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1500 Santhal Adivasis evicted from forest land of Assam

BONGAIGAON, Nov 3 / Assamtribune – The Forest department under Haltugaon Forest Division in the western part of the State has burnt down houses of more than 1500 Adivasi families of 33 forest villages in Longchung Forest area in the name of an eviction drive from forest land. Under open sky and beside their belongings which were burnt to ashes, many malnourished mothers were noticed standing like statues with their newborns in their lap. Small children were seen having shelter under wild bushes. School books of children, clothes, crops, bicycles, ploughs were lying burnt. Several pre-primary and primary school houses, temples and churches were set on fire by the forest workers, locals of this forest area alleged.

Some victims even complained of misbehaviour by the eviction party. No prior notice was served to these innocent poor Adivasis by the Forest department. These Adivasi people have been living in these forest villages since generations. "Since Adivasis are forest dwellers, they have every right to settle in forest land and the Forest Right Act, 2006 has confirmed this right" many leaders of Adivasi organisations pointed out. Hence violation of this Act is an offence. Therefore, the Forest department and other security forces who are evicting the Adivasis should be punished, the leaders demanded.


Chief of Birsa Commando Force, Birsing Munda in his reaction said that these Adivasi people have been living in forest land since 1974. On the other hand, AASAA president Borko Charmako said that the eviction drive should stop immediately otherwise a massive agitation will be launched. The BCF chairman Durga Hasda expressing his anger said that in every eviction in BTC only Adivasis are targeted.
Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam (ACMA) chairman Jabrias Xaxa said that their organisation will bring this matter to the notice of State and Central Governments. However, Adivasi Sewa Samiti president Boyel Hembram termed this eviction as a political conspiracy.

It is to be mentioned that, all the victims of this eviction drive are the supporters of BTC chief Hagrama Mahilary. In the last BTC poll they cast their vote for Hagrama. But, now they are helpless. Not a single BPF party leader is standing beside these poor victims in this crucial time, the Adivasi leaders rued.


Already a massive 'green hunt' is going on in the dense forests of Kokrajhar and Chirang districts by the timber 'Mafias'. Sources said that the Forest department, police and politicians are in a nexus and favour these mafias and helping deforestation. "Adivasis are not involved in deforestation, they know sustainable use of forest products. So, what purpose will be served by evicting Adivasis from their dwellings, questioned the Adivasi leaders.


Protesting this eviction drive and demanding early rehabilitation of the poor Adivasis of those forest villages, eight Adivasi organisations have jointly called a 12-hour Assam bandh on November 4. Later, if the situation warrants, they will launch a strong democratic agitation.

Two churches razed amid eviction of Santhal tribals in Assam


Christiantoday / 3 November 2010: A total of about 1,215 families have been affected and the victims include children and pregnant women.


Two churches were allegedly burnt down as the Assam Forest Department pounced upon houses of tribal families living in Lungsung area of Kokrajhar district, Assam. According to sources at the site, a Catholic church at Kodomtola Village and a Pentecost church at Gadatola were burnt while an eviction team savagely burnt over 400 hutments belonging to the Santhal community.


A total of about 1,215 families have been affected and the victims include children and pregnant women. Supposedly, more than 200 men were employed to evict the Adivasis who although were living in Assam for decades had to flee their homes as they were yet to be granted the tribal status.


But a fact-finding report by two activists, informs that the Adivasis occupied the area much before 1965 and in 1974 were also promised land entitlements by the government. The report informed that the eviction team ruthlessly dealt with the Adivasis and even arrested about 44 men who stood against the women being molested. "The victims comprise of women, children, babies, lactating mothers, pregnant women, sick and infirmed. They have lost everything and are spending cold nights under the open sky," said the report.


The leaders of the villages have reported to the local media but so far there has been little response. Apart from the two churches, eight primary schools as well were burnt in the assault.


The two activists - Satyanath Tudu and Stephen Lakra - have called on NGOs to spring into action by providing food and shelter to the 45 villages affected. In addition to that, counselling and medical care must be provided to the raped victims.


Though 40 to 50 lakh Santhals had lived in Assam for between 50 and 100 years the Assam government had not given them tribal status, he told media. Santhal tribe is the largest tribe in India, found mainly in the Indian states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar.



Assam shuts against eviction of Adivasis


IndianExpress/05Nov2010: Normal life was disrupted in several districts of Assam on Thursday following a 12-hour bandh called by seven Adivasi organisations to register their protest against eviction of about 1,500 families of the community from reserved forests in Kokrajhar district last week.


Bandh supporters took to violence in several districts, damaging government as well as private vehicles. In Lakhimpur district in eastern Assam, at least one person sustained severe burn injuries when people set his motorcycle on fire for allegedly defying the bandh. Bandh supporters also damaged vehicles in Dibrugarh, Udalguri, Sonitpur and Baska districts.


Former Jharkhand chief minister and Jharkhand Vikash Parishad (JVP) leader Babulal Marandi, who visited the affected area in Kokrajhar district Thursday, met the evicted Adivasi people and accused the state government and the Bodoland Territorial Council of particularly targeting the community.


Marandi said the Adivasis who were rendered homeless during the eviction had been living in those areas for more than three decades.

Khampha Borgoyari, deputy chief executive member of the Bodoland Territorial Council, said there was no question of discriminating against the Adivasis during the eviction drive. "The people who have been evicted in the past few days comprise Adivasis, Bodos, Nepali and Rajbangshis, and they had encroached the forest in the past four years," Borgoyari said.


Giving a break-up of the evicted people, Borgoyari said while there were about 1,400 Adivasis families and 600 Bodo families apart from a few hundred Nepali and Rajbangshi families. "But it is a fact that most of the Adivasis are from West Bengal and Jharkhand," he claimed.