‘SC order on land rights against spirit of Constitution’

The Hindu | Special Correspondent | Vizag | June 06, 2019

Around 66,000 adivasi families in State face eviction, says farmers’ body.

Alleging that the directive issued by Supreme Court on February 13 on eviction of tribal people from forest land is against the letter and spirit of the Schedule V and VI of the Constitution and other acts that protect the tribal rights, the members of All India Khet Majdoor Kisan Sabha (AIKMKS) have demanded that the order be revoked.

The AIKMKS members and leaders from several tribal organisations from Andhra Pradesh, neighbouring Telangana and Odisha deliberated on the issue during a day-long convention here on Wednesday.

“The Supreme Court’s directive is not only against the basic rights of the tribal people, but also violates the safeguards that the girijans enjoy under the Forest Rights Act of 2006, Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, PESA 1/70 Act of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, and 2/56 Act of Odisha,” A.P. Rytu Coolie Sangham president S. Jhansi, who is also vice-president of AIKMKS, said, adding that it was time the Central and State governments intervened in the issue.

“In reality, none of the Acts that envisage protecting the tribal rights are implemented in letter and spirit. Now, the apex court has come up with this draconian directive,” Ms. Jhansi observed.

The Supreme Court had issued an order directing the State governments to evict the tribal people from forests, whose claims were rejected by June 18 and submit satellite images to substantiate the action taken.

‘Stay order not enough’

“Though there is a stay on the order as of now, we demand the directive be revoked for good as 66,000 adivasi families in Andhra Pradesh, 82,000 in Telangana and 1.22 lakh tribal families in Odisha will be evicted from their homes,” Ms. Jhansi pointed out.

Participating in the programme, Former Central Information Commissioner (CIC) Madabhushi Sridhar pointed out that the forests belonged to adivasis and various Acts were in force to safeguard their rights.

Left-wing extremism

“Forest rights were drafted and implemented even before the land rights came into the picture. The apex court directive is nothing but a mockery. The main reason for tribal unrest and left-wing extremism making inroads into the tribal pockets is the infringement of adivasi rights by the government authorities,” Mr. Sridhar pointed out.

All-India convener Subodh Mitra and leaders such as Srikant Mohanti, Borra Anand and Ganesh Panda and others spoke on the occasion. In the evening, a colourful rally was take out near Jail Road.

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