September 17, 2023

Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch Holds Maharashtra State Conference

Kiran Gahala

THE Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch (AARM) Maharashtra committee organised its fourth state conference on September 4, 2023, at the B T Ranadive Memorial Bhawan in Belapur, New Mumbai. 117 delegates from 10 districts attended the conference. The venue was named after Kumar Shiralkar, the hall after Barkya Mangat and Ratan Budhar, and the stage after Dr Chintaman Gavit. They were all prominent leaders of the AARM. A presidium comprising J P Gavit, ex-MLA, Vinod Nikole, MLA, Sudam Thakre, Sunita Shingda and Rajendra Shelke conducted the proceedings of the conference.

S Y Gurushanth, AARM national coordination committee member inaugurated the conference. Detailing the anti-people steps taken by the BJP-RSS government, he praised the Maharashtra unit for organising militant struggles for the rights of adivasis forcing the state government to concede some of the demands.

 “The Forest Rights Act (FRA) was passed in 2006 after massive struggles to correct the historical injustice done to Adivasis. But its implementation has been very poor, perpetuating further injustice. The central government has amended the Wildlife, Forest Conservation, Environment Assessment, and Mines and Mineral Acts, which have not only further weakened the implementation of the FRA but also hastened the process of takeover of forest lands by the corporate lobby. The PESA which gave some protection to the tribals has been diluted. 2,32,000 acres of forest land has been taken over for private and government projects between 2009-19 without adequate compensation and rehabilitation,” he noted.

He said that the budget allocation for the Tribal Sub-plan is reducing. Also, there is diversion of the funds allotted for tribal welfare to other departments. Education is in bad condition with no proper infrastructure. Growth of communal forces in the tribal areas is a matter of deep concern. The different arms of the Sangh Parivar like the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams are working to create disharmony and divide the adivasi community for their nefarious political gains. We have to build resistance against these attempts to divest the adivasis of their right to the forests and land. We must build unity to fight the communal-corporate nexus and defeat the BJP-RSS government to protect secular, democratic India and our constitution.


AARM state convenor, Kiran Gahala placed the report which outlined the problems faced by adivasis in Maharashtra. The various harmful projects like Wadhwan Port, Mumbai-Vadodara Highway, Bullet Train, etc are leading to huge displacement of adivasi families from their land. The state government has changed certain land laws to facilitate the transfer of adivasi land to non-adivasis. As a result, taking advantage of the illiteracy among tribals, builders, landlords and corporates are snatching land in the adivasi areas.

The BJP-inspired demand for ST status by the Dhangar community, which is a nomadic tribe (NT), has angered the adivasi community. The state government has decided to do a study of 17 out of 47 tribal communities in Maharashtra. This has created disquiet among the adivasis since the reasons for selecting these 17 communities is not clear, especially in the background of the demand for ST status by the Dhangar community.

There are no facilities for adivasi students in the ashram schools. They do not get clothes and educational materials. Some of the adivasi schemes too have been stopped.The number of deaths in ashram schools have increased and in the past five years more than 680 adivasi students have lost their lives. Most of these deaths, 278, have occurred in Nashik district. Nagpur, Thane and Amravati have seen 171, 150 and 80 deaths respectively.

Adivasi students were given admissions in 161 well-known English medium schools in the state under some tribal welfare scheme. The number of such institutions has been reduced to 148. So, students have to continuously organise agitations/hunger strikes at the project or commissioner’s offices against the above problems.

The issue of non-adivasis getting bogus adivasi certificates and usurping the ST reserved jobs has come to the forefront in Maharashtra. The AARM, AIKS, DYFI and SFI have been taking up this issue all over the state.

The report called for organising struggles on the proper implementation of FRA, for right to grazing land, temple lands, government revenue land and surplus land, against eviction of adivasis in the name of wild life sanctuaries, and for jobs, education and health facilities, food security and against atrocities on adivasis.

Fourteen delegates participated in the discussion. The lack of education impacts job opportunities. Poor rehabilitation of displaced adivasis has led to ruination of lakhs of families. Lack of rights over the natural resources, especially land and water, and lack of livelihood opportunities, has increased migration from adivasi villages. The ST MLAs of the ruling parties must be exposed as they do not take up the issues of adivasis in the assembly.

Delegates opined that there should be clarity about the objectives of the AARM. We should not fall prey to identity politics and lose sight of the class struggle. Brahmanical culture is seeping into adivasi culture. We should have a plan of action to counter the dangers of the infiltration of communal politics and resist it. AARM must hold joint struggles with our fraternal organisations.

The report was passed unanimously. A 45-member new state committee was elected unanimously, which elected J P Gavit as president and Kiran Gahala as convenor. 27 delegates to the upcoming all India conference of AARM in Tamilnadu were also elected.


Vinod Nikole, MLA, spoke about the need to increase our work amongst every section of the adivasi population. He has been consistently raising the problems of the adivasi areas in the state assembly, like the issue of bogus certificates and jobs given to non-adivasis in the ST reserved category. He stressed the need to combat communalism and identity politics in the tribal areas, and the importance of strengthening the Left movement in all our work.

AIKS national president Ashok Dhawale congratulated the AARM for the success of the conference. He said that Maharashtra has a rich history of the adivasi movement during the freedom struggle, and later under the leadership of the Red flag and AIKS. Legendary leaders like Godavari Parulekar and Shamrao Parulekar since the 1940s, and Narendra Malusare and Kumar Shiralkar since the 1970s, have initiated several militant struggles. Nearly 65 tribal comrades of the Red flag have been martyred since the glorious adivasi Revolt in 1945, in battles for land and wages against both the Congress and BJP regimes. The militant struggles of the economically exploited and socially oppressed adivasis have strengthened the Left movement. All our fraternal organisations have also been built in several districts.

Ashok Dhawale said that the struggle for stringent implementation of the FRA is intensifying, as shown by the massive actions in Maharashtra in recent years. The anti-adivasi amendments to the various laws are divesting the adivasis of their rights, pushing them into misery and ruin. We must take forward the activities of AARM to expand our base among the adivasi community. We must make every effort to unite and mobilise other secular organisations and groups working amongst adivasis. We must reach out to people outside our sphere of influence and build a wider movement. We must bear in mind the crucial importance of the battle against corporate communalism and the defeat of the BJP-RSS in 2024.

On behalf of the presidium, J P Gavit concluded the conference with a call to strengthen the struggles of the adivasis on their burning issues, concentrate on spreading quality education far and wide amongst the tribal community, and strengthen the AARM in Maharashtra.