The colonial concept of civilisation, and the Indian idea of mainstreaming and inclusion, has resulted in alienation of Adivasis from their land, territory, resources, identity, culture, languages and ethos. The invasion of different communities in different periods in Adivasis’ territories, and civilization and mainstreaming processes carried out by the colonial masters, and later, by the Indian government, after portraying the Adivasis as uncivilized, most backward, sub-human and so on, resulted in their cultural alienation. For instance, the Munda’s started writing their surname as ‘Singh’ and started wearing white thread similar like Brahmins to show their superiority among the Adivasi ethnic groups. They attempted to portray their group as much pure as Brahmis and attached them by writing Singh instead of Munda.

Similarly, the Kherwar and Chero used ‘Singh’ as their surname to associate themselves with the Rajput. However, later, they realized it as a blunder, and made corrections to some extent. But by and large, the cultural alienation has continued. The Adivasis have alienated themselves from Adivasi identity by not writing their surname in public places, changing their food habits, altering their life style, making a shift from community life to individual life, and from community based economy to market economy. Adivasis had inscribed their name in golden letters in national hockey. Today, their representation is dwindling in games and sports especially in hockey, which was their strength. Children tend to imitate cricketers and are seen playing cricket instead of hockey and football inside the forest to cite an example.

The constitutional provision of reservation, modern education system and mainstreaming processes, created a middle class in the Adivasi community, which took the path of huge cultural alienation. This middle class started adopting most of the cultural practices of the modern Indian society. For instance, individualism is placed above community, discrimination is created on the basis of ethnic groups in the line of caste, colour, status, race and gender etc. The community is also alienated from land, territory and resources. The idea of Adivasi development has taken backseat. The traditional health system, education system and the idea of rural infrastructure creation through community cooperation are slowly disappearing. The worst is that the modern day health facilities, educational endeavours and rural development programs have failed to enhance the life of Adivasis.

The status of education and health of Adivasis community is the worst among the lot in the country. On 1st April 2010, the Indian Government enforced the children’s right to free education through the Right to Education (RTE) Act. According to the Census 2011, the literacy rate is 59 percent, with 68.5 percent male and 56.9 percent[22] female literacy rate. The quality education is a far dream in the Government run schools. The children of Naxal affected states are trapped in violence, highly knowledgeable about the latest weapons – AK-47s, SLRs, and various other kinds of gun, pistol, bomb and landmine, which the security forces and Naxals use to target each other. But they hardly know anything from their text books. The students of class 7 were unable to read the text books of class 5 properly, nor could they even solve mathematical problems of class 3[23]. The government run schools have become food serving centres and the teachers are busy with various government programs with hardly any time to teach leading to a high increase in dropout rates from class eight to ten that is almost a staggering 70 percent.

The status of Adivasi children and women is pathetic. According to the Government data, the Neonatal mortality rate is 39.9, post-neonatal rate is 22.3, infant mortality rate is 62.1, child mortality rate is 35.8 and under five mortality rate is 95.7 in per 1000 live birth of Adivasi children[24]. This is higher than the national average of NNMR 39, PNNR 18, IMR 57, CMR 18.4, and UFR 74.3 subsequently. The Adivasi women and children are suffering from anemia and malnourishment. For instance, 85% of women and 80% of children of West Singhbhum distict of Jharkhand are anemic, and 64.3% children aged below five are underweight.[25] The availability of the health infrastructure in the Adivasis’ regions is another area of serious concern. If we see the all India data, 27,958 Health Sub-Centres (HSCs) are operational, against the requirement of 31,257, and the shortfall is 6,796, which is a huge number. Similarly, 3,957 Primary Health Centres are functional against the requirement of 4,674, and shortfall is 1,267. In terms of the Community Health Centers (CHCs), 998 are operational against the requirement of 1,156, making a shortfall of 309 (see Table 2). This data exposes the non-seriousness of the Government(s) on the issue of Adivasis’ health.

In the above situation and circumstances, the Adivasis community needs to envisage its future for next five decades or for a century. The vision could comprise of five major aspects – social transformation, economic prosperity, political empowerment, cultural revival and community centric development. The vision could be realised by the active participation of the community, the sound use of democratic institutions and constitutional and legal provisions.

  1. Social Transformation

The majority of the Adivasis, from impoverished to the well-off, living under the stigma of being the part of Adivasi community, which has been fixed as the most backward, uncivilised, illiterate, unconscious, barbarian, sub-human and wild, resulted in the loss of confidence, mental slavery, dependency, multiple alienation and breakdown of the social fabric. It happened because the Adivasi philosophy was neither scripted nor propagated though it is one of the best philosophies in India. At the same time, the dehumanisation processes continued. The Adivasi community is in much better position comparing to the Indian society in several aspects, which were never highlighted instead the so-called mainstreaming processes were carried out by the Government(s) as well as non-government organisations especially the right wings fundamentalist forces, who intend to bury the Adivasi identity.

The social transformation should take place in the Adivasi community on the basis of its philosophy. The doctrine comprises of co-existence and symbiotic relationship with the nature, community life, liberty, equality, justice, rights, inclusive development, need based economic system, consent based democracy and fraternity (caring and sharing). Coexistence with nature is the top of Adivasi philosophy. Adivasis live with nature and and care its wellbeing. The concept of ‘exploitation’ has no place in Adivasi philosophy, therefore, they do not exploit the natural resources but use it to meet their daily needs while caring for nature. Adivasi philosophy will also address the ecological crisis, the world is facing today because of the their environmental friendly attitude and dealings. Liberty is a rich human value, and it is one of the pillars of any form of colonisation. Therefore, concepts of development needs to be aligned with the liberty.

Equality is another pillar of the Adivasi philosophy. There are two parts in equality – i) general equality and ii) gender based equality. The Indian social structure is largely based on caste, race and gender based inequality whereas there is no such concept of inequality in Adivasi philosophy. A poor person and a person from a well-off family can work together in the agriculture field, share a meal, dance holding each other’s hands, drink rice beer and attend social functions in each other families. Similarly, there is no such gender based discrimination, therefore, both boys and girls are treated equally. The happy consequence is that female foeticide and dowry based torture and killing are unheard of among the Adivasis. However, the processes of mainstreaming has diluted this rich disposition by incorporating the concept of discrimination within tribal ethnic groups on the basis of caste, race and gender, which is turning out to be detrimental to the Adivasi community. Therefore, the lofty concept of equality needs to be brought back into  practice through the Gram Sabhas and other traditional institutions.

There is no such concept of competition in the Adivasi philosophy rather it encourages cooperation, caring and sharing, which results in inclusive growth and development. The community does not care only for the protection of the rights of human beings but the entrain rights of animals are also taken care with required diligence. For instance, a hunting dog is given equal share of the prey and the Adivasis do not consume milk to protect the right to food of the calf. Besides, the consent based democracy and need based economic system facilitate the Adivasi community to maintain its coexistence with nature. Thus, the Adivasis do not indulge in the evil of manipulation and exploitive practices as they hold cooperation as the mantra of their life.

The justice delivery is part of the Adivasi philosophy. However, it has been suppressed by the introduction of the modern judiciary. The Indian State has officially accepted through the Forest Rights Act 2006 that historical injustice has been inflicted on the Adivasis. But the injustice has been continuing in the same pace even today. The modern judiciary system has totally failed in justice delivery to the Adivasi community precisely because the judiciary is under the clutch of the people from the dominant class as well as the fact that the Adivasis do not have the resources to fight a case. Justice is very costly and not affordable. Within the given context, the Adivasi community has to be educated to settle all its issues, as far as possible,  in the community itself through the Traditional judiciary system cultivating a broader perspective drawn from the customary, legal and constitutional framework. An empowerment process has to be seriously initiated to empower the people on constitutional rights and the functions of the legal system in the country. Most importantly, the educated youth have to aspire and compete to participate in the Indian judiciary and legal practices.

Although the traditional judiciary system of Adivasis, which is known for delivering overnight justice, also faced heavy criticisms and was defamed as the kangaroo court for adopting illegal and unconstitutional punishment to culprits in some stray cases but the overall picture has been bright as it has done tremendous work in delivering fair justice to the Adivasis within matter of weeks in very nominal cost in cases related to land conflict, family dispute, marriage problems, cattle related dispute, etc. For instance, Parha Raja Simon Oraon of Bero block located in Ranchi district of Jharkhand is one such example, where justice is delivered to the villagers within three weeks. The Adivasis of seven villages under his jurisdiction, do not go to court for any dispute. The traditional system needs to be aligned with the Gram Sabhas under the traditional self-governance system. The enforcement of the traditional judiciary system will also have positive impact in the Adivasi economy and building up the fraternity.

The Adivasi community needs to get rid of two major social evils – witch hunting and alcoholism. Both have heavily damaged the community. (repetition)  Though, happily the community maintains gender equality, the witch killing has marred its image in its attitude towards poor women deemed witches. For instance, approximately 1500 Adivasi women were brutally killed in Jharkhand between 2001 to 2016 holding them witches. Witch hunting is a serious gender based violence in Adivasi community where women are abused, tortured and killed. Most of the victims are either widows or old women, who are really helpless. The Adivasi community has to resolve to get rid of witch hunting through dialogue and critical awareness.

