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

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.