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Madhya Pradesh adivasis end protest as officials agree to examine forest land claims

By Our Representative
Protesting under the banner of the civil rights group Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), over a thousand Adivasis of Burhanpur district, Madhya Pradesh, who had occupied of Nepanagar tehsil office, have returned home with all their demands fulfilled, and the administration kick-starting verification of claims for entire district. They wanted steps for implementing the Forest Rights Act (FRA), even as opposing the Forest Conservation Rules 2022
Amidst songs and slogans of victory, the triumphant Adivasis ended the two day protest, insisting, their forest rights claims be verified through the Gram Sabha, and claims which were wrongfully processed be returned.
Another demand was that those who were wrongfully denied a chance to register their claims on the Madhya Pradesh Vanmitra portal, have their claims registered as per law. Adivasis were especially adamant over implementation of FRA recognizing that FRA implementation is being stalled deliberately to make forest diversion even easier, with the new changes in the Forest Connservation Rules, 2022.
During an earlier protest, on 24th January, thousands of Adivasis demanded that district administration immediately begin implementation of the FRA, warning district administration of launching a continuous protest until the process of their claims was completed.
Amidst changes in the Forest Conservation Rules, which grant in-principle agreement to projects and companies before the process of verification of Forest Rights Claims is completed, and which violates the rights of the Gram Sabha, Adivasis are adamant that the State is deliberately lagging on the implementation of the forest rights so that diversion of forests becomes even easier, said a JADS statement.
The two day protest began on 7th February. It ended after administration officials were forced to reach up to the people, who questioned them over their “failures”. Burhanpur district has seen multiple cases of FRA violations with people being implicated in false cases, attempted to be forcibly evicted, faced illegal firing, in the past 4-5 years, said JADS.
It added, even now, the forest departments continues to call Adivasi cultivators as "encroachers" and criminalizes them, extorts money for using tractors, threshing machines in their own fields. While the district has also seen unprecedented incidents of illegal felling as a result of the complicity of Forest Department Staff, who are taking bribes in exchange for "selling off" patches of land to those felling forest lands illegally, all of which continue to be resisted by the Adivasis of Burhanpur.



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