Vol. XLI No. 49 December 03, 2017

WEST BENGAL: Tribals, Dalits Rally to Defend Rights

TRIBALS, members of Dalit and Scheduled sections gathered in a huge meeting in Kolkata on November 28, to voice their genuine and long standing demands. The meeting was jointly organised by Paschimbanga Samajik Nyaya Mancha, Adivasi Adhikar Mancha and Adivasi Lokshilpi Sangha. A day before the rally, the three organisations had submitted a deputation to the governor, who admitted that the demands are genuine and are worthy of serious consideration. He has assured the delegation that he would convey their concerns to both the central and state government.

The rally in Ramlila Maidan started with songs and dances of the tribal people. It was a colourful rally. Speaking on the occasion, the leaders of the three organisations said, musical instruments are inalienable part of tribal life; but they have serious issues of livelihood. The state government, by distributing some traditional instruments, has shed its responsibility towards them.

The rally was presided over by Ashim Bala. It was addressed by Ramchandra Dom, Pulinbehari Baske, Deblina Hembram, Alokesh Das, Shankar Mukherjee and Muzaffar Hossain.

The speakers said, tribals and dalits need land, need pattas for the land, and a strict adherence to reservations and education facilities. They said, both the ruling parties at the centre and state are trying to divide people on the identities of caste, creed and religion. They are actually trying to block united movement of the people against anti- people policies. In West Bengal, job opportunities and the scope of employment are dwindling fast. Particularly, in rural areas there are no jobs. Work in MNREGA has declined to abysmal condition. Hostels for tribal students are being closed down. The expenditure for education has increased manifold. Tribal and poor people have been deprived of digital ration cards and are not getting the benefits of PDS.

The problem of folk artists also came up in the meeting. It was alleged that folk artists are not given identity cards though there was an announcement in this regard. Thousands of folk artists have not received the identity cards. 

The three organisations have decided to launch wider movements jointly.