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Forest Rights Act "violated" in Gujarat: Adivasi landowners being asked to vacate land, hand of sand mafia seen

By Our Representative
Following notices served to take back land allocated to the Narmada dam oustees in September 2014 in Vadodara district (click HERE to read), now fresh cases have come to light in Chhotaudepur distict of South Gujarat, where the tribals who were allocated land under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, are being asked to vacate their land. Bringing this to light, senior social activist Romel Sutariya has accused the forest department of seeking to “snatch away the land allocated to them.” He added, the tribals are being vacated despite the fact that they are the real owners of the land as per the revenue record.
In a letter he has shot to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, Sutariya, who is running a voluntary organisation for the tribal land owners in Chhotaudepur, gave at least two instances of this type. Thus, "on December 23, 2014, Ramsingbhai, a tribal landowner who owns an agricultural plot, Survey No 85, of Ambala village of Chhotaudepur district, is being asked by the forest department to vacate the land. A complaint has been filed with the police, but there is so far no action has been taken”, Sutariya said.
Giving another instance, Sutariya's letter said, “A tribal owning another plot of land, Survey No 164, has been forcibly evicted. Already, the forest department has begun with tree plantation on the plot. Worse, when the tribals protested, a few of them were detained illegally by the police. While a complaint has been lodged before the district collector, he too is refusing to act.” The letter asks commission chairman Rameshwar Oraon to ask Gujarat government authorities to act.
Heading the Adivasi Kisan Sangharsh Morcha, giving the background of what is happening in the region, Sutariya in a separate letter to PC Thakur, director-general of police, Gujarat, has said that tribals are being harassed alongside efforts by sand miners seeking to register a foothold in the region. “The tribals are cultivating land they have been allocated next to the river. However, the sand mafia has been continuing with indiscriminate, harming the agricultural land. Water levels are going down. At several places, illegal sand mining has washed away precious soil next to the river”, he said.
Alleging that several ruling politicians are behind illegal sand mining in the region, Sutariya said, “This is one major reason why the forest and police departments are not acting in the interest of the tribal farmers.” He added, “As our organisation is fighting against illegal mining, things have gone to such an extent that our organisation, and particularly me, are being targeted as Naxalite.” Suggesting that this is a ridiculous accusation coming at a time when the organisation is working within the legal framework, he added, “This was the main reason why on December 19 a police party was posted outside our Chhotaudepur office.”
He said, things reached such a point that, at one point, he was taken to the police station for questioning, and he was detained till the afternoon. "The main reason for this was, we were fighting for the tribals' right and against the sand mafia operating in the region. There have been cases when in several villages, such as Hirpari, Pavi Jetpur and others, where our workers live, the police is found to be questioning them. This is a clear violation of human rights.”

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Sagar Rabari said…
By giving voice through counterview, you are doing great help to various causes Rajivbhai, please keep it up.

The voiceless needs to be heard more loudly.......

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