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.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Land Land Everywhere but not for Adivasis

Madhya Pradesh JANPAHAL and BHOO ADHIKAR ABHIYAN report that they have organized a land rights campaign- ‘MARCH’ in more than 40 districts of Madhya Pradesh in favour of land entitlements and possession over land to Dalit (schedule caste) and Adivasi (schedule tribe) community. In the year 2002, the Madhya Pradesh government had issued/ distributed  the land entitlements (Patta) to 344329 families over nearly 7 lakhs acre of land for landless Dalit and Adivasi community households (Dalit-224353 families over 447861 acre land and Adivasis - 119976 families over 250715.72 acre land). But ground observations/realities are that only 20-30 percent Dalit and Adivasi family members have gained possession over the distributed land committed by government till date. It means more than 2.50 lakhs schedule caste and scheduled tribe community people are still "DENIED FROM THEIR RIGHTS OVER LAND" in Madhya Pradesh.   
On the same lines, under the Forest Rights Act (The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights Act, 2006), the Government had promised to issue land entitlements for tribal and other forest dwellers over their possessed forest land.  In Madhya Pradesh till 30th September 2013, a total of 481128 claims were filed by the Adivasi community and eligible forest dwellers. BUT A TOTAL  of 289995 CLAIMS WERE REJECTED by DISTRICT LEVEL COMMITTEES without giving ANY REASON.
This puts a question on the INTENTION OF THE GOVERNMENT to provide Land rights to Dalit and Adivasi communities. Government departments/officials which were supposed to help the most marginalised people to file their claims and complete the process for the possession of land have instead conspired to deny more than 5.50 lakhs (289995 under FRA and 2.50 Lakhs under 2002 Bhopal Declaration) families of Dalit and Adivasi communities. What is more atrocities are being perpetrated over these marginalised communities in Madhya Pradesh by Government servants when they demand their rights.
THUS, Land rights campaign and JANPAHAL Madhya Pradesh demand
·         That possession should be ensured to More than 2,50,000 families of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes over the government promised land under BHOPAL Declaration, immediately.
·         Total rejected 2,89,995 claims under forest rights acts should be considered and they should be issued the individual as well as community land entitlement by the government without any delay.
·         The landless families from schedule castes and schedule tribes should be identified and given at least 5 acres land as soon as possible (deadline should be declared by the government).
·         Homestead (residential purpose) land entitlement should be given on the possessed land by schedule caste and schedule tribe in Urban as well as rural area.
·         Women land rights should be given equal and legal rights over property and also ensured the ‘one stop crisis centre’ at all level.
·         Any kind of displacement should not be permitted without the consent of the affected group/ gram sabha people/members.

The Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath too is conducting a tour across the districts of Alirajpur, Dhar, Barwani, Khargone, Khandwa and Dewas in Western Madhya Pradesh as part of this March and its focus is on highlighting the neglect of the great Bhil Adivasi heroes who have been martyred in the fight for their rights. The idea being that since the Government is bent on ignoring the Adivasis, the latter will have to gird up to fight and what better way to do this than to relive the great fights put up by their martyrs. As part of this Shankar Tadwal, the Chairperson of KMCS and his team visited the village of Dhaba Baodi in the Satpura Hills in Barwani district which is the home village of the great Bhil martyr Bhima Naik on 6th March 2013. Bhima Naik fought a decade long battle against the British in the 1850s and 1860s concurrent with the first war of independence in 1857 but for a much longer time. He was finally apprehended and killed by the British through treachery. A picture of the meeting conducted in the village by the KMCS team is shown below.
The people of the village vociferously said that they had not been given any land both under the Bhopal Declaration and the Forest Rights Act. However, they were even more angry because of the neglect of their great ancestor Bhima Naik by the Government. It was a long standing demand of the villagers that the hill on which Bhima Naik's Fort stood should be protected and the crumbling fort  which is shown below should be restored.
The Sarpanch Sher Singh said that the Government instead of heeding their demand had instead sanctioned more than a crore of rupees to build a new memorial which is totally at odds with the traditional Adivasi culture and stands out like a sore thumb as shown below.

 There is a shrine inside the fort shown below where even today people come from far and wide to pay obeisance to the great martyr and it is taken care of by a Bhil Adivasi pujari named Vivek.
The dilapidated condition of the fort inside is such that unless repairs are undertaken soon the whole edifice will collapse as shown in the picture below.
Shankar told the people that under the Forest Rights Act they could file a community forest claim to take control of the sacred hillock and all the surrounding forest land and that he would mobilise the whole Adivasi community to build up pressure on the concerned Government departments to restore the glory of this important monument of Adivasi bravery. Presently the fort looks forlorn on top of the barren hillock as shown below.
The picture above is a telling comment on the plight of the Bhil Adivasis of Western Madhya Pradesh and the way in which they have been ignored by Governments in independent India. Not only have they been displaced from their forests, streams and lands but even their martyrs and memorials are in neglect. Even when the great Bhima's contribution is recognised by the Government it rides rough shod over the demands of the people and instead constructs a grotesque memorial building instead. The land rights campaign in general and this particular meeting has brought to the fore the injustice of there being land in plenty everywhere but not for the poor Adivasis.

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