AARM Calls for Broadening the Struggles

Mariam Dhawale

THE first meeting of the newly elected National Coordination Committee (NCC) of the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch (AARM) held on September 9-10, 2017 at Com EMS Academy, Thiruvananthapuram has called for a broad mobilisation of the different tribal communities to combat the onslaught of the Modi government. Regional conventions, seminars, workshops on selected subjects will be organised in the five regions of the country, south, west, central east and north east India covering the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, Tripura and Manipur.

State-level conventions of ST students and of ST employees will be held to discuss the problems being faced by these sections of tribals. All efforts will be made to build the organisation among tribal students and employees. Dharnas, padayatras, public meetings etc will be organised at the state, district and tehsil levels on the issues of Forest Rights Act, land, PESA, MNREGA, ST Sub-Plan, water, PDS, employment, scholarships, state repression and increasing violence.   

This meeting was attended by 33 members from eight states. After the condolence resolution, Jitendra Choudhary placed the political report which outlined the various anti-people decisions of the BJP led central government, challenges before the tribal communities and tasks for the future. After a lively deliberation on the challenges before the tribal communities, the report and tasks were finalised by the NCC.

IMPRESSIVE ACTIONS

International Tribal Day on August 9 was observed in all the states. 50,000 people attended the mass rally in Tripura. A state-level rally with cultural programmes was organised in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. Thousands of tribals participated in the rallies which included cultural programmes in various districts of Maharashtra. Public meetings and flag hoisting were held in 47 centres in 18 districts of Telangana. Round table conference, cultural programmes were conducted in 44 areas along with other tribal organisations in Andhra Pradesh where 20,000 people participated. A seminar was held in Tamil Nadu. Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Odisha also had various programmes.

The LDF government in Kerala is taking up various welfare schemes for the tribal communities like construction of houses, supply of water and electricity, implementation of the FRA, schools and hostels for students, special study rooms and tuitions, pension of Rs 1,100 for the aged above 60 years, a kit of items worth Rs 1,200 during Onam.    

Andhra Pradesh reported on the different inspiring initiatives taken by the Girijan Sangham to involve thousands of people during the preparations of the All India AARM conference held in Visakhapatnam last year. The issues of facilities for students in tribal hostels, paucity of health facilities in tribal areas and supply of food to patients in hospitals were also taken up in the state. Girijan Sangham, Science Forum and Jana Vignana Vedika jointly held medical camps in 59 centres which were attended by more than 6,000 people. CITU is coordinating with the AARM to organise workers in the ITDA areas in Andhra Pradesh. Delay in payment of wages, non-payment of wages and part payment of wages in MNREGA work has been taken up in a big way. Nearly Rs 200 crore of fraud in the distribution of wages has been exposed. CITU has decided to appoint whole timers in all the tehsils of Visakhapatnam to focus and work on such issues. Anganwadi workers in the ITDA areas help to carry out literacy campaign among tribal women.

A joint action committee with 13 other tribal organisations has been formed in Telangana for building a broad mass movement by taking up the issues of reservations and employment. Postcards demanding reservations and jobs have been sent to the chief minister from 16 centres in 11 districts. The demand for housing for tribals who have migrated to the nearby cities for employment has been raised by the tribal organisation.

A function was held to observe the Silver Jubilee of the Tribal Association on July 14, 2017 in Tamil Nadu. Struggles for inclusion of the Pulaiyan ethnic community in the tribal list, for land pattas, supply of drinking water and electricity have been organised.

40,000 tribals participated in the peasant struggle going on in Maharashtra for loan waiver, remunerative prices and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations. The issue of school admissions, scholarships and hostels was also taken up jointly with the SFI. 

We have succeeded in uniting 35 tribal organisations through the Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan in Jharkhand. The issue of displacement is assuming serious proportions with eviction of tribals in 256 villages for a military project and in 180 villages for a tiger project.

Our activists are being harassed by the BJP government and the Gau Rakshak samitis are creating trouble for tribals in Chhattisgarh. Tribals are being evicted from 54 villages declared as wild life sanctuary areas.

The AARM has been active in the massive, victorious peasant struggle led by the Kisan Sabha in Rajasthan. AARM along with SFI resisted the attempts of the state government to privatise 300 schools and two colleges in the tribal areas.   

The problem of housing was addressed in Karnataka. The problem of non-inclusion of some communities in the tribal list is a burning issue there.

The meeting was organised in an excellent manner by the AARM Kerala unit. The interaction between the NCC members and sharing of experiences helped in understanding the issues in different states. Most of the NCC members had visited the EMS Academy for the first time. The inspiring atmosphere of the EMS Academy helped to increase the enthusiasm and determination of comrades to further strengthen our movement among tribal communities. 

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