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Tribal movements and background: Need of united struggles

By Palla Trinadha Rao*
Tribal peoples have natural and traditional rights to resources in tribal areas. These rights began to be completely disrupted due to British colonial policies treating resources as source of income which continue to this day. Many revolts and resistance struggles in these areas erupted against government’s repression, money lenders, non-tribal exploitation, landlords and land grabbing. There revolts were widespread across regions. These local movements and their persistent struggles impacted the British plans considerably, forcing them to wage regular wars to put down these revolts.
Revolts spread across many tribal areas in the 18th century against British rule and the intruding external exploiting forces. These struggles forced the British to initiate several reforms to buy peace which recast the administration of these tribal areas differently than the other areas. These reforms formed the basis of subsequent governance laws, laying forth historical continuity all the way to the present times. These led to drastic changes in the way the tribal areas ought to be administered.
Prior to the sepoy mutiny, many narratives of tribal struggles are strewn across the pages of history such as Kondamodalu in Andhra Pradesh. This history also reveals what anti-tribal policies were the cause of that triggered these revolts; lessons that are relevant even today.
The imperialistic colonial policy completely disrupted the collective communitarian mode of production in the tribal areas. Many surveys of lands took place; individual property rights on the land were introduced when it was absent in these areas. This began the disruption of communal mode of organising production and livelihood. Along with these, the colonial intrusion to subjugate the land and its resources that are the ancestral domain of the tribal peoples continued in different ways which lit the spark of resistance.
Prior to the introduction of capitalist system in the 19th century land was under joint occupation in the tribal areas. There was no concept of ‘ownership’ but just use rights. The colonial regime considered and introduced laws that began the conversion of all natural resources as commodities to be traded in the market. This fuelled resource grab and often state sponsored and acquiesced. These resources formed the basis for production of various goods for consumption domestically as well as exported to Europe and elsewhere. With industrial revolution transforming Europe and the spread of colonialism, the dawn of industrial era and the capitalist system, the thirst for raw materials surged. Correspondingly, the resource grab and extraction rapidly increased in tribal areas.
Large parts of the tribal regions were self-ruling tribal kingdoms. Gond and Bhils ruled Gondvana and Bhilmal. Similarly there were self-ruled tribal realms in the erstwhile Bihar and other areas in the sub-continent. With waves of intrusion, resource grab and resource destruction, the tribal rulers were reduced to landless poor or pushed to forest margins.
The land settlement system made land transfers to outsiders possible and easy. In the beginning, this was to cater to the needs of British government. This settlement system was introduced for the first time in Coastal Andhra. Since Telangana was under the Nizam rule, the land survey started a bit late. The people from plain areas were also invited to settle in these tribal areas subject to the Nizam’s revenue system. The tribal farmers began to abandon their farms and move farther deep into the forests unable to meet the demands of the heavy taxes on land.
Mining of minerals to feed the industries in Europe and the new ones set up in India was initiated by the British. To transport raw material, an elaborate railway network emerged. The Hyderabad-Palwancha railway line was set up during 1844. This was extended upto Vijayawada in 1899. So too roads were constructed to access these resource rich regions. An elaborate infrastructure to support these activities soon sprung up.
Telangana region responded to these new economic thrusts yielding to serve the interest of capital. The Nizam government and other business communities welcomed these developments and preferred to enter into cordial relations with these new ventures.
The tribal revolts broke out with the policies of British rulers when they tried to snatch the tribal people’s traditional rights on land and forest in these areas. The revolts by Kols in 1883 and by Thamar during 1789-1882 aimed at protecting their rights on land.
Prior to sepoy mutiny, many peasant revolts took place. Serious famine outbreaks plagued Bengal and Bihar compounded by the aggressive resource capture by the East India Company in 1770s. These revolts were akin to the guerrilla revolts formulated by Mao. The British deployed armed forces from Ceylon, Malaya, and England to crush these peasant revolts as per the historical account.
