Three Tribal Dominated States Make an Action Plan for Non-Violent Struggle

3 March 2012, Ranchi

On 3 March a joint dialogue session for the people’s organisations of three states namely Jharkhand, Odisha and Chattisgarh was organised by ‘Sajha Manch’ and ‘Ekta Parishad’ at Ranchi. Addressing the meeting President of ‘Ekta Parishad’ Shri P.V. Rajgopal said that the elected governments have set limits to their action and inaction depending on their political gains. On the one hand in the Indian Parliament 140 M.P.s from tribal and dalit dominated regions are unable to unite against the anti poor policies of the
government and on the other hand MLAs from established industrial houses are visibly supporting the creation of an exploitative system. He said that the people’s organisations in the states of Jharkhand, Odisha and Chattisgrah should unite against the anti poor policies of the state governments. In reality this is the time to come forward for a decisive action. Shri Bharat Thakur of the Kalahandi region of Odisha state said that after independence the states should have been created on the basis of cultural and social similarities rather than on the basis of language then it would have been possible to implement laws made for special regions. He said that the land settlement system gave rise to many disputes when the land settlement process undertaken by the administration in the tribal dominated western regions of Odisha was found to be ridden with lapses and unlawful practices. He said that the people’s organisations should unite to create pressure for the establishment of small scale industries run by the local people. Tribal leader of KOlahan region in Jharkhand Shri Kishore Chand Mardi said that even today companies such as the Tatas and others were in possession of more than 25000 acres of acquired land that has never been used by them. These lands should be ceased from these companies and distributed among the landless. He said that the forest area in Jharkhand is rapidly shrinking because of industrialization and mining and this is having a negative impact on the lives of those who are dependent on the forests for their survival and livelihood. He said that Jharkhand has had a tradition of powerful people’s movements and because of this even though the government has signed 114 M o Us with Companies none has been able to start a project. He stressed the need for the government to rethink its policies and actions otherwise the dream of a tribal state would remain incomplete. Shri Pradip Kumar of ‘Sajha Manch’ said that since 1995 amendments in the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act have been done to promote industries and urbanization and this is a violation of the treaty that was made with the tribal society almost 100 years ago. Dalit leader from Chattisgarh Shri Amritlal Joshi said that the state governments in the newly formed states of India are promoting and protecting land mafias. In hattisgarh
state almost 100,000 acres of agriculture land belonging to 120 villages has been acquired by the government and the land mafia in the name of creation of a new state capital called Naya Raipur.

In Aarang region of Chattisgarh almost 65,000 acres of land belonging to 27 villages has been forcefully purchased at Rs500,000 per acre from the farmers and is being sold at Rs400,00,000 per acre in the name of New Capital Area Development. When the villagers united to oppose this act of the government they faced repression and criminal threat. Operational in the Katak region of Odisha Shri Lalit Patnayak said that the people were being made fools of in the name of setting up of power plants. Private and Government Banks were giving large financial grants to private companies while public sector units were being discouraged. Odisha is home to 17% of the mineral wealth in India and till date the Government hassigned more than 100 M o Us with private industrial and mining companies while it is doing all possible to discourage public sector investments. He said hundred percent production of most of the companies is meant for export and it will not benefit the state or the country. The companies have no regard for social justice vis-à-vis the displaced population and this is made possible because of a lack of social accountability. Shri Peter Minj of the ‘Netarhat Aandolan’ said that a powerful people’s movement is the only answer to anti poor activities and policies of the government. He said that the Government of Indiaand the then Government of Bihar state had announced the Netarhat Field Firing Range project that would lead to the displacement of 100 villages but the people united and opposed the project and managed to protect the region for the last 30 years till the government finally bowed to public pressure and withdrew the project. Working in the tribal areas of Chattisgarh Smt Kalindi said that through Jansatyagrah decisive pressure should be created on the state government and the Government of India to formulate a tribal policy. Working in the Giridih region of Jharkhand Shri Baijnath asked as to why shouldn’t the government set the limits for industrial and mining companies so that these companies also
have Constitutional limits and obligations? Bhubaneshwar based Shri Manoj Das said that more than 600 social activists are imprisoned in various districts of the state. He said that by repressing and acting against these social activists including Abhay Sahu the state governments are rapidly loosing their moral right to govern. He said that the Human RightsCommissions in all the three states are non-functional and therefore the social activists have few alternatives for their safety and security. Addressing the meeting senior journalist Shri Vedpratap Vaidik said that the state governments are taking an aggressive stance against social activists and this is the biggest challenge to the democratic values of the country. He said that only a disciplined movement will be able to achieve its goals and from this perspective the success of Jansatyagrah involving more than 1000 organisations is assured. He said that this wave of public awareness should also reach the urban areas so that the movement becomes stronger. He also said that since independence all the elected governments have come to power with limited votes and such governments can never fulfill the expectations of the people therefore a political awareness should be created and nurtured among the social activists. Senior journalist from New Delhi Shri Madhukar Mishra said that since the government has an aggressive stance against people’s movements they should ensure and cultivate the support of media. Recently a beginning has been made in the area of people’s movement and the media for a decisive process therefore it is necessary that this dialogue with media groups be increased and strengthened. He expressed hope that the media would raise the issues before the public and the government. Senior journalist of Jansatta newspaper Shri Prasun Latant said that along with the mainstream newspapers attempts should be made to link alternative media with Jansatyagrah so that the message of Jansatyagrah can reach the remote regions of the country. He expressed faith that the Government of India would bow before the decisive Jansatyagrah movement beginning on 2 October 2012 and fulfill its promises made after Janadesh 2007. Towards the end of the meeting all the orgnaisations together passed a resolution to constitute a joint management committee for the states of Jharkhand, Odisha and Chattisgarh. Thereafter they formulated a joint action plan for future movements in the three states. All present announced in one voice that they would join Jansatyagrah 2012 and ensure that it becomes a powerful decisive movement of the people.

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