The excess use of alcohol is another social evil, which has heavily blocked the progress of Adivasi community. Many women have been widowed because of the excessive consumption of alcoholism by married men. Families have been broken and the lives of children have been put at stake.  The ill has affected the Adivasi youth too to the extent of  destroying their carrier Needless to say that rice bear is part of Adivasi culture, which is offered to the deity as well as the ancestors during festivals, religious rituals and social events. However, under the cultural tag, the local and branded liquors have comfortably entered into Adivasi community resulting in accidental deaths, abuses, killings, wife battering and alienation from land. Therefore, there is a thrust need to curb alcoholism, which could be done by having a series of open dialogues in the Gram Sabhas and other traditional local bodies. Since the Gram Sabha is authorized under the PESA Act 1996 to prohibit the use of alcohol and have control over the local markets, Gram Sabhas need to be strengthened. The Adivasi community should have a vision to rebuild it on the basis of its philosophy. The doctrine teaches about liberty, equality, fraternity, respect for all, live with nature, time bound and sound justice and need based economy.

  1. Economic prosperity

The biggest economic challenge for the Adivasi community is to protect the ‘need based economic system’ or ‘community economy’ from the organized attack of the market economy. There has been constant attempt to submerge everything into the market economy, which has resulted in the centralisation of the economy in the hands of few people. Therefore, instead of handing over the economic resources to the private business entities under the government’s recent well legitimatized ‘cashless economy’, the community needs to enhance its traditional ways of cooperation, caring and sharing of goods and services by keeping the concept of ‘profit’ away from the community and market, which will bring sustainability, equity and equal economic prosperity. At the same time, the rural markets need to be maintained as a place of sharing goods and services, which presently have become highly profit making centres. Instead of ‘cashless economy’ the community could play a big role in promoting ‘community economy’, which can address everyone’s needs and the emerging ecological crisis as well.

The community needs to have control over the village economy through the Gram Sabha, precisely, because the village economy is fully controlled by the outside business class people, resulting in migration and trafficking of the Adivasi youths. Therefore, the Adivasis need to take up the micro entrepreneurship as a challenge, which will facilitate in gaining back the control on village economy in the long run. At the same time, the community should produce and manufacture necessary goods to meet its needs instead of fully depending on the market for everything, and that is quite possible as the community has a long legacy of production and manufacturing to meet its needs.

It is known fact that the Adivasi economy is based on agriculture and forest. 90 percent population still depend on agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry. However, the lack of irrigation facility, technical support and investment, the economy seems to be more or less stagnant. Therefore, the investment, technical support and availability of irrigation facility can make a huge difference. For instance, in Jharkhand; 90 mega Dams, 400 medium Dams and 11,878 smalls Dams are available but the water doesn’t reach to the agriculture fields of Adivasis rather the water has been provided to the steel and mining industries. If the water of these Dams are channelized to the farms through canal and lift irrigation facilities, there would be production of multi-crops. Similarly, the value addition on the forest produces would strengthen the Adivasi economy. The community should be given complete ownership on the forest resources.  The Agriculture, fishery, horticulture, animal husbandry and forestry need to be aliened and converted into small scale industries through cooperatives, which will enhance the village economy.

The Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) could play a big role in stabilising the Adivasi economy. Government of India should ensure the allocation of 8.6 percent budget under the TSP from the central budget per annum as per the Constitutional provision under the Article 275. This fund needs to be spent on human resource development programmes, village development projects, welfare schemes and economic activities (animal husbandry, traditional poultry, farming, horticulture and micro entrepreneurship). The non-utilisation, diversion and misuse of TSP funds are reasons for halting economic activities. The TSP should have a strong monitoring system with involvement of the community. The most thrust need is the transformation of the Adivasi population from the State’s burden into human resources, which could be done by maximum unitisation of the TSP fund in imparting higher education, technical knowledge and entrepreneurship skills to Adivasi Youths. This will create new opportunities towards economic prosperity.

Mining and industry are other vital areas where the paradigm shift is the need of the hour. The major minerals and other natural resources are located in the Adivasi regions of the country, resulting in heavy mining and industrialisation. Unfortunately, the Adivasi population is still deprived of the basic needs. They  hardly get any benefit from industrialisation processes. Therefore, the ‘shareholder’ should be added in the present practice of compensation and rehabilitation packages. The project affected Adivasis should be made shareholders in the mining projects or industries along with compensation and rehabilitation packages, which will guarantee them livelihood possibilities from generation to generation. There would be a flow of economy into Adivasi villages, which will enhance their standard of living, health, education, nutrition, etc.

Tourism could be another area of economic activity. Since, the Adivasi regions are full of touristic hotspots with numerous waterfalls, natural sceneries, lovely lanndscapes and rising and falling hills, tourists could be easily attracted into the region, which, in turn, will create new economic opportunities. The Central and State Governments should provide the basic infrastructures like approach roads, communication facilities, enhancing the spot along with availing drinking water and sanitation facilities. The Gram Sabha should be given ownership of these spots and the members be trained in the art of tourism. Gram Sabha will collect the entry fee from the tourists and also provide them the basic facility and security. The Gram Sabha can pay 10 to 15% revenue to the State, 50% on staffs and rest could go to the Gram Sabha’s fund.  This will create new job opportunities for the Adivasis and also strengthen the village economy.

  1. Political empowerment

Politics decides the future of any nation, society and community today. However, the Adivasi community is not able to influence Indian politics for multiple reasons. There permeates the culture of silence in the community and a slavery mind set among the Adivasi political leaders. Therefore, they are not able to use the democratic institutions to the advantage of the Adivasi communities. The politicisation of the Adivasi community has not yet happened in a systematic way. For instance, there have been endless mass resistances against displacement across the Adivasi regions in the country, there were also police firing and brutalities on the public protests, but whenever there is election of local bodies, Legislative Assemblies or Parliament, the Adivasis cast their votes in favour of those political parties, whose economic policies alienate them from land, forests and other natural resources. The majority of the Adivasi population becomes the traditional voters of any political party instead of replacing them from the power on the basis of their performance, policies and programmes. Jaipal Singh Munda had brought the Adivasi politics to the centre stage, but later, he was trapped. Thus, the status quo remains the same. Therefore, the culture of silence needs to be converted into the culture of critical questioning rising out of awareness and education, sharing information and imparting analytical skill. The politicisation of the Adivasi community will bring about the necessary change in the community.

The reestablishment of self-rule through the strengthening of Gram Sabha is another critical area to work. The Gram Sabha is said to be the most powerful body in the democratic system, which has been legitimatized through various legislations like PESA 1996, Forest Rights Act 2006 and Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013. However, in most of the villages, the Gram Sabhas have either become the political party centric institutions or the Government scheme delivery centres. The Gram Sabhas are unable to play a decisive role for the community. The common Adivasis do not really practice their power due to lack of information, legal knowledge and authoritarian attitude. Consequently, the political parties, corporate houses, NGOs, Extremist Groups and other vested interest groups have gained control over the Gram Sabhas. The people of each village need to be given critical awareness about the role, power and authority of the Gram Sabhas. If the Gram Sabhas are strengthened, the major issues like land alienation, corporate resource grab, trafficking, migration, etc. could easily be curbed.

Historically, the Adivasis had their own system of governance, which was free from the police system. The traditional system of Governance still exists among several ethnic groups. For instance, there is Manjhi-Pargana system among the Santhals, Manki-Munda system among the Munda Adivasis, Doklo-Sohor system among Kharias and Parha system among the Oraon Adivasis. Though majority of them respect their traditional system of Governance the imposition of the so-called modern democratic system has played down the importance of the traditional one. The voting system has overshadowed ‘consent’, which was real democracy, where everyone had a say in the decision making process. Presently, the traditional system of Governance is restricted to social affairs and its political role has been curtailed. Consequently, the political leaders are riding over the traditional system of governance to secure their vote banks and also having control on the community. This needs to be reversed. The community should have control over politics through the traditional system of Governance. It should play a vital role in selecting effective political representatives for the local bodies, Legislative Assemblies and Parliament.

The political leadership building is another core area of intervention. Needless to say that there is a complete lack of the vocal, critical, analytical, inspirational and trustworthy political leaders in the community. It is a big problem that 104 million Adivasis have no credible voice in the Indian Parliament despite having 47 political representatives. The major problem is that there is lack of perspective, lack of deep knowledge on issues and lack of skills to influence the power of corridor. There is also lack of research team and intellectual support to these representatives. Thus, the Adivasi issues are not raised in the corridor of power. The Adivasi community needs to build credible leadership, create an intellectual support group to the political leadership and create a centre, where political leadership could be trained.

The political unity is another thrust area that needs intervention. Although the Adivasis can play a decisive role in the regional politics in several states, which can have a direct impact in the National politics of India but due to multiple divisions, they have totally failed. There are clear divisions on the basis of ethnicity, religion and region as well. However, the division on the ground of religion has damaged the political unity of the community. The right wing Hindutva forces have harvested on the division in different parts of the country. The RSS and its allies have convinced sections of Adivasis that the Christian Adivasis are their main enemy. Consequently, they are engaged in religious conflicts and their votes are largely divided between mainline parties. This division has resulted in land alienation, corporate land grab, police brutalities, race based atrocities and what not? There is a thrust need of political unity among the Adivasis, which could be on the basis of the identity of being an Adivasi irrespective of religious beliefs and expressions.