We can witness many tribal peasant uprisings in 1820 in Chotanagpur of erstwhile Bihar against Zamindars, money lenders and British rulers. The British paved the way for the collapse of the economic and social lifestyle of the tribal peoples. Many Hindu, Muslim and Sikh money lenders settled in tribal areas. They illegally grabbed the tribal lands. These incursions led to Adivasi revolts. But the powerful British rule crushed all these people’s movements.
However, history tells us that liberation struggles do not end until as long as the exploiting sections exist. In 1821, Adivasis revolted. They captured Chinipur fort. The British rulers stood by Zamindars and ruthlessly crushed the revolt. The area of Chotanagupur was not new to such revolts. In 1882 and 1890, Adivasis revolted again.
In 1931-32, ‘Kolo” sect of Adivasis revolted against private money lenders and the government. Mahajans used to give paddy seeds and money by way of advance and collected 70% extra to the principal amounts at the end of the year. This type of illegal practice threw many tribals deep into debt. To clear off their debts, Adivasis were forced to mortgage their ‘services and executed Sevaka pattas’ to them. These pathetic situations ignited Kolo revolts. Of course, these pathetic situations continue in various different and newer forms, since no joint struggles are taking place.
The historical peasant struggle, the Santhal revolt of 1855-57 (Bhagalpur of Bihar to the Southern region of Central Orissa) is remarkable in the history of Tribal struggles in India. Before the entry of Bengali settlers and other traders, reasonable peace prevailed in the jungles. This peace was shattered by the entry of these exploiting sections. Various commodities were introduced encouraging consumerism due to which the innocent tribals were forced into debt traps ultimately. They had to sell the lands unwillingly. The exploiting traders forcible made the tribal to lose their livelihood. The landless Santhals increased in numbers. They were to mortgage even their future prospects. Such pathetic situation prevailed there.
This situation led the Santhals to revolt. The two brothers Siddu, Kaanu Santhal led the revolt against thier rivals courageously. Fighting against government and feudal system, they destroyed feudals and money lenders. Many oppressed sections of people supported the Santhal revolt. They sent back the British soldiers who came to crush the struggle. Those ferocious struggles ended the existing British administration due to which ‘Army rule’ was imposed. Armed soldiers cruelly killed around 10,000 traditional armed tribals. Similarly, the revolts took place at various places which finally merged into the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. The history of revolts can be noticed even after 1857 in connection with unrest of peasants.
One more revolt under the leadership of Birsa Munda took place against Hindu feudals in 1895 in Ranchi area. In Rajasthan, Bhil and Meo peasants organised struggles against feudal landlords and traders.
In the beginning of 19th century, the land revenue settlement took place in North Andhra districts of Andhra Pradesh state. But no such struggle in the agency area can be seen. During that time, they started tax collection on lands in order to gain administrative empowerment. This was done with the help of Mutadars Ijadars and Munsifs. But they did not have any ownership rights on lands. They can only enjoy the lands and do revenue collection on these lands. They have even right to lease the lands to other peasants.
On the other, the money lenders from the plains started to go to agency areas and give meagre amounts to Adivasis by way of loan and squeeze their blood in the form of excess interests on their loans. They also showed wrong and false accounts. Finally, these innocent tribals had to lose their livelihood (land) because of the usurious traders and money lenders.
The government appointed collectors for Ganjam, Visakhapatnam and Godavari districts as their agents in order to bring the administration under their control reducing the powers of agency Mutadars and taking their lands to government fold. Resistance struggles started.
In 1808, the British government regulated the production of toddy, alcohol and other liquors and its sales. These regulations were relaxed in 1820. Gradually ban was imposed on sale of toddy. These new rules and regulations affected the natural and traditional rights of Adivasis. All these situations fuelled the struggles. The trade of colonial rulers and policies of Nizam government led to many struggles in the tribal areas of both Andhra, Telangana.
