CEC, AIKMS Call to Observe International Indigenous People’s Day on August 9


Observe International Indigenous People’s Day on August 9 to Demand:

Rights of Tribals over land and Forest.

Save and Develop Tribal Culture and Languages.

Law for MSP of all Forest Produce and all Crops.

Repeal 3 Pro Corporate, anti Farmer Farm Laws.

Dear Friends,

Tribals have been an important part of our civilization. They constitute 8% of our population. Hundreds of tribes have distinctive culture and language. Though many of them are categorised as Scheduled Tribes, several remain excluded for decades.

Despite this they are living in the most exploited, deprived and oppressed conditions and their very existence is threatened. They are being deprived from their land and forest in the name of development, which is a metaphor for Corporate loot of their resources. Due to the anti poor policies of successive Govts tribal communities, their languages and culture remain undeveloped and many are face extinction today. The United Nation in 1994 had declared August 9 of every year, as the Indigenous People’s Day.

In earlier period of feudal rule tribals were exploited by the feudal kings and landlords. British colonialists accelerated their exploitation and took away even their age old forest rights by enacting the infamous Forest Conservation Act, bringing forests under complete control of the Govt. This law and the 1894 Land Acquisition Act was used to forcibly evict them.

Tribals waged several struggles against the British exploiters, local landlords, non-tribal traders and money lenders who carried out large scale exploitation and repression of tribals. There were many armed rebellions against colonial power. These included the big rebellions of tribals led by Tilka Majhi, Birsa Munda, Sidhu-Kanu, Alluri Sitaram Raju, Komram Bhim, Laxman Nayak and others. They forced rulers to enact some laws to check tribal land alienation.

After the departure of British, the native rulers continued the same repressive forest laws and more stringent laws were enacted by subsequent Govts. Devoid of any rights, tribals were made outsiders in their own forests; their harassment and exploitation by the forest and police officials continues; their land and forest are handed over to domestic and foreign Corporates for crude exploitation of minerals, forest and water resources and to Govt agencies for construction of big dams, cities, commercial projects, SEZs, etc; eviction for them is common, they are more than half of all the displaced people of our country; they are denied adequate and timely compensation for their acquired lands; they have been pushed to survive by doing the most menial jobs in cities; the 2006 Forest Rights Act, PESA Act 1996 and the LARR 2013 have failed to bring any meaningful change in their conditions. Tribal struggles continue to shine on the scene of peasant protests of our country. From Kalingnagar to Niyamgiri, tribals have been in the forefront of all resistance against forced displacement.
Despite the Forest Right Act, 2006, guaranteeing 10 acres forest land per family, dwellings, Rights over Minor Forest Produce, Community Rights, Habitat Rights, Cultural and Religious Rights to Tribals, they and non tribal forest poor continue to be haunted by forced evictions. In many states, particularly in Telangana, tribal people cultivating forest land for decades are being mercilessly evicted by using armed police, destroying and burning their crops. After enactment of CAMPA Act, afforestation by large scale forceable plantation is being carried out on land of tribal villages existing for several decades. The govt is further changing the law, which do away with the existing environment protection requirements also.

Despite being the most hardworking and simple, straightforward people, tribals live under severe poverty, illiteracy and impoverishment. Their children suffer severe anaemia, malnutrition and amongst the highest child death rate.

RSS/ BJP led Modi govt has launched a very serious attack on farmers of India by undemocratically passing the 3 Farm Acts. These laws pave the way for Corporate to control over food and agriculture. Tribals also will be affected. Contract farming will lead to loss of their land. Prices of inputs and services will rise drastically. Mandi Bypass will lead to Corporate Market Control and Govt procurement will end, meaning they will no longer get subsidised food grains through PDS. Food prices will rise.

Along with this, attacks by the state on tribals also have risen. In Narayanpur district of Chattisgarh, mining permission was given without following the Environment clearances and tribals who protested to safeguard their forest, land and water were attacked by security forces. Regularly, police camps are being established and tribals are fired upon in order to frighten them and take over their forests for Companies. For Modi Govt’s Bullet Train project 296 tribal villages in 5 districts of Maharashtra and Gujarat will be uprooted. On July 10th, 40 tribal houses in Negaon- Jamniya in MP were uprooted, leaving more than 212 tribals homeless. Six tribals were arrested to prevent protests. These attacks are particularly intense in Burhanpur and Khandwa. In AP and Telangana, thousands of tribal families are facing eviction due to water rising in the Polavaram reservoirs and tribals are being forced to move away since May, with the govt not providing any compensation or rehabilitation. More than 2 lac tribal families from 600 villages in 7 Mandals of Telangana have been forced to flee their land and houses and stay in temporary huts on nearby hillocks. A very large number of tribal people have been falsely implicated under UAPA and Sedition in the name of being Maoists.
We hail the struggle of thousands of farmers sitting on the border of Delhi for more than 8 months against these black laws and for a law on MSP of all crops, including Minor Forest Produce on Swaminathan formula.

On the occasion of International Indigenous People’s Day, we urge all Tribal and Democratic Peasant organizations to observe this day by organizing wide mass protests on above demands. Tribal communities should intensify their struggle for land and forest rights. Loot of our natural resources by Corporate should be resisted. A protracted struggle should be waged for self-rule of tribals and to develop tribal language, script, literature and culture. State repression should be resisted. Let us fight for having a dignified life for all tribals.

August 1, 2021