General, Ground Report

Land Bank and Forest Rights

By Gladson Dungdung

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A village called ‘Perka’ is situated at Murhu development block in Khunti district of Jharkhand, which is approximately 55 kilometers from Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkhand. 113 families residing in the village. As per the Census 2011, the village has total population of 581 of which 300 are males while 281 are female. The village is dominated by the Munda Adivasis with the population of 550 including 285 males and 265 females. In 2011, literacy rate of Perka village was 66.46 % with Male literacy of 75.20 % and 56.96 % of female literacy.

However, the villagers are unaware about the tricks of the Jharkhand government for grabbing their community, religious and forest land. Here, I would like to focus on the forest land alone because the Forest Rights Act 2006 was said to be the historic legislation to right the historic wrongs done to the Adivasis and other traditional forest Dwellers. As per the land Bank data prepared by the Department of Revenue and Land Reform (Govt. of Jharkhand), three plots of the village forest with the area of 12.14 acres is enlisted in the Land Bank (See Table 1). Interestingly, in 1932 the villagers have been given the forest for their use. This has been officially recorded in the land record in the Khatiyan Part – II. As per the provisions of the forest rights Act 2006, the government authorities should have recognized the rights of the villagers on the village forest.

Table 1. Status of Forest of Perka in Land Bank

Sl. No. Register Number Plot No. Area in Acres
1. 44 1037 5.36
2. 44 392 3.17
3. 44 88 3.61
Total 01 03 12.14

Source: Land Bank, Department of Land Reform and Revenue (Govt. of Jharkhand)

The Adivasis of Perka are shocked to know that their forest is kept in the land Bank data with a clear intention to lease out to the private business entities. 55-year-old Petrus Tiru says, “I have land record papers of 1932, where we have been given right to use the forest. How can government keep our forest in the land Bank?” Another villager, 50-year-old Santosh Soy says, “We have been protecting the forest for more than 20 years. Two villagers keep watch on the forest every day. We also discuss about the protection and minimum use of the forest in our weekly Gram Sabha meetings. How can government take such step without our consent?” In the present circumstance, one needs to understand the history, concept and intention behind the formation of land Bank, which is paving the way to denial of the forest rights to the Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers.

The state of Jharkhand is popularly known as the land of Adivasis’ struggle. The Adivasis have been resisting to protect their identity, autonomy, culture, languages, land, territory and natural resources for more than 300 years. The creation of Jharkhand as a new state in the political map of India was one of the results of the struggle. After formation of the state, the Adivasi struggle was concentrated on anti-displacement Movement as 74 MoUs were signed by the successive governments one after another within a decade. Fortunately, none of the mega project was materialized. The Adivasis forced the Arcellar Mittal Company, Jindal Company and Tata Steel Ltd to desert the proposed land[1] for their dream steel projects.

However, learning from the past, the new BJP government, formed in 2014, changed the land acquisition strategy. On 31st December 2014, the government through its Department of Revenue and Land Reform issued a circular to the Deputy Commissioners of all 24 districts asking them to conduct survey and prepared a land data incorporating all kinds of land except the private land[2] for the land bank. After accumulation of the land data, the department of Revenue and Land Reform created a new website https://jharbhoomi.nic.in, where 2,097,003.81 acres of land was shown as government land in the land bank.

Finally, Jharkhand’s Chief Minister Rabhuvar Das launched the website of Land Bank on 5th January 2016, which was followed by the signing of 210 new MoUs with the Corporate Houses during the ‘Global Investors Summit’ held at Khelgoan, Ranchi on 16-17 February 2017. Now, the Government has been attempting to acquire the common land, sacred groves and forest land without (free, prior and informed) consent of the communities. For instance, the state government has given 42 acres of so-called government land to the Vedanta company at Dimbuli village near Saranda forest in West Sighbhum district of Jharkhand and the government has been attempting to acquire the private land of the Adivasis for the company against their consent. The government is ensuring the Corporate’s entry to the villages through the land Bank.

Indeed, the land Bank was created with a clear objective to ensure the land to the corporate houses. This was categorically expressed by the Jharkhand’s Chief Minister, Raghuvar Das while speaking to the media on July 27th, 2016. He said, “Land acquisition has never been a challenge for us as we have a land bank of 1,75,000 acres readily available for different industries to set up their businesses. Farmers are ready to give us land as we are paying a handsome price. We currently hold 40 per cent of India’s natural mineral wealth and we are on the way to becoming the power hub of the country by 2019[3] .”

