27 Feb. 2019
Do not oust millions of Adivasis/forest-dwellers from their age-old dwellings
In a matter of petition filed by wildlife protectors, the Supreme Court has asked state governments to drive out more than twenty lakh Adivasi/forest dweller families spread over thirteen states from their age-old dwellings and means of livelihood lands. The verdict is passed on the ground that their claims have been rejected by the respective committees stating that they could not show documentary evidences about their residence for over 75 years. The centre and the state governments, reasons best known to them, did not defend the case of these affected people who are mostly poor and illiterate.
People know that the land records particularly of forest lands have not been maintained by the authorities and also that backward classes being illiterate cannot own or preserve documents like receipts of fine paid to forest guards etc. It was after sustained struggles of Adivasis for the last seven decades that Forest Rights Act 2006 was enacted and being implemented. Authorities are asking them for documentary evidence to show that the applicant’s family has been in possession of the house and land for three generations. It is a fact that land-users had not maintained records of land occupancy because of ignorance and backwardness.
These people are honest and hard-working. They have been co-existing along with wildlife for centuries. Already there is an acute problem of unemployment in both rural and urban areas all over the country. If millions of Adivasis/forest dwellers are thrown out on the streets can the State provide them means of livelihood?
Taking all this into consideration the Socialist Party calls upon the Central Government to immediately promulgate ordinance in this regard saying that all those families are not encroachers but bona-fide occupants. Further, the party will join the efforts made by other political parties or social groups, including Bharat Band on 5 March, in support of the Adivasis affected by the verdict of the Supreme Court.