The enforcement of the constitutional provisions, laws and policies need serious attention. There have been adequate provisions for the Adivasis in the Indian Constitution but due to lack of enforcement, they have not got the benefit. For instance, provisions of fifth and sixth schedule, reservation, Article 46, Article 275, Article 19(1)(5). Similarly, there are several laws like PESA 1996, SC/ST PoA 1989, Forest Act 2006, Land Laws, etc. but the fact is the Adivasis have been alienated from their lands, territories and resources. There are also policies like Rehabilitation & Resettlement policy, Domicile policy but the Adivasis do not get the benefits of these policies. Therefore, the Government(s) have to ensure that the constitutional provisions, laws and policies are enforced at the ground. At the same time, there is also need to introduce Adivasi centric laws, policies and programmes.

However, the prime long-term political vision of the Adivasi community should be the establishment of autonomy in governance within Adivasi traditions, self-determination and self-rule. It has been proved that since, formation of the India State, the Adivasis have been alienated from their lands, territories and resources forcefully by the use of guns, laws and policies. There has also been several policy level talks on the issues of their rights and justice but actually, no such strong attempt has been taken to change the status quo. The President of India and the Governors of the states were made the custodians of Adivasis through the Constitutional provisions, and the district collectors or deputy commissioners were made watchdog of their land through various legislations but these legal authorities totally have failed in protecting Adivasis’ rights. This clearly implies that the State has totally failed in protecting the rights of Adivasis and also in justice delivery. Therefore, the only way to protect the Adivasis rights is by acquiring autonomy, self-determination and self-rule in the Adivasis’ territories within the constitutional setup of Indian union.

  1. Cultural revival

The cultural alienation is one of the major areas that needs quick intervention. The cultural alienation could be seen in the alienation of Adivasis from their community life, identity, languages, religion and sports, etc. The cultural alienation is the result of a well thought out design of alienation, imposed on the community on the basis of the best vs worst, pure vs impure and civilized vs wild. Whatever the Adivasi community possesses is tagged with negative terms like worst, impure and wild, which resulted in their alienation. It has been thrust in their minds that they are worst, impure and wild therefore, they need to join the processes of mainstreaming to become a human being. The cultural alienation could be contained by cultural revolution, which could be done by the propagation of the Adivasi philosophy, which will make them to understand the actual meaning of being Adivasis. The Adivasi philosophy should be scripted as literature in different Adivasi ethnic groups and in other regional languages, which will create pride in the hearts and minds of the Adivasis. The stigma needs to be transformed into pride, which could be done through social events, mass conferences and discussions, etc. However, the Gram Sabhas should be the centres for the cultural revolution, which can reach to each and every family.

The first cultural alienation could be seen in the change of life style. Community living is the foundation of the Adivasi community but it has rapidly changed into individualism. Now the community centric activities have been shifted into individual centric, adopted from the so-called mainstream of the Indian society. The community centric activities need to be promoted even in the towns and cities. The community should be critically made aware about the impact of market economy, which is forcing them to adopt the individual centric life style. The Adivasi co-existence with nature needs to be brought back.

The second major alienation that is taking place is in the area of Adivasi identity. The majority of Adivasis see their Adivasi identity as a stigma therefore, they attempt to hide their identity by not writing their surnames. For instance, the majority of Adivasi youth mostly the girls using Facebook do not expose their surname to hide their Adivasi identity. The Adivasi women have started writing their surname like ‘Devi’ similar to the Hindu women. There are several Adivasi ethnic groups like Kharwar, Gond, Chero, etc. use ‘Kumar’ for boy and ‘Kumari’ for girl instead of using their surname. The Adivasis need to be made aware about the issue of identity. They must be told about the importance of their identity and its link with nature.

Third alienation could be seen in the alienation from traditional food. The food habit has also changed very fast. The Adivasi foods like cereals, double boiled rice, food item made of rice are called as food of the backward classes. Therefore, majority of the Adivasis have changed their food habits. For instance, the Chinese food items are served in marriage and other social functions instead of traditional food made of rice, sugarcane, sugar, etc. The city-dwellers Adivasi children do not want to eat the traditional food for its black colour rather they prefer to eat the white colour food items. The racial discrimination has impacted deep alienation in the minds of Adivasi children. The food habits could be restored by propagation of its importance, availability of nutrition in addressing several diseases. For instance, there are several herbs and cereals, which are used as vegetables and other food items, which are medicinal for blood pressure, diabetics etc.

Fourth area of cultural alienation is Adivasi languages, which are disappearing rapidly. Several ethnic groups have lost their mother tongues and adopted Hindi, Bhojpuri, Oria, Bangla and other languages as their mother tongue. At the same time, the city-dweller Adivasis especially youth and children do not know their languages because their parents didn’t teach them deliberately to get rid of the stigma of being Adivasis. They promoted their children to learn Hindi, English and other regional languages instead. The language could be made alive only by using it. The Adivasi children should adopt three tier languages – mother tongue, Hindi as national language and English as the global language. This could be done through the traditional community learning centres and educational institutions. They can learn their mother tongue at the traditional centres and Hindi and English in educational institutions. Children should also be inspired towards creative writings like poem, stories, articles in their own languages, which could be published in local magazines and journals, etc.

Fifth major area is game and sports. Hockey, the national game of India used to be the integral part of the Adivasi community. Jaipal Singh Munda was the first Indian captain, whose team won the Gold in Olympic. Among 9 gold medals India has won in the Olympic, 8 medals go to hockey. However, cricket has taken over the fields of hockey, football and other local sports. The youth needs to be made aware about the importance of local games and sport, which can also provide them job opportunities. The community should organize annual games and sports festivals at the block, district and state levels.

  1. Community centric development:

The idea of inclusive development is part of the Adivasi philosophy. The Adivasi community follow the development model derived from nature, where all the living beings have equal space and opportunity for growth. There is no such space for competition, leading to inclusive growth. Therefore, the community centric development is much easier to promote.  The focus should be on the development of basic infrastructures like construction of good houses, linking villages with proper roads, availability of well managed health centres and properly administered primary school in every village, availability of electricity, pure drinking water and sanitation facilities in every village. This could be done by the use of TSP fund with community cooperation and its involvement in planning, implementation and monitoring of the rural infrastructure building. However, the community ownership needs to be put in place, which will facilitate in taking care and repairing of the rural infrastructure.

Besides, the rural infrastructure creation, quality services need to be provided in the villages especially in education and health services. Presently, there is lack of quality in the elementary education, the education centres have become food serving centres. Similarly, the health centres are defunct. The teachers, nurses and doctors are paid without providing quality services to the villages. This needs to be changed with community involvement, making available quality teachers and making the medical staffs accountable. The Gram Sabha should be given authority for ensuring quality health and education services.

 Conclusion

Although the Adivasis are the first settlers or indigenous peoples of India, who have the history of more than three centuries of resistance against the imposition of the idea of State, alienation from lands, territories and recourses, and imposition of western concept of development, have been struggling for survival. The invasion of different communities in their territories, pushed them to the margins. They were alienated from their lands, territories, resources, identity and culture. Therefore, the Adivasi community needs to envisage its future by designing both short and long term goals. The democratic institutions, constitutional provisions and laws could be used to realise the short term vision where the community needs to play front role by activating and involving its traditional institutions.

However, in the long term vision, there must be social, economic, political, cultural and developmental transformation in the Adivasi community. The community must regain its lost lands, territories and resources, where it should enforce the idea of self-determination, self-reliant and self-rule being the part of the Indian union. The vision of the community must be guided by its philosophy.

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

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

[3] Ibid.

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

[5] Statistical profile of Scheduled Tribes in India 2013. Ministry of Tribal Affairs (Govt. of India).

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

[7] Census Report 2011 published by the Government of India.

[8] Statistical profile of Scheduled Tribes in India 2013. Ministry of Tribal Affairs (Govt. of India).

[9] Ibid.

[10] Dungdung, Gladson. 2016. Adivasi aur Vanadhikar. New Delhi: Prithvi Prakashan.

[11] Statistical profile of Scheduled Tribes in India 2013. Ministry of Tribal Affairs (Govt. of India).

[12] Dungdung, Gladson. 2016. Adivasi aur Vanadhikar. New Delhi: Prithvi Prakashan.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Dungdung, Gladson. 2013. Whose Country is it Anyway? Kolkata : Adivaani.

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

[16] Anjum, Arvind & Manthan, 2002. Displacement and Rehabilitation. Pune: NCAS.

[17] Jharkhand Journal of Development and Management Studies vol. 2, December 2004.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Annual Report 2002-03, Ministry of Rural Development (Govt. of India).

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

[21] Dungdung, Gladson. 2015. Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India. Ranchi: Deshaj Prakashan.

[22] Statistical profile of Scheduled Tribes in India 2013. Ministry of Tribal Affairs (Govt. of India).

[23] Dungdung, Gladson. 2015. Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India. Ranchi: Deshaj Prakashan.

