Yogi’s Promise Falls Flat, Sonbhadra Tribals Await Land Titles
Sonbhadra tribals didn’t have access to ration cards, roads, power, schools or social welfare programmes from 1947 to 2012.
Sonbhadra/Lucknow: It’s been around eight months since Bhaiya Ram, of Raspahri village, in Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra district, was awarded a land title deed by chief minister Yogi Adityanath. “The CM has not looked our way since then,” he tells Newsclick.
Ram is one of the several tribals awarded land deeds by the CM on Birsa Munda’s birth anniversary on Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas in Sonbhadra on November 15, 2022—but the land was never transferred in their names.
Similarly, Sumitri has been sowing seeds on her land owned for three generations. She was elated when the state government promised land titles only to be disappointed. “We are begging for the ownership of our own land,” she says.
Another tribal Daya Shankar says their community is extremely backward and has been forgotten as they are battling poverty and the government.
Greeting citizens on Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas, Adityanath said that UP tribal communities would no longer remain deprived of their rights, including housing, water, power, etc.
“The tribal communities were always neglected by the previous governments, but now the Central and state governments are working together to ensure their rights. The government has decided whether it is Tharu, Cheru, Kol, Musahar, Buiya, Ahariya or any other caste or tribe, they will be given land deeds under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, and housing under PM Awas Yojana or CM Awas Yojana,” he said.
However, 3,964 tribals in Sonbhadra are running from pillar to post for the land to be transferred in their names despite receiving the ‘approval certificates’.
Land has not been transferred in the names of Sonbhadra tribals despite having ‘approval certificates’.
“As many as 53,506 out of 65,526 title deed applications submitted by tribals were rejected by a committee headed by Sonbhadra’s subdivisional magistrate. Of the 12,020 applications accepted, only 3,963 tribals were awarded land deeds, but lands have not been transferred in their names,” All India People’s Front state general secretary Dinkar Kapoor tells Newsclick.
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes comprise around 23% and 21% of the population of Sonbhadra, the only district in the country that has 13 tribes, including Tharu, Buksa, Gaur, Kharwar, Chero, Baiga, Panika, Bhuniya, Agariya, among others.
Tribals tell Newsclick they didn’t have access to ration cards, roads, power, schools or social welfare programmes from 1947 to 2012.
Doubting the approval certificates, Kapoor filed a PIL on behalf of Adivasi Vanvasi Mahasabha, an organisation associated with All India People’s Front and fighting for Adivasi rights, in the Allahabad High Court in 2017.
“According to the Forest Rights Act, title deeds should mention Raqba (area) and Naqsha (map) but they were plain pieces of paper signed by the subdivisional magistrate,” he alleges.
Reviewing the PIL, the court asked the state government in 2018 to look into the rejected applications and “not take action against tribals, but the government continues to harass them”, he further alleges.
“In Parsauna village of Ghorawal tehsil, cases have been slapped on five tribals. Instead of reviewing the process, the district administration is taking legal action against the most vulnerable section of society,” Kapoor says.
In January, hundreds of tribals marched through the dense forest of Dhekwah village, in Rajapur gram panchayat of Marihan tehsil, in the Mirzapur district, demanding implementation of the FRA and the withdrawal of cases against them.
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