June 28, 2015

Adivasis Resolve to Unite and Struggle

THE central executive committee (CEC) of Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch (AARM) in its meeting held on June 13-14, in New Delhi, resolved to organise struggles against the Modi government's offensive on adivasi communities. The aggressive moves to reverse or eliminate hard won rights including the Forest Rights Act, PESAA, constitutional protections under the Fifth and Sixth Schedule are reflected in the recently adopted Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Bill 2015. The CEC decided to launch an awareness campaign on the black provisions of the Act so as to build up informed resistance. The CEC also discussed the possibility of organising a national convention along with other progressive organisations opposed to the same, to discuss the effects of the Act and other measures of the Modi government on the lives and livelihood of the tribals. The meeting also decided to continue their opposition and movement to the Land Acquisition Ordinance. The Act amends the Mines & Minerals (D&R) Act 1957, bringing in retrograde features that very seriously impact the tribal population in different parts of the country. In its new form, the Act completely bypasses tribal consent and the role of `gram sabhas’ in allocation of land for exploration & mining. The provisions of profit sharing with the tribal populations have been given a go-by.

The CEC meeting of the AARM was attended by 32 members from 12 states and representatives from the working class, students, peasants and agricultural workers.

The meeting noted with serious concern the twin danger of curbing of democratic rights and attacks on civil liberties and autonomous institutions on the political front and the blatant pro-corporate policies on the economic front by this government.  The government is pushing for anti people laws like land Ordinance and anti labour laws, cuts in funding social sector programmes & schemes, unabated increase in prices of vegetables & pulses, hike in petrol & diesel prices when their world prices are falling. The appointment of RSS functionaries and sympathizers into various institutions and guidelines being issued by them to ministries through regular meetings was an indication of the direct access to state power being enjoyed by the RSS, and is a dangerous portent, they said.  

Other significant decisions taken by this meeting included extending support to the 2nd Sept joint nationwide strike call given by the trade union to press for the 12 pt. charter of demands.

During presentation of state reports several interesting facts emerged. Tamil Nadu Tribal Association (TNTA) reported a significant victory in compelling the district administration to issue tribal certificates for `Kuruman’ tribes after a long drawn and protracted movement which saw continued protests & demonstration over a period of several years. In KanyaKumari the fishermen took control of the forest dams.

Significant victories of tribal candidates at panchayat level were reported by Rajasthan. Movement is being built up against not payment of wages under MNREGA.

AP & Telangana reported massive mobilization for ongoing programmes demanding `Forest Patta’, filling up of vacancies against post of teachers, in favour of job reservation in the private sector and against the displacement caused due to the Polavaram project, against police harassment and attacks.

Movement is gaining momentum in Karnataka, forcing the state Social Welfare Minister to spend time in the hitherto neglected tribal areas.

The units in Nasik, Thane, Ahmednagar and Pune districts in Maharashtra have launched struggles on issues of hostel accommodation for tribal students, right to housing and agriculture in wild life sanctuary areas, preservation of tribal literature and culture. The state committee successfully organized a massive rally of tribals at Mumbai jointly with CPI(M) on 19th May, which was addressed by the General secretary of CPI(M) Com. Sitaram Yechury, AIKS General Secretary and CPI(M) Polit bureau  member Com. Hannan Mollah and AARM Treasurer & MP(LS) Com. Jitendra Chaudhury, amongst other state leaders.

Assam state committee organized sit in strike in Lakhimpur district. Orissa reported rampant booking of Adivasis in false cases by police against which AARM is fighting. Reclamation of 300 acres of land by Adivasis was reported from Navrangpur district.

Unabated violence, murder rapes are order of the day in West Bengal, leaving no atmosphere for democratic functioning. 90% of SC/ST hostels have been closed down, old age pensions and MNREGA have been stopped, TMC goons are evicting tribals from their land in spite of the tribals being in possession of ‘pattas’. However, tribals have started getting organized and offering resistance and a resurgence of popular support is noticeable.

In Jharkhand, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh the organisation is gaining strength in numbers and in newer areas.In Jharkhand there have been big mobilization a of tribals against the Ranchi Master Plan which will affect thousand of tribal families.

Tripura saw resounding victory for all 28 Gana Mukti Parishad candidates in the recently held elections to the Autonomous District Council, defeating secessionist slogans given by IPFT and INPT.

The meeting decided to hold classes for its activists in the Hindi speaking region.

A shocking fact came up during discussions. Across the country tribals are being affected by wild animals who find themselves being deprived of their natural habitats due to the encroachments of real estate mafia backed by Governments. In many areas there have been reported deaths of tribals. but the compensation is meager and differs from State to State. It was reported by AARM members that compensation for human casualties attributed to wild animals was 1 lakh in Chhattisgarh, 3 lakhs in Tamil Nadu and 5 lakhs in Karnataka. It may be noted that there is no provision for compensation in forest reserves and National park areas. It appears that human life, after all, is valued differently in different states!!