Skip to main content

Uttar Pradesh village fighting for forest rights razed to ground for third time: "Mysterious" fire led to the incident

By Rajnish Gambhir
A hamlet which has been fighting for about a decade to be recognized as a forest village, Dilawar Nagar in Kachauna block in Hardoi District of Uttar Pradesh, has been razed to the ground for the third time. On the morning of March 18, at 9:00 am, a bulb mysteriously burst inside one of the straw houses and a spark is said to have caused the fire that engulfed the entire village.
Every single house in that village is made of straw so the fire spread quickly. The accident took the lives of some cattle and one girl, who was injured, had to be hospitalised.
Local authorities visited the site and helped put out the fire. They have also provided some ration and have promised financial help to all families. But the financial help will not be enough for the villagers to rebuild their homes and their lives.
This is the third time this village has found itself destroyed due to fire. In 2005 and 2014 the Forest Department is said to have destroyed the village both times to chase them out of the area they inhabited. The view is strong, the land is not allotted to the village and the Forest Department dealt with the situation with violence, causing physical harm to the villagers and their houses.
The village houses about 80 families, which is about 300-400 people, all of whom have been rendered homeless. The authorities have provided them with temporary shelters next to the destroyed village, but there is a lack of basic necessities and people are struggling to survive.
Local social workers say, what they need right now, alongside financial and other aids, is moral support. They have been rendered homeless multiple times and it would be a show of solidarity if some people could visit the villagers and extend their support in any way they can.
However, the way forward from here is to make sure something like this doesn’t happen with the villagers again. Their demand for pucca houses needs to be met, and until it is granted, there is a need extend solidarity and voices to them.
The All-India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) activists, meanwhile, have decided to reach the village soon in order to help them out, but they feel, there is a need for a larger agitation this time against such unfortunate accidents and deliberate injustices.
Suspicion about what actually caused fire is still strong. The assertion to be recognized Dilawar Nagar as a forest village picked up in 2008, when people got organized under AIUFWP and started an organized struggle against forest officials. They have continued to carry on their struggle under the Forest Rights Act (FRA).
Evidence from the 2014 fire in the village suggests that there is a need for conclusive clues as to what caused the fire, but villagers strongly smell the role of Forest Department officials.
The communities affected by the 2014 fire were till 1988 living in the Puranpur tehsil of District Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh, till the Sharda river flood washed away their land and the people were rendered homeless for three years. In 1991 the families were resettled in Dilawar Nagar, Gram Panchayat, Simra Janipur, Tehsil Mohammadi, Lakhimpur Kheri.
Following the 2014 fire, even though many cases were filed against officials, no charges were pressed. The process of claiming legal entitlements under FRA were disrupted by the Forest Department, which led many to suggest who actually was behind the fire.
The matter was taken up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which stated that the processes at play in Dilawar Nagar were a violation of the right to life and shelter, both which are are constitutional provisions.
Yet, only minimal rehabilitative measures were carried out. Only some families provided a paltry compensation of Rs 5,700. There was no investigation to ascertain the cause of the fire and the district officials have resisted all efforts to address people’s problems.

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

Opposition refuses to legally challenge EVMs amidst plans of "back to ballot" protest

Counterview Desk
Even as opposition to the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) allegedly to rig polls is growing, a group of prominent citizens who have come together to form the EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan has controversially called for a national protest against EVMs on May 30, demanding future elections should be held only on ballot paper.

When a Pak scribe said Modi has 'proved' Jinnah’s two nation theory right...

By Zafar Agha*
It was around nine in the morning on May 24, 2019, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed the Lok Sabha with 300-plus MPs. It was a call from a journalist friend, Muzamal Suhrawardy, from Lahore, Pakistan. I ignored the call. We liberals had a depressing day the previous evening as the opposition to Modi and BJP collapsed. The results belied reports from the ground and even assessments made by colleagues.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

It's now official: Akshay Kumar has not been conferred honorary Canadian citizenship

By Our Representative
It is now official. Super-star Akshay Kumar has not been conferred any honorary citizenship by Canadian authorities, as claimed by him ahead of the 2019 elections. In reply to a query by Roshan Shah, who is a Canadian citizen living in Waterloo, Ontario, and belongs to Ahmedabad, the country’s authorities dealing with issues related with immigration, refugees and citizenship in Canada have said that only six persons have so far been granted honorary citizenship.

Govt of India overestimated GDP by 2.5%, must restore reputational damage: Ex-CEA

By Rajiv Shah
Top economist Arvind Subramanian has said that changes brought about by the Government of India in data sources and methodology for estimating the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 “has led to a significant overestimation of growth”. While official estimates place annual average GDP growth between 2011-12 and 2016-17 at about 7 percent, the actual growth may have been 4½ percent, ranging from 3 ½ to 5 ½ percent during the period, he adds.

Common thread of Modi, political Hinduism, nationalism? 'Contest' of ideas isn't over

By Salman Khurshid*
Losing the 2019 election and that too in a somewhat extreme manner has confronted us with unexpected challenges: Our leadership has naturally taken it very hard and to heart but with suggested options that we cannot imagine or contemplate. Hopefully the emotions will settle soon and give us the direction to pick up the pieces and march again.

If EC's credibility is under question, shouldn't one "assume" EVMs might be tampered?

Counterview Desk
Gauhar Raza, scientist, documentary film maker and poet; senior human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi of the Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD); military veteran Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury (retd); and Sucheta De and Sandeep Saurav of the All India Students' Association (AISA), have asked “individuals, organisations and people's movements” to send their endorsement to an appeal they have prepared on Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).

Will minorities in India be 2nd class citizens? Wake up call: Be a 'communicating' Church

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
India today is at a defining moment of her history. There is so much that has taken place in the past five years (and particularly in the last ten days)- that several citizens of the country are genuinely concerned about the future of the country! Will democracy survive? Will key elements of the Constitution be changed?