In spite of Forest Rights Act, no rights to claimants..

25 May 2012, Betul

On May 25, the first stop of Yatra was at Multai town of Betul district where a meeting was held at the Shahid Sthal by Kishan Samgharsh Samiti. Kisan Sangharsh Samiti’s founder, Dr. Sunilam said that Samiti was established on 25th December, 1997 by farmers in Multai tehsil. On the movement which started on the issues like compensation after the crops damage, crop insurance, acceptance of village as a unit in place of Tehsil, the government of Madhya Pradesh, under a conspiracy, deliberately made the police to fire on 12th January, 1998 in which 24 farmers were killed and 150 farmers sustained injuries. In place of registering murder cases on police, the government, registered 250 cases against farmers which were still ongoing in the District Court. Kishan Mahapanchayat is organized by Kishan Sangharsh Samiti on 12th of every month and by now, 186 such mahapanchayats have been organized by farmers. Kishan Sangharsh Samiti has been raising the issues of farmers continuously through its foot marches undertaken for about 15000 kms in 25 districts of Madhya Pradesh so far. The Yatra participants paid their rich tribute to martyr farmers. The second leg of the Yatra was Baitul district headquarters where a public hearing was held by Ekta Parishad. Sitaram of Sitapur village said that 37 families have filed applications on 400 acres for Forest Rights. Claims letters have been forwarded to the district level by Forest Rights Committee but even after 2 years no response has been received. Ratiram said that community forest rights were relatively more relevant to tribal’s livelihoods than anything else. Claims of community rights by villagers of Bhainsdehi area have not been responded even in a single case so far. Tukaram Bhai said that the entire Gayaki community, with a population of about 15000 in Baitul district, is basically a traditional part of Gond society but but as no caste certificates have been issued to them which has made them ineligible for Forest Rights. Santo Bai of Ekta Parishad said that preparation was going on in nearly 50 villages in this area for Jansatyagrah which would be attended by about 500 people in the days to come.

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