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Destruction of 15,000 acre forest land, attack on tribal leaders: MP women lead protest

By Our Representative 

Thousands of tribals of Barwani, mobilized against the alleged attack on tribals under the banner of the Jagrut Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), have protested against the Madhya Pradesh (MP) government for the destruction of 15,000 acres of forest, insisting, the guilty officials should be punished.
Gathered in in Barwani, JADS particularly objected to the order banishing tribal leader Madhuri Behan, associate of the Burhanpur Sangathan, to district Badar, terming it as an “attack on conscience of the tribals.”
The tribal rally led by women started from Indrajit Hostel and reached the collector's office via Anjad Naka. On reaching the collector's office, they raised slogans of "Sarkar teri dictatorship nahi chalegi" and "Haq nahi toh jail sahi".
A JADS statement said, the Madhya Pradesh government allowed 15,000 acres of forest to be cut, and started attacking those tribals who stood up to save its forest, which exposed the government's complicity in the destruction of the forest.
To cover up their theft, government officials are now arresting tribal leaders and demolishing the houses of forest rights claimants, JADS activist Taraki Bai, addressing the protesters, said, adding, they had reached the district collector’s office to raise their voice against “this theft of the government.”
JADS insisted, action should be taken against those officials who have cut down the forest, even as pointing out, the government instead wants to suppress the tribals and crush their constitutional movement by acting against the workers of the organization.
Even after the state government began implementing the Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996, by promulgating its rules in 2022, it is not following its provisions JADS saaid. Thus, the gram sabhas are not being consulted before any land acquisition process is sought to be undertken in the tribal areas.
JADS activist Harsing Bhai expressed concern that people are rapidly leaving their villages and going to other states, especially Gujarat and Maharashtra, for work. Descendants of Bhima Nayak, who fought against the British government to protect the water, forest and land, are today forced to do bonded labour in far-flung areas of Maharashtra by becoming labourers.
JADS said, the MLA of the district is the minister of social justice in the state, but he has not taken any action on the atrocities being committed on the tribals -- he did not take any action on the death of a Sehariya tribal woman in Guna, nor on the death of Bishan Bhil.
After submitting a memorandum addressed to the chief minister to a senior district official, the agitated tribals declared their decision to continue their struggle. The Narmada Bachao Andolan, which supported JADS rally, also submitted a memorandum to the chief minister protesting Madhuri Bahen's being banished from the district.

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