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Medha asks tribal forest dwellers to continue struggle for their rights

Special Correspondent

``Government uses any excuse to deny rights to adivasis, Dalits''


  • CPI MPs express solidarity with forest dwellers
  • Companies have annexed country's resources: Sandeep Pandey

    NEW DELHI: Tribal forest dwellers must continue their struggle for their rights and land even when the Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2005 is passed in Parliament, social activist Medha Patkar said on Monday.

    This is necessary for the Government does not often comply with its own laws, she told demonstrators here. "People can take care of their own resources far better than any government agency." It is with this in mind that the joint parliamentary committee recommended that the gram sabha and the traditional panchayat be the decision-making authorities on such matters, not the unaccountable government bureaucrats.

    Ms. Patkar said those who lived in forests were those who protected them. The forests existed in adivasi areas. The Government used any excuse to deny rights to the adivasis, the Dalits and other rural people, while handing over land and resources to private companies. She called on the demonstrators to continue their fight for jal, jangal and jamin — their only sources of livelihood — and not to surrender before the Government and private companies.

    Three CPI MPs, CK. Chandrappan, Sudhakar Reddy and Azeez Pasha, also addressed the dharna.

    Mr. Chandrappan, a member of the joint parliamentary committee, said the 30-member committee's recommendations were unanimous, yet the Government refused to agree.

    Mr. Reddy said the Government must recognise the rights of genuine non-tribals and the 1980 date must be changed, as it would imply denying the rights of the natural citizens of the forest.

    Mr. Pasha said the CPI was committed to the JPC and the forest rights Bill and to a genuine solution to the historical injustice done to forest dwellers. The party would fight for their cause inside Parliament.

    Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey said companies had annexed the country's resources with the collusion of the Government. The ultimate victims of these policies were the poor, the adivasis and the Dalits, he added.

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