Skip to main content

UP cops "beat up, drag" tribal women for second time in a week for campaigning to reclaim their forest land

Tribal women of Lilasi Kala
By Our Representative
In a shocking incident, around 30 to 40 Uttar Pradesh's police officers on Tuesday reportedly barged into tribal women's homes in Lilasi Kala village of the Sonebhadra district, which has a population of 1,160, with sticks and a revolver gun, and assaulted them, did not even sparing children as young as 10-years old. One woman was hit on the head so aggressively that she started bleeding "profusely".
This incident, says a release by Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), follows several police officers barging into the huts of 10-12 Adivasi women last weekend, dragging them to the Myorpur police station without arrest warrant. Says CJP, which is led by well-known human rights leader Teesta Setelvad, it's activists, backed by those from the All-India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), "some of the women at that time were cooking for their families, and some were even feeding their newborns."
Intervention by the two civil rights groups put pressure on the cops' action, and women were eventually released last Saturday only to be dropped 30 kilometers away from their homes, a distance they were forced to walk barefoot. Although their release was a small victory, on Tuesday they woke up to yet another attack by the local police.
Justifying the arrest, the police accused adivasi women of cutting down a Forest Department afforestation project, of which, says CJP, no record or public knowledge exists. "False cases have been slapped, with threats of even more dire criminal charges", says the CJP release, "made to quell the mobilization for acquiring the tribals’ land and dignity."
Teesta Setalvad
According to CJP, tribal women of Sonebhadra district have been fighting to reclaim their rights, first guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and then by the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Their battle for life and dignity pits them against the state's Forest Department and government-backed multinationals that are determined to snatch away their land and livelihoods.
The first attack on tribal women coincided with a workshop on Community Rights Governance & Forest Rights Act, 2006 organised by CJP’s and AIUFWP in Lucknow, UP capital, where human rights defender Sukalo was participating. Even as the workshop was on, she received a frantic call from the villagers of Lilasi Kala, which is in Dudhi tehsil, that 10-12 villagers, mostly women had been picked up from the village and taken to the  Myorpur police station.
Setalvad, who was taking the workshop, called up the Myorpur police station asking for confirmation of the detentions/arrests and sought reasons of the authorities for their actions. Says CJP, "SHO SP Singh confirmed that 12 villagers, ten of whom were women, were indeed arrested in connected with the “willful destruction” of a Forest Department “afforestation project”.
According to CJP, he added, “Nearly 40 women of the ‘Van Samiti’ (forest committee) cut down over 400 trees on May 14. When a forest guard tried to stop them they ran after him with axes.” CJP says, "This has been denied by tribal women who said that the assault was connected to their movement, launched since April 23 this year, to claim community and individual rights over land, rights granted under the Forest Rights Act."
Notably, days before the arrests by the police, the village head, who belongs to the ‘Baniya’ caste group, an economically powerful section, was found regularly visiting tribal huts, goading them to sign some papers, telling them, this was meant for the release of of their National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme wages, pending for the last two years. However, no wages were released, making illiterate villagers wondering whether they were meant for unreleased wages.
Asks Sukalo, “It is Adivasis who are actually protecting the trees, why are we then being hounded on false charges?” Explaining basic farming and plantation practices, she adds, "While looking after trees, often, unnecessary shrubs and undergrowth has to be weeded out, a practice most indigenous populations across the world are familiar with. Even on May 14, what the we were doing was just this: weeding out the wild grass and bushes."
“But we were were falsely accused of cutting trees,” says Sukalo, adding, “People are well aware that tribals worship trees. We not only plant trees, we take care of them like our family, like our children. They are a part of our daily life. How can we be accused of cutting trees?”

Comments

Ashok Chowdhury said…
No matter what the wretched colonial institutions like Forest Dept. and Police do ,under the influence of local landlords and mafias the forest communities ,lead by ever vigilant women would continue to struggle in reclaiming their lost physical and political space. Long live the women power ! Long live people's struggle!
AIUFPW
Roma said…
Good story A fact finding is needed in this case to expose the lies of the UP cops. It is Myorpur police station and not Nevarpur just a little correction.
Counterview said…
Thanks corrected...

ALSO READ

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Hyderabad-based Urdu university "bars" entry of its new chancellor, who had "initiated" reforms in institute

Counterview Desk
In an unusual controversy, Aslam Parvaiz, vice-chancellor of of the Hyderabad-based Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) has restricted the entry of its newly appointed Chancellor, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, allegedly because he was trying to initiate reforms, including setting up of a Maulana Azad Center for Composite Culture and Progressive Studies, Model Madrasa, Center for Empowerment of Muslim Women, Course for the Development of Legal Vocabulary and Legal Consciousness in Urdu, and so on.

Poor response to tenders for Gujarat's bid for the world's tallest statue, no international firm shows interest

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s claim that its decision to build the world’s highest statue in the world, in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, would attract “tremendous” response top international construction companies, has gone phut. The state government floated international tenders in August to build the statue, which is slated to be 182-metres high. Despite the “international” character of the tenders and big claims, well-informed Sachivalaya sources close to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi say, “not one international firm has come up to offer to carry out the construction activity.”