The Rampa revolt in Godavari agency took place in 1879. There the Adivasis revolted against the oppression of Muttadars and money lenders. In Manyam,(agency area) the tax, cess collections made Adivasis to face severe problems. In 1878, the sub-tenders in Rampa agency collected huge taxes. The Rampa revolt spread to the agency areas of Vizag , East and Khammam. Gradually several movements arose against Madras government exploiting policies such as Axe tax, Tax on Toddy trees, land lease tax etc..
The Adivasi leader Darabandam Chandraiah led Rampa struggle in 1879 and opposed tax collections. Many Adivasis like Ambula Reddy, Thammana dora, Pittala Bheemudu, Pulikantha Sambaiah acted as squad leaders under his leadership. Till August 1879, nearly 70 members were arrested. Rampa struggle ended with the brutal killing of Darabandan Chandraiah in 1880.
Golconda struggle took place in 1886. This was a revolt of Konda Doras against the rule of Revenue Inspector of that area. About 30 Konda Doras went to Gudem attacked the Police Station setting it on fire. While crossing the Lammasingi, the Police arrested the leaders. The Muta given to the Mutadars was cancelled alleging that he acted in favour of Lammasingi rebels. The government payments for Mutadars too disappointed them. A person who participated in 1879 Rampa revolt, planned an innovative revolt. On May 22, they looted the dwelling of a Policeman. The Police shot dead one of them. The rebels went there to Krishna Devi Police Station. After attacking it, they killed 5 policemen and fled with the weapons. Many such heroic incidents can be seen across the pages of history about the Adivasi movement.
The sole power over forests was vested with the government through 1882 Forest Act. This act was implemented in 1907 in the agency areas. This disturbed the peaceful life of the tribal peoples. They stopped the podu cultivation and restrained the collection of forest produce and grazing of animals in the forests. Resisting such anti tribal acts of the British, Lagarayi revolt erupted in 1915-16. The Adivasis attacked Police Stations in many areas. Exploitation by many money lenders and land grabbing have continued.
As an impact of Lagarayi revolt, the Government of Andhra Pradesh brought out an Act in 1917 on tribal land transfers. This Act banned the land transfers from tribal to non-tribal. By this, the Agency administration came under the control of British. Slowly official power domination increased. Roads were laid down even in interior areas to move Police vehicles. The cruel and oppressive attitude of Deputy Tahsildars increased sowing immense dissatisfaction among Adivasis. A struggle started in 1922 against the British and continued till mid 1924. Alloori Sita Rama Raju was the leader for these Adivasi struggles. These struggles have no comparison to the present-day Adivasi struggle. The distributed lives of Adivasis turned into militancy and the struggle spread over 200 villages. In 1924, Andhra Pradesh Agency Rules were made by the British government handing over legal administration to Revenue officials.
Another significant valiant tribal struggle over land was the Babejari revolt. From northern side of Babejari, Kumram Bheem started the Jodeghat movement. He lost his life in this Gond struggle that lasted for seven months against the Nizam’s oppression and cruel rule. Ten tribals were killed in encounter by the police. It took five years for Nizam to analyse the basic reasons for the struggle. The Nizam’s government appointed Prof. Hemondorf to study the facts of the struggle. He recommended land distribution, development of educational facilities, rules of land protection in the tribal areas while emphasizing importance on sensitive issues.
The other historic struggle that took place in the soil of Telangana was the famous Telangana armed peasants’ struggle. It was started opposing the cruel bonded labour system in the villages and illegal revenue collections. In 1946, the armed peasants started struggle against the Nizam’s government and its stooges such as, Zamindars, Patels and Patwaris in the rural areas. Even after merger of Hyderabad to the Indian Union, this struggle started with 5000 people in 1947 and continued up to 1951. Those were the days where exploitation of feudal landlords and Zamindars crossed limits. Inhuman practices were common in the villages. Even during famines, the feudal lords never stopped their ruthless revenue collection. The women and downtrodden in the villages were mostly ill-treated. Nearly 3000 villages were liberated and were under the control of armed guerrilla squads. The landlords from the villages were forcibly sent out. Thousands of acres of land was distributed to the poor and landless labourers. Nearly 4000 communists and sympathizers were killed in the movement. The Nizam government arrested more than 10 thousand communists and put behind bars.