[24] Statistical profile of Scheduled Tribes in India 2013. Ministry of Tribal Affairs (Govt. of India).

[25] ‘BJP has ruled Jharkhand for much of its 14-year existence but has delivered precious little’, Scroll.in

Research Paper

Adivasis Towards Violence

By Gladson Dung dung

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INTRODUCTION

Adivasi literally means aboriginal, original settler or first settler of the land. In the Indian Constitution, they are classified as the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and guaranteed certain rights and privileges. According to the census 2001, the Adivasis are 8.6 percent of the total population in India. ‘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.’[1] The Adivasis live in or around the forests and their life cycle moves round the nature. They do not only depend on natural resources for their livelihood, but their culture, identity and autonomy are based on it. ‘90 percent of them still live in or in close proximity to the forests’[2] and only 10 percent of them have shifted to the cities.

Basically, the Adivasis are known for autonomy, peace, justice, collectives and honesty. However, in the 21st century, they are the most sufferers of violence, either inflicted by the state agencies or non-state actors like the Maoists. In both the cases the human rights of the Adivasis are violated. The most worrying factor is, numbers of Adivasi youth have taken up the guns after influenced by some ultra-left groups. Therefore, this paper examines that why a peace lover community has adopted the path of violence? Why do youth see the gun as panacea to their problems? Why did the Indian State fail to content the discontents? What went wrong with the Indian democracy after 65 years of its inception, which put the community in the path of violence? Why have the guns become the part of culture of the villagers in the mineral corridor?

Historical background:

In the ancient times, the Adivasis had the ownership rights on the natural resources and they judiciously used these resources for their survival. Consequently, the Adivasis were living with autonomy, peace and prosperity. The situation changed after the Aryan invasion and became worst during the  British rule. 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.

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. In response to the British Indian government, the Adivasis revolted against them. This is how the violence entered into the Adivasi community. 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 tail of a horse and dragged all the way to the collector’s residence at Bhgalpur. There, his lacerated body was hung in a Banyan tree.’[3] However, in 1793, the Britishers imposed the “Permanent Settlement Act” on the people to get much revenue from land, which affected the socio-economic and culture of the Adivasis, and their lands slipped into the hands of the Zamindars (landlords). Thus the community ownership on land was overshedowed 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 natural resources. Later the Act was amended in 1984.

After Indian independence the status quo remains the same. The painful reality is that so far as the monopoly over 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. As a result, the Adivasis’ discontent, anger and resistance manifesteted day by day. The government of India accepts through the Forest Rights Act 2006 that the historical injustice was done on the Adivasi community but it did not bring appropriate mechanism to right the wrong instead the whole community was labeled as the ‘Naxalites’ and alleged of waging war against the Indian State. A very interesting point to note is a few Adivasis used the violence to protect their land, territory and resources whereas the Britishers and other Indians (non-Adivasis) adopted the violence for capturing the land, territory and resources of the Adivasis.

Forests were captured:

After taking control over the land, the Britishers eyied on the forests. In 1855, the British Indian government declared that the forests as the government property therefore the individual can not have right and claim over it. The Santal Hul of 1855 was an organized community response to the Britishers resource grab. However, the Britishers continued their job of snatching community resoruces by various ways and means. In 1865 the first Forest Act was enforced, an avalanche of regulations followed this act. Wherever a loophole was detected in the existing laws a new law would be passed. The Forest Act, 1927 enabled the government to take over any piece of land after declaring it as forestland.

After Indian independence, the situation of Adivasis became even the worse. ‘The painful reality is that so far as the monopoly over forest is concerned, the Indian rulers were not different from the British. The vested interest of oppression and the basic ideology remains the same.’[4] The government of India constantly empowered its control over the forests by enacting numerous policies in the name of protection, preservation and conservation of forests and wildlife. The people’s access to forests and de-reservation of the reserved forests was completely ceased by the ‘Forest Conservation Act 1980’ and access to forests was also denied to the community by the wildlife protection Act 1972. After hue and cry, the government of India introduced a new policy in 1988, which is called the ‘National Forest Policy 1988’, which advocates for the protection of Adivasis’ rights and concessions, but it was seldom practiced.

21st century witnessed the worst atrocities on Adivasis by the state. The government of India issued an order following the Supreme Court’s verdict in 2002 to evict the illegal encroachments on the forests and forestland. The Adivasis were depicted as encroachers of the forests in the government’s order. The order also describes the encroachment of forests by powerful lobbies. But ironically ‘none of the powerful lobbies, the letter alludes to, were touched; nothing was done about the front line staffs of the forest department who did not take timely action against the encroachments by powerful lobbies but the Adivasis were the first target and though exact numbers are not available but the numbers is in the region of 25,000 evictions’[5].

The forest policies deprived Adivasis from their livelihood resources and also depicted them as encroachers and enemy of the forests and wildlife. At the same time, the policies have dis-articulated the social, economic and political system of the community. On the one hand Adivasis have been deprived of right to live, health and education, and the government’s sponsored development and social security schemes are also denied to them on the other merely because they live in the (reserve) forests, which falls under the ineligible category according to the government’s rules.

However, the Indian State brought the Forest Rights Act in 2006 to right the historic wrong but implementation is dubious. On the one hand the implementation of the Act is extremely poor and Adivasis lands are also being handed over to the corporate houses for so-called development projects on the other. The forest department, which is the biggest landlord on earth doesn’t allow Adivasis to enjoy their rights and privileges on forests.

Land Alienation:

The Adivasis consider the land as heritage. The Adivasis legend Baba Tilika Manjhi, Sidhu-Kanhu, Birsa Munda and many others considred land as their mother and heritage. They fought against the British Indian government to protect their lands. However, the Adivasis were alienated from their heritage by those so-called civilized masses who consider the land merely as property. The state of Jharkhand is one of the best examples to understand the Adivasis’ land alienation.

The Adivasis land alienation had begun during the medieval period but it arose rapidly during the British regime. The British Indian government introduced “Jamindari system” by enforcing the ‘Permanent Settlement Act’ in 1793 which created upheaval in the Adivasi community. Consequently, the series of Adivasis upsurge took place in the state. The Santhals upsurge in Santhal Pargana, Kolh revolution in Kolhan and Birsa Ulgulan in Chotanagpur, which resulted in enforcement of three legislations – Chotanagpur Tenancy Act 1908, Wilkinson’s Rules 1837 and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act 1949. The prime objectives of these legislations were protection of Adivasis land, traditional self governance and culture. But these laws were seriously violated.

In 1969, the Bihar Scheduled Areas Regulation Act was enforced for prevention and legalization of illegal land transfer and of Adivasis. A special Area Regulation Court was established and the Deputy Commission was given special right regarding the sell and transfer of Adivasis land. According to the provision, an Adivasi can not sell or transfer land to another Adivasi without permission of the DC. When the special court started function, a huge number of cases were registered. According to the government’s report, 60,464 cases regarding 85,777.22 acres of illegal transfer of land were registered till 2001-2002. Out of these 34,608 cases of 46,797.36 acres of land were considered for hearing and rest 25,856 cases related to 38,979.86 acres of land were dismissed.

After the hearing merely 21,445 cases regarding 29,829.7 acres of lands were given possession to the original holders and rest remains with the non-Adivasis. Further more 2,608 cases of illegal land transfer were registered in 2003-2004, 2,657 cases in 2004-2005 and 3,230 cases in 2005-2006, which clearly indicates that the cases of illegal land alienation is increasing rapidly. According to the Annual Report 2004-2005 of the Ministry of Rural Development of the Government of India, Jharkhand topped the list of Adivasi land alienation in India with 86,291 cases involving 10,48,93 acres of land.

A prominent Adivasi leader and Vice-Chairperson of the National Commission for SC & ST Bandi Oraon has undertaken a study on the implementation of various legislative measures meant to protect illegal transfer of Adivasis lands to non-Adivasis in the State. The study was confined to 15.703 cases registered in the Ranchi Collectorate in respect of Adivasis living in and around Ranchi City. The study reveals that merely 41.46 percent cases were accepted for hearing 26.82 percent cases were rejected and 31.72 percent cases were kept in pending. But interestingly, out of the hearing cases, actual possessions were given in 96 percent cases.

The non-Adivasis used many tricks for acquiring Adivasis’ land. The best way of buying Adivasis land is get marry to an Adivasi girl and register the land in her name. This trick was widely used by the non-Adivasis. Secondly, many Adivasis surrendered their land to the money lenders after trapped by them through loan. Besides, threatening, coercion and illegal documents were prepared for acquiring land. Authorizing the Deputy Commissioner for land transfer also caused huge loss for the Adivasis as many non-Adivasi officers justified the land transfer to non-Adivasis. In many case, the court also defined the laws in the favour of non-Adivasis.

Another major fact is the CNT Act was amended in 1947 for the purpose of urbanization, industrialization and for development projects caused huge deprivation of Adivasis from the land. Finally, the land related laws were utterly misused, violated and mis-interpreted against the Adivasis by the policy makers, bureaucrats and other non-Adivasis.

