Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Justice Denied

The musing on patriarchy in Bhil society led me on to the patriarchy of the state and the plight of one Bhil woman - Sagarbai. Her husband was murdered by forest officials in 1999 when he was returning from answering nature's call early in the morning. The forest officials had gone to his village to terrorise people there as part of a campaign against a mass organisation of the Bhils that was agitating for their fundamental rights. The organisation in question Adivasi Morcha Sangathan then launched a sit in at the police station demanding that the culprits be arraigned for murder and apprehended. The administration had to acqueisce to this immediately but it later backtracked on its promise to arraign the accused forest department staff under the more stringent provisions of the Prevention of Atrocities Against Tribals Act. This meant that Sagarbai would not get the compensation of Rs One lakh fifty thousand that she was entitled to under the rules when an adivasi is murdered by a non-adivasi.
The Adivasi Morcha Sangathan helped Sagarbai to file a petition in the High Court in Indore against this injustice in 2000. After prolonged litigation in which the state continually tried to stall the proceedings the High Court of Indore delivered a judgment ordering the payment of Rs Two lakh to Sagarbai in December 2006. However, the payment was not made and only a letter was sent to her by the district collector saying that the administration was going to appeal against the order and so no payment would be made. When there was no sign of any appeal in the High Court even after the limitation period for such an appeal of three months was over a notice was sent to the various respondents who were all functionaries of the state government as to why a contempt petition should not be moved against them. The collector replied once again that an appeal was being filed in the High Court. However no appeal has yet been filed and so now a contempt petition is going to be filed by Sagarbai.
If this is the attitude of the state towards adivasis and especially women it is not difficult to understand why they are in such a sorry plight today. Justice in this country is notoriously expensive to obtain and in the case of adivasis it is well nigh out of reach.

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