Interestingly, under the tag of the government land, three categories of land data were incorporated in the land bank – 1) common land of the villages including grazing land, play grounds, village paths, etc. 2) sacred groves (Sarna, Deshavali and Jaherthan) and 3) forest land, which entitlements were supposed to be given to the Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers.

The most surprising aspect of the land bank is that out of 2,097,003.81 acres of land 1,016,680.48 acres of land is forest land, which is 48.4 percent of the total land of the land bank (see Table 2). If we analyze the data of land bank at the district level, Chatra district tops the list with 92.3 percent of the forest land reserved in the land bank. Bokaro secures second place with 90.8 percent and Giridih gets third berth with 72.8 percent of forest land kept in the land bank. However, in terms of area of forest land, Giridih gets the first place with 329,539.12 acres of forest land out of 452,074.26 acres of land of land bank. Simdega secures second position with 244,434.50 acres out of 358,450.52 acres and Gumla acquires third place with 87,082.74 acres of forest land out of 181,222.78 acres of land of the land bank.  

Table 2: Forest land in Land Bank

Sl. No. District Total Plot Area of land in Acre Forest Land
In Acre In %
1 Ranchi 10,327 1,07,677.69 78,256.44 72.68
2 Khunti 5,863 53,387.93 12,888.14 24.14
3 Lohardaga 3,951 14,372.30 9,742.95 67.79
4 Gumla 98,209 1,81,222.78 87,082.74 48.05
5 Simdega 1,10,766 3,58,450.52 2,44,434.50 68.19
6 East Singhbhum 22,151 31,607.71 8,159.21 25.81
7 West Singhbhum 27,041 3,75,662.09 49,922.02 13.29
8 Saraikela 5,609 24,467.66 5,008.71 20.47
9 Bokaro 2,624 21,827.03 19,823.80 90.82
10 Dhanbad 6,504 30,769.46 11,648.14 37.86
11 Ramgarh 574 4,284.94 2,795.72 65.25
12 Kodarma 278 4,128.11 73.38 1.78
13 Hazaribagh 1,973 25,190.21 15,801.12 62.73
14 Chatra 482 6,490.65 5,993.08 92.33
15 Palamu 0 3,005.20 1,668.50 55.52
16 Garhwa 31,319 33,546.72 7,536.10 22.46
17 Latehar 12,508 79,177.25 34,407.49 43.46
18 Dumka 17,308 77,762.05 16,629.96 21.39
19 Pakur 15,460 69,241.36 31,436.90 45.40
20 Deoghar 7,106 43,562.69 15,424.56 35.41
21 Giridih 16,642 4,52,074.26 3,29,539.12 72.89
22 Godda 4,956 23,417.28 5,929.15 25.32
23 Jamtara 9,607 36,086.36 5,803.17 16.08
24 Sahebganj 7,889 39,591.56 16,675.58 42.12
Total 4,19,147 20,97,003.81 10,16,680.48 48.48

Source: Land Bank, Department of Land Reform and Revenue (Govt. of Jharkhand)

This is a gross violation of the section 4(1) and (5) of the Forest Rights Act 2006, which recognizes the individual and community rights over the forest and forest land. It has been categorically mentioned in the section 4(5) that no member of a forest dwelling Scheduled Tribe or other traditional forest dweller shall be evicted or removed from forest land under his occupation till the recognition and verification procedure is complete[4]. In fact, the forest rights are denied to the community by enlisting the forest land and community forests in the land Bank.

The land Bank also violates the Provisions of Panchayat (Extension) in Scheduled Area Act (PESA) 1996, which recognizes the self determination of the Adivasis and empowers the Gram Sabha (village council) to manage the natural resources. This is also the violation of the Supreme Court judgment in the case of ‘Odisha Mining Corporation vs Ministry of Forest and Environment and others (c) No. 180 of 2011, which clearly states that the Gram Sabha is the owner of the natural resources, therefore, the common land, sacred groves and forest & forest land of the villages cannot be acquired without the consent of the Gram Sabhas. The formation of the Land Bank is a clear denial of the forest rights to the Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers, which will also ensure the continuation of the historical injustice.

References: 

[1] Dungdung, Gladson. 2019. Ulgulan Ka Sauda. Ranchi: Adivasis Publications.

[2] Letter of the Department of Revenue and Land Reform, dated 31st December 2014.