 Displacement in the name of Development :

The stories of tribal deprivation are unending sagas. Approximately 50 million people were displaced in different projects between 1951-95 in the name of development in India. The bitter fact is that around 40 percent of them belong to the Adivasi community. More than 15 million hectares of land was acquired all over India. ‘As per government records at least 75 percent of those displaced are still not cared for or rehabilitated’ (Fernandes & Paranjpye, 1997: 6).

Adivasis were discriminated for receiving compensation. For instance Nalco built two units in Orissa in mid 1980s. One of them in Koraput district, which has a tribal majority and the other in Angul, which pre-dominated by upper caste. 58 percent of all land acquired is in form of Common Property Resources (CPR). Displaced people of Koraput received a compensation of Rs. 2,700 per acre, while those of Angul received Rs. 25,000 per acre. Most tribals who hesitantly parted with their lands by giving it to NALCO, 20 years ago, reside in small huts with naked, shabby children scantily clothed women around the huts.

In the state of Jharkhand, 17,10,787 people were displaced while acquiring 24,15,698 acres of their lands for setting up the Power Plants, Irrigation Projects, Mining Companies, Steel Industries and other development projects in Jharkhand. In every project approximately 80 to 90 percent Adivasis and local people were displaced but merely 25 percent of them were halfway rehabilitated and no one has any idea about the rest 75 percent displaced people. The benefits of these development projects were highly enjoyed by the Landlords, Project Officers, Engineers, Contractors, Bureaucrats, Politicians and outsiders, and those who sacrificed everything for the sake of the “development” are struggling for their survival.The people were betrayed in the name of rehabilitation, compensation and jobs. The promises were not fulfilled and the jobs were given to the outsiders. However, the force land acquisitions are still going on across the country.

The Indian State amended the Land Acquisiton Act in 1984 and brought  a legislation for the corporate houses called Special Economic Zone in 2005 but did not bother to make a law for the rehabilitation of the displaced masses. The Indian State brought Rehabilitation and Ressettlement Police in 2007, which is only applicable in those 30 percent land acquired by the government. The sad part is this policy is not enforceble in the courts of India therefore no one would be benefited of it. Similarly, when the Jharkhand state was created the first chief minister, Babula Marandi brought the Industrial Policy but at the same time, the same government was unable to make a rehabilitation policy.

It is obvious that ‘the Indian state has been far more concerned with promoting corporate interests in tribal areas than in enforcing their rights and entitlements’(Iyer, 2010). This is why the intention of the state was always questioned and the people are resisting against displacement everywhere. The people were displaced from one place to another in the name of development but they were not rehabilitated. Hence they feel that they were betrayed in the welfare state in the name of “development” and “national interest”. Therefore, now the Adivasis believe that they can protect their land only through the mass struggle.

 Denial of Identity, Language and Culture:

Though the Adivasis have been dwelling in India 3500 years before the Aryans invasion and they are the Indigenous People of the country but the Indian State continuelly denied it. In 1993, a representative of India Mr. Jayant Prasad clearly stated in front of the UN working group on Indigenous Population in Genewa that there is no such Indigenous People exist in India. The Indian state did not recognize the Adivasis as the Indigenous People of the land. Instead they were labeled as the forest dwellers. The Britishers classified them as scheduled tribe, which was adopted in the Indian constitution too.

The word ‘Adivasi’ is used in the everyday’s life in India for those people who are constitutionally called as the ‘scheduled tribe’. However, the word ‘Adivasi’ can hardly be found in any official document across the country. According to a prominent educationist of Jharkhand Dr. Nirmal Minj, the adivasi word was not accepted by the Indian society therefore it is not used in any official document despite the Adivasis feel proud of being called ‘Adivasi’. Adivasis do not come under the verna system of Hindu society but they are asked to produce the caste certificate while going for the higher education, government services and welfare schemes.

The Indian constitution recognized so many regional languages and adopted those as the official languages of several states but the Adivasis languages were completely neglected despite there are numbers of major Adivasis languages having scripts and used in day to day life. However, a few Adivasi Languages like Santali, Bodo, etc were incorporated only in 2003 by the amendment of the constitution. Adivasis had played a big role in the freedom movement. Adivasis are the first people who fought against the Britishers but they were not given space in the Indian History.

The culture they practice is very unique, which derives from the natural resources. Their close relationship with the nature, unique culture and ethos are manifested on the wall paintings, life style, relationship, attitudes and behaviors. The folk songs, dance, music, paintings and male & female dancing together in social events are the most significant outlook of their culture. It clearly shows the collective living, unity, equality, autonomy and freedom of expression they practice. The Adivasi women enjoy much more equality compared to the women of so-called mainstream of the society.

Frankly speaking, Adivasis ‘have their own traditional methods, techniques and wisdoms of imparting social and cultural knowledge to their children and educating them about different spheres of life’[6] for instance, the techniques of dancing, hunting, and painting. The Adivasi children learn all the cultural activities, expressions and community livings from their parents, which help them to grow in such an autonomous atmosphere.

‘Such a culture has been basic to their survival, which is built around the natural resources. Through the centuries they have developed such a conservative culture that has helped them to view their life support system as a community resource inherited from their ancestors, to be used judiciously and preserved for posterity. In other words, their traditional culture is community based. It has equity and conservation of the resource i.e. sustainable development and use of the resource as its basic principles.[7] They have varieties of festivals i.e. Makar Parab, Baha Parab, Sarhul, Karma, Jitiya, Sohrai and so on. But the fact of the matter is they were not accepted as human beings in India therefore the Indian State delebrately denied, neglected and destroyed their identity, language and culture.

 Destruction of Socio-Economy and political system:

The Adivasi society is based on collectivism, equality, autonomy, non-profit ethos and indigenous democracy, which are closed to the nature. ‘They are endowed with rich and glorious historical, cultural and political heritages. The basic human values, which are the essence of a primary human society like simplicity, truthfulness, respect for elders, caring and sharing, co-operation, communitarian life-styles, subsistence economy, human spirituality, collectivism, etc are still visible in their society’[8].

However, after the Aryan invasion, the Adivasi society was attacked. They have been treated by non-Adivasis as outsiders, sub-humans, untouchables, uncivilized and beasts. Non-Adivasis used to call them ‘Junglees’, a term, which originally word means ‘forest dwellers’, but in reality it is a derogatory word meaning an uncivilized person.’[9] Though they are out of the ‘Varna System’ but treated as untouchables. These Adivasis are on the last rung in social hierarchy in India. The Adivasis are not accepted as human beings in India even today. They are always portrayed as uncivilized, sub-human, demons, forest-dwellers and mindless people. The Aryans invaders never treat the Adivasis as equal human beings.

The political system of the Adivasi is based on autonomy, self-rule and self-determination, which is known as the Adivasi self-governance system. The consensus is the principle of this system, where there is no space for bad politics, monopoly and money. But the Indian State deliberately neglects it though the Britishers had recognized it. The Indian State forcefully imposed electoral politics on the community. The Panchayati Raj Extension in Schedule Areas Act 1996 also known, as PESA is the best example to understand how the Indian State destroyed the best practices of indigenous democracy by imposed election.

The Adivasi economy is based on agro-forest, which leads to peace, brotherhood and prosperity. The communities depend on agriculture and forest for their sustenance. They mostly practice agriculture, collect minor forest produces to meet their everyday needs and also rear livestock to sustain their economy. An Adivasi family collects food grains and minor forest prolduces only that much the family needs for a year and rest left out for the other families. However, the Adivasi economy was crashed by the market economy of the so-called civilized people. The market economy which is actually the war economy, creates competition among the communities, intensifies individual greed and war among the communities. The Adivasis social, economic and political systems were destroyed and other systems were imposed on them.

Deprived of faith:

The Adivasi religion has been existing in the Indian soil since much before the Aryan invasion.  The Adivasis have their own way of conscience, faith and belief. Basically, they believe in the super natural God that is called ‘Marangburu, Bonga or Singbonga’[10]. ‘According to the belief of the Santal community, this World is inhabited by numerous spiritual beings of different kind; and the Santals consider themselves as living and doing everything in close association with these supernatural beings.’[11] They perform rituals under the Sal trees at a place called ‘Jaher’ (sacred grove). Often the ‘Jaher’ can be found in the forests. They believe in Bonga’s appearance in Sal trees and have named their religion as ‘Sarna’.

The genesis of the ‘Sarna’ is very interesting. According to the mythology of the Santals’ community, the ‘Santhal Adivasis had gone to the forest for hunting and they started the discussion about their ‘Creator and Savior’ while they were taking rest under the tree. They questioned themselves that who is their God?  Whether the Sun, the Wind or the Cloud? Finally, they came to the conclusion that they would leave an arrow in the sky and wherever the arrow would target that will be the God’s house. They left an arrow in the sky; it fell down under a Sal tree. Then, they started worshiping the Sal tree and named their religion as ‘Sarna’ because it is derived from a Sal tree.[12] Thus, Sarna religion came into existence. The Adivasis have their priests and assistant priests in every village.

