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

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 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.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.