[3] https://www.theweek.in/content/archival/news/biz-tech/jharkhand-government-creates-land-bank-for-industries.html

[4] Forest Rights Act 2006, Ministry of Tribal Affairs (Govt. of India)

Research Paper

Land is Life for Adivasis

by Gladson Dungdung

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“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).

Intervention

A Memorandum to the Governor of Jharkhand against the Land Bank

To,

Her Excellency,

Smt. Droupadi Murmu,

Governor of Jharkhand,

Raj Bhawan,

Ranchi – 834001.

Subject: Requesting for withdrawal of community land (sacred groves, common land and village forest land) from the Land Bank of Jharkhand.

Dear Madam,

This is to bring your kind attention on the matter of ‘Land Bank’ constituted under the Department of Land Reform and Revenue by the Government of Jharkhand. The State Government has listed 2,106,073.78 (see table: 1) acres of land of all 24 districts of Jharkhand, which is mostly the sacred groves, common land of villages and forest land, which is primarily owns by the Gram Sabhas (village councils) across the state legitimated by the various laws and the Supreme Court judgment. However, the state Government has listed these lands in the land bank by putting aside the Laws and SC judgment.

The sole purpose of the ‘Land Bank’ is to ensure land for the corporate houses for establishment of their projects. The state Government has signed 210 new MoUs with the corporate Houses during the ‘Global Investors Summit’ held at Khelgoan, Ranchi on 16-17 February 2017, therefore, the Government has been attempting to acquire the common land without (free, prior and informed) consent of the community.  For instance, 488.82 acres of land of 541 sacred groves of Khunti districts is listed as Government land and shown is the data of land bank.

The Government of Jharkhand has constituted the ‘Land Bank’ and enlisted all the land under the purviews of government land. This is a gross violation of the Provisions of Panchayat (Extension) in Scheduled Area Act 1996, which recognizes the self determination of the Adivasis (scheduled tribes) and empowers the Gram Sabha (village council) to manage the natural resources. This is also the violation of the Supreme Court judgment in the case of ‘Odisha Mining Corporation vs Ministry of Forest and Environment and others (c) No. 180 of 2011, which clearly states that the Gram Sabha is the owner of the natural resources, therefore, the consent of the Gram Sabha must be taken. This is also a clear violation of the Forest Rights Act 2006, which recognizes the individual and community rights over the forest and forest land.

Table 1 : Land Bank of Jharkhand

Sl. No. District Total Plot Area of land in Acre
1. Ranchi 10,327 107,677.69
2. Khunti 5,863 53,387.93
3. Lohardaga 3,951 17,490.3
4. Gumla 98,209 192,997.52
5. Simdega 110,766 358,990.52
6. East Singhbhum 22,151 31,607.71
7. West Singhbhum 27,041 375,662.09
8. Saraikela 5,609 28,708.15
9. Bokaro 2,624 21,827.03
10. Dhanbad 6,504 30,769.46
11. Ramgarh 574 4,284.94
12. Kodarma 278 4,128.09
13. Hazaribagh 1,973 25,190.21
14. Chatra 482 6,393.29
15. Palamu 3,282.79
16. Garhwa 31,319 33,546.79
17. Latehar 12,508 79,177.25
18. Dumka 17,308 90,531.70
19. Pakur 15,460 49,817.8
20. Deoghar 7,106 43,043.69
21. Giridih 16,642 452,074.26
22. Godda 4,956 24,403.77
23. Jamtara 9,607 35,962.36
24. Sahebganj 7,889 39,591.56
Total 419,147 2,106,073.78

Source: Land Bank, Department of Land Reform and Revenue (Govt. of Jharkhand)

Since you are the custodial of the Fifth Scheduled areas of Jharkhand under the Indian Constitution, and you are also empowered with the special rights given in the Para fifth of the Fifth Schedule, hence, you can dismiss the formation of ‘Land Bank’ in the Fifth Schedule area merely by issuing a public notification.

Therefore, I humbly request you to order the Government of Jharkhand for withdrawal of the land regarding the sacred groves, common land and forest land from the land bank. These lands must be return and restored to the villagers, which were traditionally owned by them.

I shall be highly obliged to you for the same.

Thanking You

Yours Sincerely

Gladson Dungdung

General Secretary

JHRM, Ranchi.

Interview

The Government has betrayed us: Gladson Dungdung

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your message especially to the Indigenous People.

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

Note: Interview was taken in 2016.