The communist party decided to face the Nizam’s army, police and Razakars with well-trained guerrilla struggle. Communist party and Andhra Mahasabha gave a call to the people. It was inevitable that armed squads were formed, and weapons collected. The squads consisted of committed youths. The squads used to attack the landlords and moneylenders in order to snatch the mortgaged patta papers and other documents and burn them. They took away paddy bags from godowns and distributed to the poor.
Similarly, Srikakulam struggle was an historical event in the history of Adivasi movements. Studies reveal the exploitation of tribals by the traders in Bhadragiri taluqa of Srikakulam. Indifferent attitude of government towards welfare of tribal, inability to control the money lenders – all these made the lives of Jatapus miserable. The peaceful traditional way of living in the area was completely disturbed.
The commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes of 1965-66 gave a report noting that the government of Andhra Pradesh has completely abolished the bonded labour in the agency areas of Visakhapatnam, East and West Godavari districts. In fact, the other reports reveal that the report of commission was reportedly not correct.
The movement in Srikakulam was at its peak during 1968. The Adivasis in large numbers participated in the struggle. These activities in 1969 were crowned as the centers of CPI (ML) in the districts of Khammam and Warangal. The main reason for these struggles was the failure to implement various Adivasis land rights protection laws. The Scheduled Area Land Transfer Regulation 1/59, previous AP Agency Area Land Transfer Act 1917 could not control the land snatchings. These laws did not succeed in taking out lands from the landlords.
The Srikakulam struggle opened the eyes of government. These Naxal struggles gave way to the Regulation 1/70. The Regulation 1/70 clearly states that there is a ban on transfer of lands from tribal to non-tribal and also among non-tribals.
This 1/70 Regulation also further states that until the right on lands of non-tribal is proved, the right of land is with the tribal. Such Regulations also could not stop transfer of lands in the tribal areas. The government revenue department stood in favour of the non-tribal. Thousands of settlement pattas were granted in favour of non-tribals seizing huge lands of the tribals. Even the officials granted pattas giving titles to migrant non-tribals in the plains. The struggles opposing cancellation of these illegal pattas began to take roots in these areas and are still continuing. Political struggles simultaneously in some places began to demand cancellation of these illegal settlement pattas.
During 1967 and 1969, CPI (ML) party waged many tribal struggles against non-tribal land lords and exploitation of money lenders in North Andhra area. The unrest among the Tribals of Adilabad area also sowed the seeds for Naxal activities. In 1970, the Naxalite party established Tribal Ryot Coolie Organisation in order to raise the tribals voice. As a part of its activities against exploitation, land grabbing and harassments of Forest officials, it organised a big public meeting in Indravelli on 20th April, 1981. Thousands of tribal people from the surrounding and remote areas gathered there to attend the meeting. At the last hour, the police announced the meeting has no permission. Suddenly commotion started among the large gathering. They turned violent over the Police announcement. As per the reports, a Police Constable was killed by the tribals. But, according to Civil Liberties report nearly 60 innocent tribals were killed in the Police firing. Government claimed that 16 Raj Gonds were killed.
At this juncture, the struggle at Kondamodalu in 1982 stands as an historical event in the revolutionary tribal movement. This revolutionary movement started to take back the illegally captured lands of the tribal people by migrant non tribals. As a result, revolutionary fervour blossomed in East agency area. Under the banner of Agency Girijan Sangham, nearly 2000 acres of land was seized back. They were successful in sending out the non-tribal from tribal lands. The orders issued by the then District Collector of East Godavari, MVPC Sastry subsequently in 1988 in favor of tribals and against non-tribals further helped the Agency Girijan Sangham to continue their struggle for seeking legitimacy over their land holdings.
