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Adivasis under attack, asserts global NGO IPMSDL, as India gets first tribal President

By Our Representative 

Stating that adivasis, tribal and indigenous peoples are “under attack” in India, the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), a top global NGO has said, it stands with them “in their struggle for justice.”
In a media communique, released amidst India choosing its first adivasi President, Droupadi Murmu, it said, “Everyday attacks, criminalization and oppression towards tribal communities, adivasi, especially tribal women and girls, most of them unreported, are a daily occurrence.”
Offering specific instances of attacks, quoting a report, IPMSDL, whose headquarters are in Phillipines, said, “A tribal woman from the Guna district in Madhya Pradesh was burned alive by a group of men allegedly encroaching on their family’s agricultural land. Rampyari Bai belonged to the Saharia tribe, a tribe classified under the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PTVGs).”
Yet another report pointed to how “powerful men” threatened to grab the land awarded to them under the welfare scheme of the former Digvijay Singh government. The perpetrators attacked Rampyari Bai, poured diesel over her, and lit her alive.
“Videos of the victim burning had been circulating on social media platforms. Reports said the land grabbing and threats were already reported to the police but no action was taken. The victim Rampyari has succumbed to her injuries”, IPMSDL said.
Stating that “the brutal incident gained outpouring condemnation making the #TribalsNotSafeInIndia trend over social media”, the global NGO asserted, “The past, present and continuing atrocities committed against tribals, adivasis and indigenous peoples in India ranging from issues of land dispossession, lethal attacks and discrimination against their indigeneity, social class or caste, were brought to the fore.”
Quoting statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau point to increased cases of atrocities committed against Scheduled Tribes, IPMSDL said, “There are only 705 indigenous peoples that the State of India legally recognized as part of the Scheduled Tribes”, regretting, “Many more ethnic groups in India are without official recognition.”
“As such, there are many unregistered cases of attacks against Indigenous Peoples in these official data”, said IPMSDL, adding, “The International Work Group for Indigenous affairs raised concerns over official reports stating that these reports do not include cases of human rights violations by security forces.”
According to IPMSDL, “Security forces continue to violate indigenous peoples’ rights in Central and Northeast India.” Thus, in Madhya Pradesh the “forest department forcefully evicted the Bhil and Barela Adivasi communities in the Khwanda district, in July 2021, without prior notice and in clear violation of the Forest Rights Act.”
Then, “In Nagaland, Northeast India, 13 Indigenous Naga civilians were killed by security forces on December 04, 2021, under the auspices of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which has enabled the continuing abuse of Indigenous Peoples by the armed forces.”
Further, “In Chhattisgarh, Adivasi communities continue to resist the state government’s plan to reduce 840 acres of the Hasdeo Arand forest for coal mining activities to address coal shortage reports. This plan will effectively displace around 10,000 Adivasis and destroy their lives and livelihood.”
“According to Alok Shukla of the Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan organization, more than 450,000 trees will be cut, severely impacting the area’s wildlife and biodiversity”, IPMSDL said.
It added, “Although the Hasdeo Arand forest, a biodiversity-rich reserve, was initially classified as a “no-go area” for coal mining by the Ministry of Coal and the Ministry of Forest and Environment in 2010, the state forest department has begun cutting trees for the second phase of mining for the Parsa coal mine project.”
However, it lamented, despite the fact that the “struggles of the indigenous peoples of India have become more apparent as cases of land rights violation and abuse of indigenous peoples increase, news and media coverage of these incidents are still lacking.”
Expressing solidarity with the fight for rights of India's indigenous peoples, IPMSDL said the environmental and climate issues are linked with the manner in which forests and ancestral lands are being “targeted and encroached upon by state forces and corporations for resource plunder.”
Insisting on the need to build a movement in solidarity to “all the adivasi groups, tribal and indigenous communities in India”, it said, against the continuing attacks on them, “Our most potent action is our capacity to assert and resist as a unified community of indigenous peoples rights defenders in holding accountable oppressive states, imperialist, and corporate instruments of rights violations.”

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