However, the Hindutava strategy of trying to depict Adivasis as Hindus in Adivasi dominated areas of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and other states are ongoing. The Sangh Parivar claims that Adivasis are Hundus because their leader Birsa Munda had accepted Hinduism after renouncing Christianity. He wore the sacred thread, applied sandal paste on his forehead, worshiped Tulsi, prohibited cow slaughter, read Hindu scriptures and emphasized on austerity, purity and piety’. But the fact of the matter is that Birsa Munda always preached that ‘Singbonga’ (Almighty) is the only God. He never spoke about Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

The Sangh Pracharak & former Chief Minister of Jharkhand Babulal Marandi claimed that Adivasis are Hindus and they worship Hindu Gods and Goddesses. He justified that ‘every one who had links with the Sindhu Ghati (Sindhu Valley) was a Hindu because the word “Hindu” derives it’s meaning from Sindhu’ (Prasad, 2003: 5). Backing support to the Babulal Marandi’s statements, another former Chief Minister of Jharkhand Arjun Munda stated that there are lots of similarities between Adivasi religion and Hinduism. Hindu Gods are worshipped in many Adivasi festivals. Back seat driver of Hindutava wheels Shankaracharya of Kanchi Swami Jayendra Saraswati also tried to establish that Adivasis were Hindu by his lecture on ‘tribal identity’, at Shri Ranisati Mandir Committee in Ranchi on 3rd June 2003 in the presence of then the Chief Minister of Jharkhand Arjun Munda. Next day he even installed an idol of Lord Hanuman at Gumla. The other heroes of Sangh Parivar like Praveen Togadia and Dilip Singh Judeo are constantly creating hatred among Adivasi communities in Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh in the name of protecting Hinduism and formation of a Hindu Rashtra.

There are numbers of references of distinction between Adivasis and Hindus, which prove that Adivasis are not Hindus. The two Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata contain many references of wars between the Adivasis and the Hindus. ‘Eminent historians who have undertaken detailed research into the epic Ramayana (200 B.C to 500 B.C) have concluded that ‘Lanka’ the kingdom of the demonic king Ravana and ‘Krishkinda’ the homeland of the Vanaras (depicted as monkeys) were situated in the south of Chitrakuta hill and north of Narmada river in Central India. Accordingly, Ravana and his demons were an aboriginal tribe, most probably the Gond’ (Bijoy, 2002: 5). The Gonds even today consider Ravana, the villain of Ramayana, in high esteem as a chieftain. Meanwhile Rama, the hero of Ramayana, is also known for slaughtering the Rakshasas (demons) in the forest. The epic of Mahabharata also refers to the killing of Krishna by a Bhil Jaratha.

Adivasi archer Ekalavya was so skillful that the hero of the Pandavas, Arjuna, could not stand before him. But the Pandavas assaulted him, cut his thumb and destroyed his ability to fight and then fashioned a story in which Ekalavya accepted Drona as his Guru and surrendered his thumb as fees to him. It is a bitter fact that ‘right from the beginning the ‘Hindutava’ forces have considered and treated Adivasis as ‘junglees’, a derogatory word meaning ‘an uncivilized person’. Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui of the Delhi High Court passed a significant judgement stating that the Tribals listed in the Schedule Tribes are not covered by the Hindu Marriage Act. The judgement brings forth the truth that the Tribals are not Hindus. Similarly the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956: none of these Acts are applicable to the Adivasis.

Adivasis have their own culture, customs, rituals, practices and religious beliefs They do not come under the purview of Caste system and Chatur Varna system of Hinduism. Most of the Tribals are beefeaters because beef is the cheapest means of nutrition available to them. Tribals do not engage Hindu Pandits or Brahmins to perform their rituals. It cannot be denied that some of the Adivasis have accepted Christianity and Hinduism under Article 25 of the Constitution precisely because their religion was not recognized the other religions were imposed on them.

In fact, a trick is being played is by the Government of India’s Census Department, which lists all Sarnas and other Adivasis either as Hindus or Christians and their independent religion ‘Sarna’ is not mentioned at all. the religion of Adivasis was not recognized by the Indian State though many other religions Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity, Muslim emerged much later in India got recognition in the official documents of the country. As a result, thousands of the Adivasis accepted other religions, religious enmity was created among them and thousands of their sacred groves were destroyed in the name of ‘development’.

 The State Suppression:

In 1871 the British Indian government enforced the Criminal Tribal Act, which was repealed in 1947. The term Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) applies to various successive pieces of legislation enforced in India during British rule; the first enacted in 1871 as Criminal Tribes Act (Act XXVII of 1871) applied mostly in North India. The Act was extended to Bengal Presidency and other areas in 1876, and finally with the Criminal Tribes Act 1911, it was extended to Madras Presidency as well. The Act went through several amendments in the next decade and finally the Criminal Tribes Act (VI of 1924) incorporated all of them.

At the time of independence in 1947, there were thirteen million people in 127 communities who faced constant surveillance, search and arrest without warrant if any member of the group was found outside the prescribed area. Eventually the Act was repealed in August 1949 and former “criminal tribes” were denotified in 1952, when the Act was replaced with the Habitual Offenders Act 1952 of Government of India, and starting 1961 state governments started releasing lists of such tribes.

The ongoing ‘operation green hunt’ is the extension of the state suppression to the Adivasis. The word ‘Adivasi’ is made synonyms of ‘Maoist’ or ‘Naxalite’. There are numbers of cases of humiliation, rapes, fake encounters, torture and spoiling of food grains by the security forces but the state has been denying regularly. All the Adivasi movements are portrayed as the Maoist movements or supported by them. The state is shooting the decent voices. The state suppressions on the Adivasis have been in increase day by day.

CONCLUSION

The Adivasis are the Indigenous People of India, who have unique culture, identity and autonomy. However, the Indian State did not recognize their indigenous status, neglected them in terms of development and denied them rights and justice. The Adivasis do not only depend on natural resources for their livelihood but their identity, autonomy and culture are based on it. The Adivasis have been living in the forests for centuries and having customary rights on it. They maintain symbiotic relationship and treat forests like a child treats its mother. Their social, economic and political systems are based on the natural resources. Adivasis are not only consumers of the natural resources but they are also protectors and conservators. They have their century old comprehensive methods, rules and policies for preservation, protection and conservation of the forests.

The Adivasis’ territory, which is being called today as the red corridor and they are alleged of waging war against the Indian State. But the fact of the matter is the Adivasis did not adopt the violence but the Indian State has imposed violence on them. The State grabbed their livelihood resources through various policies, laws and guns. They were not only neglected in terms of development but also depicted as the people, who oppose to development. Their identity, culture, autonomy, religion and self-rules were destroyed. They were labeled as separatists, anti-national and enemy of the Indian State. They were socially discriminated, economically exploited and dispossessed from their resources. Consequently, the Adivasis have lost their hope in the Indian democratic system therefore few of them have even adopted the path of violence to counter the state violence.

However, the Indian State sees only two ways – development and military action as panacea to the violence. Ironically, the same government, who accepts of doing historical injustice to the Adivasis through the forest Rights Act 2006, doesn’t talk of justice, peace and prosperity. The issue of violence can not be countered only through development approach and military action precisely because the injustice, discrimination and denial are the foundation of the violence therefore the solution lies on it. 

 Reference:

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

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

Dungdung, Gladson.               2003. Life for Livelihood. Indian Currents (NewDelhi) June 29. ————————-                     2003. Sowing seeds of hatred in Adivasis’ land. IC(ND)Aug.17

————————-               2004. Forest Rights. Indian Currents (ND) April. 11.

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

————————-               1993. The indegenous question: search for dignity. ND: ISI.

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

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and Kulkarni, S.(ed.)

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

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

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Rangarajan, Mahesh and

Kothari, Ashish.

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And Krishna, K.

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in Madhya Pradesh. Pune: NCAS.

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

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

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

[4] Anjum, Arvind & Manthan. 2002 Displacement & Rehabilitation. Pune: NCAS pp.4.

[5] Pradeep, Prabhu. 2004. Tribal Forest Interface – Logic of Survial. Combat Law (Mumbai) Dec-Jan. Pp 5.

[6] AISWACS. (‘The Santals’ a note book on Santhal Tribe). P 26.

[7] Fernandes, Walter. 2002. Tribals and Advocacy efforts in India. A essay in book ‘Sruggle for Survival’ edited by John Samuel. Pune: NCAS. p 11.

[8] AISWACS.  (‘The Santals’ a note book on Santhal Tribe). P 1.

[9] Louis, Prakash. P 4089.

[10] The Santals a note book published by AISWACS. P 2.

[11] Ibid. P 2.

[12] Staments are made by Jasai Soren a Santhal tribal of Khoiribhanga village of Kankadahad block.

Research Paper

Development over Deadbodies

By Gladson Dungdung

unknown

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.

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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.

Research Paper

The State Sponsored Crime against Adivasis in Assam

By Gladson Dungdung

A woman in her burnt house at Lungsung

Introduction

The Adivasis of Assam, whose ancestors had settled down in the land ‘around 150 years ago’[1] after they were forcefully brought from the state of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, West Bengal and Orissa have been facing the state sponsored crime against them since independence of India. They have been enjoying their rights and privilege before there was the state called ‘India’ or ‘Assam’. The state sponsored crime against the Adivasis began with the enforcement of the Indian constitution, which denied them their status as “Scheduled Tribe” though they had been enjoying the same right during the British rule. Thus, their identity was either confined to the tea-leaf, which they pluck or as outsider (migrant) labourers. Consequently, inhuman treatments were perpetrated on them by the state as well as the non-state actors. The ethnic cleansing of 1996-98, Beltola incident of 2007 and force eviction of 2010 are the classic examples of the state sponsored crime against Adivasis of Assam.