If we examine the situation now, it seems that there is no much difference. But the forms of problems are only different. The innocent tribal continue to be stuck in a web of poverty and deceit.
Indirect oppression increased in the place of direct oppression of government. The government is implementing anti-tribal schemes, and policies of World Bank to nullify the tribals’ rights on forest lands. It is also deliberately not controlling migration of non-tribal to agency areas in order to sustain land transfers in their favour. It is evident that the government permitted illegal land transfers. The government statistics itself note that 48.5% of lands are under the control of non-tribals. The number of non-tribal settlers are increasing multifold. Many trade and commercial businesses houses of non-tribals are mushrooming in these agency areas.
The government planned to amend the Land Transfer Regulation 1 of 70 to favour the non-tribal landlords. During Telugu Desham rule, a resolution was passed in the Tribes Advisory Council in 1988 accordingly. Even the main opposition parties supported this anti-tribal resolution of the government. The peoples’ organizations and tribal unions violently protested against this strongly. With the initiative of the then Governor, Ms. Kumud Ben Joshi, the government’s policy was suspended. The government once again planned to revise the Land Transfer Regulation 1 of 70 in order to favour bauxite mining for the use of industries during 1999-2001. The Adivasi Unions protested and this proposal was dropped once again. Non-tribals in collusion with political parties, from time to time, bringing the proposals to amend LTR 1 of 70 Regulations.
From 1985 to 2000, the land clashes between tribal and non-tribal increased; the police camps were set up in the disturbed villages. In the agency area of East Godavari District, the tribal struggle erupted, and two Ryot Coolie union leaders were shot dead by the local landlords. In the same way, in the agency area of West Godavari District, Karam Parvathi was shot dead in November 1997 by the Police/Zamindari forces in the struggle of Agency Girijana Sangham(Union), against the control over lands by Non tribal Zamindar. Similarly, many protest struggles took place under the leadership of AP Girijana Sangham in Dammapeta, Jilugumilli, Buttayagudem, Polavaram Mandals. The tribal people with their traditional weapons (arrows and spears) blocked the agri-works of non-tribals. The red flags were fluttered in these lands. Police repression also continued in some pockets.
It was the non-tribal landlords who were behind the police firing in Buttlayigudem mandal during the clashes between Dalits and Adivasis. Hundreds of tribal people were arrested and kept in jails during 1995-97. Legal struggles of Non-Governmental Organizations, awareness among tribal relating to laws and acts lent good support to various struggles by Revolutionary Parties. In addition to these, some of the District Collectors and tribal welfare officials, with their soft corner for tribal people for their just struggles against for the lands tried to stop police actions thus resisting non-tribal landlords and their ill intended plans.
The problems of the tribal farmers became critical with the introduction of various practices during 1920-1980 under the pretext of protecting forests. The implementation of Forest Conservation Act 1980 regulating the conversion of forest lands for non-forestry purposes, affected the podu land rights of Adivasis. However the government could not say ‘No’ to the illegal mining operations carried out in violation of the forest conservation law. Adivasis protested the misdeeds in a gigantic way, demanding for forest rights.
The Central Government nullified anti-tribal forest policy 1952 and replaced with the new forest policy in 1988. It said that the tribal must be made part of forest development, and management of forests. Since 1990, privatisation and pro-market government schemes,reforms have comeup for implementation under the influence of World Bank’s Iinternational Monetary Fund.
In 1994, the World Bank, under the pretext of Joint Forest Management scheme, came forward with 650 crore budget disregarding the 1988 Forest policy and made the tribal people lose their lands. In Visakha agency, large number of Adivasis were driven out from 37 thousand hectares of forest area. They became displaced people. In the Godavari valley, traditional forests have been completely tansformed into monoculture Eucalyptus, herb plantations, etc. by Andhra Pradesh Forest Development Corporation for the market needs and multinational companies.
