Hyderabad: Raged over “anti-Adivasi” policies of the central government, tribal organisations across states are gearing up to join the national strike called by 10 central trade unions on November 26. Activists argue that apathy of the Narendra Modi government has further pushed millions of Adivasis towards facing the threat of displacement.
For the past few weeks, trade unions, and left parties have been campaigning for the general strike across the country -- from metropolitan cities to remote villages -- demanding roll-back of the new labour laws and scrapping of the three new farm laws. The campaign has been joined by numerous mass organisations and tribal outfits and it is set to culminate into a historic strike on Thursday. Farmers demanding scrapping of three new farm laws will also protest on November 26 and 27.
“This struggle is a matter of livelihood and survival for Adivasi communities,” said Jitendra Chaudhury, National Convenor of Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch (AARM). He said that the protest is not an end but the beginning of a movement as multiple Adivasi organisations are joining hands to resist the “anti-Adivasi” policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government.
“The central government is acting like a private limited company with Modi as its head favouring only corporates at the cost of the rights of people,” said Chaudhury. “Over 90% of mines and mineral resources are located in Adivasi areas and the tribes there are under the threat of displacement as Modi government is attempting to hand over the resources to private bodies,” he said and added that AARM members across states have been campaigning for a village-level bandh to reflect the outrage of Adivasis.
Observers say that even the milk and vegetable supply chains will be impacted by the complete shutdown.
“The proposed National forest policy and draft Environmental Impact Assessment notification are against the interests of Adivasis,” argued Dheeravath Ravi from Telangana Girijana Sangham.
Ravi said that millions of tribal people are forcefully evicted from their rightful land because of the non-implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006. “The government neglects the implementation of tribal laws such as FRA, and the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act,1996, (PESA Act, 1996), and Land Transfer Regulation Act 1 of 1970 in Telugu States, but petrol and diesel price hikes are thoroughly implemented,” Ravi pointed out.
“Why does the government fail to give land titles for one or two acres of forest land to the rightful tribals under FRA while hundred and thousands of land parcels are smoothly handed over to multinational companies?” questioned Ravi.
In the last six years, tribal groups have led numerous protests against forceful evictions and land acquisitions across states including Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra.
As the pandemic engulfed the country, Adivasis have been among the worst-hit communities.
In May, the central government announced that Rs 6,000 crore worth of Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds will be used for employment generation among tribal communities under the Rs 20 lakh crore Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme. But the promise remains unimplemented.
Although left parties and Adivasi organisations have demanded Minimum Support Price for forest produce, financial assistance for jobless tribal youth and so on,the amid health and economic crisis, the concerns remain unaddressed.