In fact, the state whose prime responsibility is to protect and ensure the rights of everyone guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, has not only failed to meet its responsibilities but it has been discriminating, exploiting and torturing the Adivasis of Assam. Ironically, the Forest Department has been carrying on the eviction processes in Assam even after the enforcement of the Forest Rights Act 2006, which recognizes the rights of Adivasis over ‘the forests and forest lands’[2] from where they ensure their livelihood. This paper examines about the ground realities of the state sponsored crime against the Adivasis residing in Lungsung forest areas of Assam.

1.      Crime against the Adivasis:

Lungsung forest block of Kokrajhar district falls under the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) of Assam is abode of the Adivasis. They have been living in the vicinity ‘much earlier than 1965[3]. However, the forest department claims that the Adivasis have encroached the highly biodiversity forest therefore they must be evicted from the vicinity. But the fact is there is no such forest exists anymore in the vicinity where the Adivasis have been living for years. Despite that the forest department launched an eviction move and had deployed the forest protection force for evicting the Adivasis located in the Lungsung forest areas. In this process, the forest protection force burnt 59 villages on October 30-31, 2010 and 8 villages were burnt again on November 22, 2010. The houses, clothes, stored food grains were burnt down to asses. In the move not a single house was spared. Consequently, 7013 Adivasis including 3869 adults and 3144 minors belonging to 1267 families were affected and out of them 3330 are males and 3683 are females (see Annexure-I). 2 year-old boy Mangal Hembrom died after struggling between life and death for more than 2 months as he was half burnt during the eviction process. ‘40 people who were leading the protests against the eviction, arrested and later on 7 of them (students) were released and rest 33 men were sent to Kokrajhar jail’[4]. However, after intervention they were also released.

The state sponsored crime against the Adivasis of Assam had begun in ‘1950 by denying them the status of Scheduled Tribe (ST) in the Constitution of India’[5]. However, the crime was mated out on the Adivasis in large scale in ‘1996 in forms of ethnic cleansing, where 10,000 Adivasis had been killed, thousands of them were injured and more than 200,000 were made homeless and compelled to live in the relief camps for more than 15 years’[6]. Similarly, on November 24, 2007, about ‘5000 Adivasis comprising of men, women and children were attacked in Beltola of Guwahati while they were attending a peaceful procession in demand of Schedule Tribe ‘status’.[7] They were attacked by the local people of Beltola including shopkeepers.

Consequently ‘300 Adivasis were brutally wounded, hit by bamboos, iron rods and bricks. More than one dead, women were raped and a teenage girl Laxmi Oraon was stripped, chased and kicked’[8]. ‘The police either remained mute spectators or joined the crowd in brutality’[9]. However, despite protecting the Adivasis, the government justified the brutalities and fixed the blame on the Adivasis organizations for it. It has been also intensifying the crime against them by carrying on the eviction move. According to the Executive Member of the Bodo Territorial Council, Santoshius Kujur, “The forest department will continue the eviction process once the Assembly Election is over in the month of April 2011”[10]. If it is true then there would be a gross violation of human rights committed by the government.

2.      Pathetic conditions of Relief and Rehabilitation:

The victims of Lungsung incident are living in appalling conditions. The government has not provided them anything in the name of relief and rehabilitation. After the incident, the Agriculture Minister, Mrs. Protima Rani Brahma had visited to Lungsung forest areas and had promised the victims for providing relief materials but the promised remained unfulfilled. Ironically, the government put a condition to the victims that if they are ready to desert their villages, they would be given the relief materials. However, the government does not promise them for their rehabilitation even if they desert the vicinity. The question is do they have right to food, clothing and shelters? Meanwhile, some relief and rehabilitation work has been done by the NGOs, civil society and local community based organizations. The victims have been given eatables, utensils, clothes, medicines and tarpaulins but those are not enough.

Presently, the most of the victim families are bound to live either under the open sky or tarpaulin covered small huts, which can be again burnt by the forest protection forces during their eviction move. The unseasonal rain also adds salt in their wounds. However, the state does not bother in providing relief and rehabilitation to the victims. The similar kind of treatment was made with the victims of 1996-98 ethnic cleansings too. They are still living in the relief camps. They were not rehabilitated in their origin villages properly. Their lands had been captured by the Bodos and not yet returned to them. In fact the government is not interested in addressing the issues of Adivasis at all.

3.      Denial of Identity, Rights and Justice to Adivasis:

Historically, the Adivasis were brought to the state of Assam in three different circumstances. Firstly, the ‘Adivasis in general and Santals in particulars were brought to Assam for their resettlement after the Santal Revolt of 1855’[11].They were settled down especially in the ‘western part, now in the north-west of Kokrajhar district. This settlement is recorded as in the year 1881’[12]. Secondly, in ‘1880 the tea industry grew very fast, numbers of tea garden were started. As a result, there was scarcity of labourers in Assam therefore the planters appointed agents and sent them to different places for recruitment of labourers’[13]. Thus, the Adivasis were ‘coerced, kidnapped and incited to come to Assam, live and work under appalling conditions’[14]. Thirdly, in large scale of land alienation for the development projects also pushed the Adivasis into Assam in search of the livelihood as there were many job opportunities in the tea gardens of Assam. Thus the Adivasis settled down in the state of Assam. Over the period of time, they also cleared the bushes and made cultivable land.

However, these ‘Adivasis were enjoying the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status during the British rules but when the Indian constitution was enacted, they were de-scheduled and considered as outsiders as then the Chief Minister of Assam opposed the scheduling of the Adivasis of Assam’[15]. Whereas, the same ethnic groups enjoy the status of Scheduled Tribe (ST), rights and privileges in their parental states i.e. Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bengal and Orissa but they are denied in the state of Assam. The government merely recognizes them as either tea or ex-tea tribe and the people of Assam called them as coolie, Bengali or labourers with the derogatory remark and ton. This is a classic example of discrimination with Adivasis by the government.

The Adivasis are discriminated in every level, which is of course, a crime.  For example, in ‘1974 the government evicted the people but after strong people’s resistance the government had promised them to give land entitlements’[16]. At that time, Samar Brahma was the forest minister and as per his promised he started the process of land allocation in phased manner. However, he gave land to the ‘Bodos and some other communities. With his expulsion the process of land allocation also stopped’[17]. Thus, the Adivasis were betrayed. Similarly, according to the Forest Rights Act 2006, the Adivasis are entitled to claim their rights on the forest land which they posses before December 13, 2005. However, the Adivasis of Assam are denied their rights under the FRA as well. In fact, the ‘Adivasis have been living in Lungsung Forest areas much earlier than 1965’[18] but they were not given rights and entitlement on the forest lands which they have been cultivating for decades.

4.      Right to Education is denied:

The right to education is a fundamental right of every child. Therefore, the state is obliged to provide ‘free and compulsory education to the all children between the ages of 6 to 14 years’[19]. However, the government has been denying the rights to the Adivasi children of Assam especially, the children living in the Lungsung Forest areas. The forest department has burnt down 10 schools including 8 primary schools run under the Sarba Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) Mission and 2 private schools during the eviction move, where the children were getting education and mid-day-meal as well. As a result, the children are deprived of their right to education. Presently, a few schools have resumed classes under the open sky. There are also practices of discrimination prevailing in schools especially in the areas of tea estates. The schools are named as ‘Labourers’ school. For example, the name of primary school situated at Senglijan is written in the sign board as “Senglijan Bonua Prathmik Vidhyalay (Senglijan Labour Primary School).

There are high dropout of children in class 8th and the reason behind is, the parents don’t afford to send their children to school due to lack of money and awareness as well. Secondly, the quality of education is very poor, which doesn’t help them getting jobs. It’s very difficult to get a graduate in many villages with the quality education. If one sees the literacy rate of Adivasis, it is ‘merely 27.12 percent whereas the total literacy rate of Assam is 64.28 percent’[20]. Indeed, there is a clear division in the schooling system of Assam. The poor children go to the government or tea estate runs schools and there are public schools for elite children. Consequently, the inequality is growing day by day. However, the state seems to be reluctant in bridging the gap. 

5.      Livelihood Crisis:

The Adivasis of Assam have very limited livelihood options. The majority of them rely in the tea industry and rest of them secure livelihood from farming. However, the wage of tea labourers is very law. They are paid ‘merely Rs.66 per day’[21] which is even lower than minimum wage of Assam which is Rs.100 for unskilled, Rs.110 for semi-skilled and Rs.120 for skilled labourer. The victims of Lungsung forest are even facing more livelihood crisis as their food grains were burnt and harvests were destroyed during the eviction move. Similarly, the ‘Adivasis’ lands were captured by the Bodos during the ethnic cleansing in 1996-98 and they didn’t get it back’[22], which put them in livelihood crisis. Consequently, the Adivasis started migrating to the metro cities and other states in search of livelihood. The youth who migrate to the metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai, work as domestic servants and labourers. There are also cases of huge numbers of trafficking of women and children.