As a result of long tribal struggles since decades across the country, the central government enacted the Forest Rights Recognition Act 2006. The Central Government acknowledged a fact in the preamble of the Act that the Act was aimed to correct the historical injustice done to tribals and other traditional forest dwellers. But, the governments have failed to recognize the rights of tribal people on the their forest land occupations and community forest resource and governance rights. The Central government is proposing forest policies contrary to the spirit of recognition of forest rights. Adivasis and political activists have been demanding for decades the implementation of Forest Rights Act. In Telangana, conflicts and physical clashes are taking place between tribal and forest officials. Strong Agitation for podu land rights in Telangana is increasing in the recent times.
The Central government has brought 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments in 1992 to strengthen the local bodies. These Amendments exempt its application to the Scheduled Area. Since the advent of freedom struggle till date, the demands of Adivasis for authority and control over resources have been constantly springing up. There is no change in the thinking of Adivasis regarding liberation from exploitation and struggles against exploitative forces in these areas. Then the demand for self-rule of Adivasis has come to forefront. They have been demanding for sperate Adivasi States. As the governments continuously neglect the rights of Adivasis on lands and forests, the slogan ‘Our rule in our villages’ emerged echoing in the forests and valleys.
Responding to the constitutional mandate, the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Act 1994 was extended to the Scheduled areas also. Adilabad Gonds stopped this by fighting legally in the courts of law in 1995. The Central Government then enacted the Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Area (PESA) in 1996. The State government extended PESA by amending the State Panchayatraj Act in 1998 and notified Rules in 2011 to implement the law. In some parts of ITDA areas, the Adivasis have been agitating for implementation of PESA Act. Till now, the self-rule and empowerment of Adivasis remain merely a dream.
The main opposition parties made Adivasis victims during the AP state division in 2014. They supported the Polavaram project that undermined the lives of tens of thousands of tribal people in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Seven tribal mandals of Khammam district were transferred to A.P state. Those demanding for separate state status including intellectuals and Political parties, diluted the demand of Adivasis for a separate tribal state. The non-tribal landlords who occupied lands of the tribal in Warangal, Adilabad, Khammam districts, joined hands with Telangana separatists.
Those who questioned the supremacy of Andhra capitalists could not see Andhra migrant non-tribal settlers who have occupied thousands of acres of land of tribal in Telangana agency area. The successive governments failed to implement the Koneru Ranga Rao Land Committee Recommendations made in 2007 followed by the land reforms agenda set by Naxals. Due to dilution of 1 of 70 Regulation, Telangana aspirants who wished to have a golden Telangana, remained silent in front of the Tribal not addressing their land issues.
One more aspect which must be made a mention is that the tribal people’s’ demand for inclusion of villages into Scheduled Areas considering their large tribal population is still pending for the last four decades. The political parties also failed to materialise this demand. The earlier reports reveal 554 tribal villages in Andhra and another 247 in Telangana. These numbers must have increased by now. Even some would have become tribal minority due to migration of non-tribal into these tribal villages.
In 1976, the political parties for their selfish and vested needs pressed the Central government to declare, treating non-tribal Lambada community as Scheduled Tribe resulting in continuous clashes between underdeveloped Adivasis and the more better off Lambadas in Telanagana. The rulers are responsible for the imbalanced progress amongst various tribal groups. The agitations by Koya, Gonds and other ST groups are increasing day by day demanding for deletion of Lambadas community from the S.T list. These agitations are paving way to dilute the other basic issues of tribal people. The political parties are acting according to their whims and fancies in this regard.
The traditions, customs, and habits of the tribals are diminishing and detoriating day by day. To further dilute these traditions, the government is propping up various tourism projects. Since there is no proper protection for women and Adivasi cultures, they are being exploited and sexually harassed. Besides this, they are falling victims to gender discrimination.
