40 Families of Gutta Koya Tribe Rendered Homeless by Telangana Forest Department
In an attempt to vacate the makeshift settlements of Gutta Koya tribes, the forest department, Police and Revenue officials have resorted to abusive violence- the tribes were subjected to lathi charge, women were tied to trees and beaten for resisting, children were dragged out of their homes, bulldozers were used in collapsing all the homes of nearly 40 families and the standing crops under ‘podu cultivation’ was destroyed. The incident took place in Jalagalancha forestlands, Govindraopet village of Tadwai Mandal of Jayashankar Bhupalapally district, Telangana on September 16.
It has been reported that the Gutta Koya tribes have been residing in these forests in Telangana for the last sixteen years after migrating from Chhattisgarh. This is not the first time that such abuse was meted to these tribes. In April 2015, in a series of incidents, the forest officials had demolished the tribal hamlets and their farmlands.
The continuous assault on the aboriginal ethnic tribes has been condemned by the opposition parties in the state. Representatives from parties- Congress, TDP, CPI, CP(I)M, and Human Rights activists have staged a protest on NH 163 on Sunday demanding immediate compensation to the tribes. They have accused CM K Chandrashekar Rao of his anti-tribal policies and reminded that none of his manifesto promises concerning SC, ST’s are implemented.
Condemning the attack on tribals, CPIM state secretary, Tammineni Veerabhadram said that the Telangana government, which had promised distribution of lands to landless tribal people before coming to power, has instead become busy grabbing lands from the people who have been cultivating since years.
“The brutal act by forest department officials and police is undoubtedly backed by the support of ruling government,” he added and demanded legal action against those officials responsible for the incident.
T Bellaiah Naik, Vice Chairman, All India Adivasi Congress has called the incident as ‘unjustified harassment’ by the forest officials. “The forest rights act suggests that tribals should not be displaced from their forest dwellings as they hold right to live inside the forest,” the Hans India quoted him as saying.
While giving an explanation to the incident, Ravikiran, Divisional Forest Officer of Jayashankar Bhupalapally, in a press statement has accused the Gutti Koya tribes of cutting down 150 acres of forestland for which the forest officials have evacuated the tribes. He said that the tribes were shifted to temporary camps near Madaram highway in the district.
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