 6.      Destruction of tradition, Custom, Culture, Religion and Self Governance:

The Adivasis are known for ‘their unique tradition, custom, culture, religion and self governance.’[23] However, they are bound to be alienated from their tradition, custom, culture, religion and self governance system. For example, the Mundas have lost their traditional self governance system and ruled under the system of tea estate and religions whereas the Santal are still governed by their traditional self governance system. Most of the Adivasis have adopted other religions though in practices they still observe the Adivasi festivals like Karma, Sarhul, Baha Parab, etc. Most of the Adivasis speak in their mother tongues, perform their traditional folk dances and live in community, which is the strength of the Adivasi way of life. Their food habits are all most remain the same.

Conclusion:

Indeed, the history of Assam suggests that the ‘government was problem not the solution’[24] for the Adivasis of Assam. However, the state sponsored crime against the Adivasis must come to an end. The Indian State has promised to right the historic wrongs through the Forest Rights Act 2006 therefore the victims of Lungsung forest must be given relief and rehabilitation package along with entitlement on the land they have been cultivating for years, the forest villages should be converted into the revenue villages and basic facilities should be made available including drinking water, sanitation, health facilities, road, electricity, etc. The Assam government seems to be either a mute spectator or supporter of the perpetrators. Consequently, the perpetrators roam freely after committing heinous crime against the Adivasis. Therefore, the perpetrators must be brought to justice. The Adivasis of Assam should be recognized as the Scheduled Tribe (ST) and included in the constitution of India and provided them preventive, protective and promotive measures without any discrimination.

In fact, a law should be enforced to end discrimination against the Adivasis in Assam, where they are treated as the outsiders and called by derogatory names i.e. coolie-Bangali,  etc though they have been living in the vicinity for more than 150 years and many of them are the first settlers of the land. The minimum wages in tea gardens should be increased from Rs. 66 to 200 for unskilled and Rs. 300 for the skilled labourers. The living conditions of Adivasis living in the tea estate are very poor therefore; they should be provided basic facilities i.e. drinking water, health facilities, sanitation, etc. For ensuring the right to education of the children, there is a thrust need to provide quality education to the children. Therefore, the primary and secondary schools should be started in the Lungsung forest areas, where schools were burnt down to ashes. The attempt should be made to bridge the gap between the public and private schooling system without discrimination. There are more than 70,00,000 Adivasis’[25] living in Assam who are not recognized as Scheduled Tribe precisely because of the political reasons. However, the state must protect and ensure the rights of the Adivasis of Assam.   

Annex – I

Data of the affected villagers in Lungsung (Assam)

Sl. No. Name of affected Village Name of Village Headmen No. of House Hold Number of affected People
 Male Female Adult Minor Total
1 Salbari Manik Soren 22 70 105 99 76 175
2 Kadamguri Mose Hasda 40 114 102 152 64 216
3 Kiojharna Hudan Murmu 35 78 70 86 62 148
4 Jhamela guri Lakhan Soren 18 46 44 44 46 90
5 Dakhin Joygaon Bashist Soren 15 44 37 55 26 81
6 Kocha Dadhatola Sibu Tudu 16 51 47 64 34 98
7 Pharpur Suliram Soren 10 23 31 31 23 54
8 Lakhipur Suniram Tud 10 29 18 30 17 47
9 Bambigora Hufna Mardi 18 52 43 46 49 95
10 Dinajpur Riyar Hemrom 18 60 49 69 40 109
11 2 No Monipur Raska Mardi 16 31 44 59 16 75
12 2 No Suparguri Lakhan Mardi 35 75 94 100 69 169
13 Gadhatola Budhrai Murmu 18 43 48 54 37 91
14 Samktola Mondal Hasda 18 44 47 56 35 91
15 Gauranpur Themrai Murmu 9 64 19 59 24 83
16 Jiriampur Bijoyn Kerketta 15 33 29 45 17 62
17 Amritpur Somai Hemrom 34 136 134 136 134 270
18 Rajpur Mongal Soren 32 73 90 84 79 163
19 New Gadhatola Barnabas Murmu 8 31 19 28 22 50
20 2no Manipur Dumka Mardi 10 32 23 39 16 55
21 Samaguri Jalai Murmu 12 25 25 24 26 50
22 Sunapur Somai Hasda 35 55 82 66 71 137
23 Sharjuri Baburam Murmu 28 86 62 73 75 148
24 Indrapur Chand Mardi 14 41 44 42 43 85
25 Japaitola Sam Murmu 42 105 107 105 107 212
26 Tibhitola Lakhiram Murmu 7 20 23 24 19 43
27 Sikargor Sam Soren 13 35 31 40 26 66
28 2 No Paithon tola Robin Tudu 12 27 27 35 19 54
29 Oxiguri Mantan Hemrum 16 47 59 56 50 106
30 Jamungutu Parsuram Murmu 18 27 42 24 45 69
31 1 No Edel ghutu Barsal Hemrom 24 74 66 73 67 140
32 2 No Edel Ghutu Sumiram Murmu 16 54 54 63 45 108
33 Mariampur Rengtha Murmu 17 60 67 63 64 127
34 Ramour Seven Murmu 17 44 38 60 22 82
35 Dharampur Sengra Murmu 23 45 115 70 90 160
36 Balajhar Narang Kujur 11 16 18 22 12 34
37 Moinaguri Gene Marandi 6 11 18 15 14 29
38 Parganapur Mathias Kisku 21 41 50 34 57 91
39 Sagenpur Sanatan Murmu 20 45 46 52 39 91
40 Jamunpur Bubhua Kujur 18 25 47 32 40 72
41 Sonapur Bijila Kujur 10 30 34 42 22 64
42 Lakhigaon Lukas Bara 14 20 49 32 37 69
43 Gauripur Babulal Kujur 8 27 20 22 25 47
44 Salbari Jotin Toppo 15 35 37 43 29 72
45 Dholapara Payaram Bakhala 14 20 24 23 21 44
46 Balagaon Baburam Bara 17 50 40 52 38 90
47 Majhipara Kran Hasda 63 85 208 152 141 293
48 Jhamela pur Rabi Sorne 43 94 107 106 95 201
49 Dhardhara Dosarath Soren 39 65 118 97 86 183
50 1 No Bandhal kocha Mongal Murmu 27 47 131 107 71 178
51 Boda Jhara Sibu Murmu 61 208 217 214 211 425
52 Gursingh para Gursingh Para 34 130 102 133 99 232
53 Dafla para Pradhan Kisku 21 87 50 82 55 137
54 Maldangpara Rada Daimari 15 57 51 60 48 108
55 2 No Glosing para Gobi Narzari 17 53 41 53 41 94
56 3 No Glosingpar Sailen Narzari 18 51 49 60 40 100
57 Lankapara Nolen Daimari 18 60 54 78 36 114
58 Champa Doomni Munsi Soren 37 104 97 83 118 201
59 2 No Bhalaguri Supal Mardi 29 95 140 121 114 235
Grand Total 1267 3330 3683 3869 3144 7013
Reference:


[1] A Report on atrocities on Adivasis of Assam entitled as “Assam’s Adivasis” published (2008) by PAJHRA.

[3] N.A. 2011. ‘Assam Adivasis Cry for Justice’ jointly published by PAJHRA, HUL, PAD, DBSS and NBS.

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] N.A. 2007. Beltola Violence and its Political dimension. Guwahati: The Assam tribune.  December 1.

[8] Ibid

[9] N.A. 2011. ‘Assam Adivasis Cry for Justice’ jointly published by PAJHRA, HUL, PAD, DBSS and NBS.

[10] A statement given by Mr. Santoshius Kujur an Executive Member of the Bodo Territorial Council.

[11] Chhetri, Harka Bahadur. 2005. Adivasis and the Culture of Assam. Kolkata: Anshah Publishing House. p 78

[12] Chhetri, Harka Bahadur. 2005. Adivasis and the Culture of Assam. Kolkata: Anshah Publishing House. p 48

[13] Gokhale, Nitin A. 1998. The Hot Brew: The Assam Tea Industry’s most turbulent decade. Guwahati:SP. p 6

[14] Ibid

[15] N.A. 2011. ‘Assam Adivasis Cry for Justice’ jointly published by PAJHRA, HUL, PAD, DBSS and NBS.

[16] Ibid

[17] Ibid

[18] Ibid

[19] Children’s Right to Education Act 2009.

[20] Ekka, Stephan. 2011. Economic Status of Adivasis of Assam.

[21] Pay Slip provided by the Tea Garden Labourer “Hira”.

[22] N.A. 2011. ‘Assam Adivasis Cry for Justice’ jointly published by PAJHRA, HUL, PAD, DBSS and NBS.

[23] Dungdung, Gladson. 2003. Sowing hatred in Adivasis’ land. New Delhi: Counter Currents.

[24] Tully, Mark. 2003. India in Slow Motion. New Delhi: Penguin Books. p xiv.

[25] Chhetri, Harka Bahadur. 2005. Adivasis and the Culture of Assam. Kolkata: Anshah Publishing House. p 78