The government is diverting water resources from tribal to general areas for the industrial and other plain area developmental needs by constructing reservoirs displacing the tribals. The government developmental plans are throttling the tribals, who are still poor and miserable. The very definition of development is spreading darkness in the lives of tribal people. For example: the huge Polavaram project that is constructed on the Godavari River is affecting the survival sources of tribal people making them destitutes by disregarding their livelihood.
The main political parties too, took firm decision to support the construction of Polavaram Dam. Left and revolutionary parties lacked common understanding relating to problems of tribal people. Some demanded lowering of reservoir height while some others insist for better compensation and rehabilitation. Time was lost due to these immature understandings, aimless struggles. While neglecting the land rights of Adivasis, the government paid huge amounts to non-tribal for land acquisitions. The Polavaram project has become a boon for the non-tribal to encash huge amounts from the illegally occupied tribal lands. The project construction has become a curse for Adivasis.
The government is stepping back from providing welfare measures to the tribal people. It also miserably failed to provide basic amenities like medical, health, education, transport and other facilities in the tribal areas.
National and international capital is deployed increasingly in agency area in the resources and service-related sectors. The ruthless corporate sector plunders the most valuable land and resources making the tribal binamis. The neo-rich dominates the forests and its resources over the traditional landlords. Their influence on tribal is increasing at a jet-set speed. These sections from all corners, like the octopus, are spreading their tentacles across the agency areas. They stand in support of landlords and corrupt officials. On the other hand, non-tribal communities are emerging in the agency areas with the demand of right on resources affecting the identity of Adivasis. They are completely changing the constitutional character of Scheduled Areas.
The governor issued a notification in 2000 to appoint local tribal candidates as teachers and other employees in the agency areas under 5th Schedule of Constitution. This notification (GO No 3) was set aside by the Supreme Court in 2020. With this action by the apex court of India, the constitutional rights provided for tribal people have been upturned. This has become the prime factor to push the tribal onto the crossroads of confusion and chaos.
The organizations, political parties which must protect the basic rights of Adivasis are keeping dumb due to selfish motives and vote bank politics. They are also unable to stop anti tribal policies of government. Some other parties and organizations damaging tribal rights hide their faces. The democratic supporters of Adivasis are becoming a minority and unable to show the expected impact on the lives of Adivasis.
However, a drastic change is seen amongst the fighting sections to protect the rights of tribal people. But compared to previous movements, one can see the difference in the ongoing struggles and movements. Coordination amongst them and a proper understanding of the problems and critical issues of people are lacking. On one side the Adivasis Groups protest struggles are going on on the premises of Constitutional safeguards and tribal rights demanding the implementation of 1 of 70 Regulation, while some protests of the left and revolutionary movements are progressing with class consciousness. In this process, some left groups forget the basic differences in the constitutional rights between tribal and non-tribal people. This dilemma is creating confusion amongst tribal with regard to the implementation of 1 of 70 Regulation and podu land rights.
Until 1970, many tribal protection acts were brought out because of various heroic and historical struggles across the country. From 1970 to 2020, many struggles were seen to be mere protest struggles demanding the implementation of acts. Since the Supreme Court nullified the GO. Ms No 3, the struggles have now to be to protect the rights ensured in the Fifth Schedule of constitution itself. If this situation continues to progress, there will be a great danger to the existence of tribal people. How long the 1 of 70 Regulation remains for implementation is an enigma? Such a pathetic atmosphere will extract its blood.
People’s consciousness, and democratic and political tribal movements are the need of the hour. Joint struggles and movements are very much essential at present for the liberation of Adivasis from exploitation, for their control over resources, and to achieve self-rule. Let us hope the tribal’ long pending genuine issues are not side-tracked by the ideas of mainstream political parties. Let us hope to continue the movement with Adivasi rights agenda. Let us march forward to bring the past glorious history of the ardent children of mother forest.

Thanks to the inputs from Anishetty Shankar, Writer & Translator and CR Bijoy, Independent Researcher



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