Skip to main content

Fisherfolk, tribals come together, rally in protest, siege Midnapore office for hours

By Pradip Chatterjee*
On December 27, 2018 in a first ever joint movement Dakshinbanga Matsyajibi Forum (DMF) and Adibasi Bikash Parishad (ABP) along with, many other organisations of the tribal people came together and staged a massive protest rally in Midnapore town in West Bengal against the government's insensitivity and bureaucratic inaction regarding their long-standing demands. For hours the district magistrate’s (DM's) office was under siege with about 8,000 fishing community and tribal people blocking its entrance.
In West Midnapore, as in many other areas, the fishers and fish farmers either belong to tribal communities or live and work together. Thus common cause builds up among them to move for both fishing communities' and tribal people's rights and entitlements.
The Judge Court ground of Medinipur Town was overflown with thousands of people hailing from places like Narayangar, Keshiary, Kharagpur, Pingla, Sabang, Debra, Medinipur, Keshpur, Daspur, Chandrakona.
The rally was led by Tarak Bag, District President, Adibasi Bikash Parishad; Kartik Banda, State President, Kol Ho Haram Sanagam Society; Biren Tubid, Secretary,  Kol Ho Bhasha O Sahitya Parishad; Lakhsman Raut, Adibasi Baiga Samaj Unnayan Samity; Bablu Nayak, Lodha Unnayan Samity; Mangal Murmu, Santhal All India Adivasi Socio-Educational and Cultural Association (ASECA); Sabitri Singh, Bhumij Kalyan Samity; Champa Singh, Adibasi Bikash Mancha; Jharna Acharyya, Convener, DMF Women's Cell; and Debasis Shyamal, Vice-president DMF.
The rally demanded immediate issuance of Government Identity Cards to the fishers and Government Tribal Community Certificates to the tribal people, the fishing communities' inalienable right over water and the tribal communities inalienable right over tribal land, immediate stoppage of pollution and encroachment on water bodies like rivers and wetlands as well as removal of all encroachments including upcoming industries like sponge iron factories and mines on tribal peoples' land. Demands were raised to recognise tribal 'Ho' language and include the same in the eighth schedule.
The fishing communities further demanded replenishment of fish stock in rivers and wetlands by adding fish fingerlings, fishers' credit card for fisher people, soft loan, cold box, bicycles, for fishing communities including fish vendors. They also demanded immediate renovation and modernisation of fish markets.
The tribal people raised demands for enhancement of scope of tribal languages in education, free hostel facilities for students, housing for all under NGNB (Own Home - Own Land) scheme, inclusion of all tribal artists in Lok Prasar Scheme. Implementation of Forest Dwellers Rights Act was stressed again and again.
Additional District Magistrate (ADM) of West Midnapore received the deputation and the memorandum of demands. The administration was visibly rattled by the massive deputation. They promised to arrange for the Identity Cards for the fishing communities and the Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste Certificates without further delay. They also assured to recommend eighth schedule inclusion for 'Ho' language. Implementation of the Forest Dwellers Rights Act was also assured.
The administration promised to expedite the process of providing houses to the tribal and fisher people. Encroachments on tribal lands were assured to be seriously dealt with and reports were sought from concerned Block Development Officers (BDOs) and Sub-Divisional Officers (SDOs) in the matter.
Immediate steps were to be taken to promote Santhali education facilities and hostel facilities for tribal students. Government in the fisheries department would take special care to replenish fish stock in the water bodies and give fishing rights to the local and indigenous fisher people.
The people agitating outside the DM's office listened to the report of the Deputation Team. A decision was taken to review the deputation and keep close watch on the post deputation performance of the administration in keeping their promises. They lifted the siege with the warning that unless the demands are met and assurances fulfilled they will not only return in larger numbers, but also will confront the administration in every village and block of the district.
---
*Convener, National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (Inland), a participating organization

Comments

TRENDING

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Alleged killing of another Bangladesh youth inside Indian territory: NHRC inquiry sought

By Kirity Roy* There was yet another incident of the killing of a Bangladeshi youth by the Border Security Force personnel attached with ‘Barthar’ BOP of ‘G’ Company of 75 BSF Battalion. In last five years several incidents of killings happened under this police station’s jurisdiction and the cases will get the award as “Not Guilty” as usual.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Modi model, Hindutva icon 'justified' alliance with Muslim League before Independence

By Shamsul Islam*  Our PM describes himself as ‘Hindu’ nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, MS Golwalkar (the other being VD Savarkar) and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Indians witnessing 'regression to Hindutva politics' under Modi ahead of elections

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The forthcoming general election in India, scheduled from April 19, 2024, to June 1, 2024, to elect the 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha and the new Government of India, carries immense significance for the preservation of India's identity as a liberal, secular, and constitutional democracy.