By the early 1980s things got very difficult as the bribes and the beatings increased manifold and it became almost impossible to exist. On one occasion Daheli's husband Lalia was so severely beaten up that he bled from his anus for days on end and could not get up from bed. Then in 1983 Khemla Aujnaharia, a Bhil tribal activist who had fought many battles against the police and the forest department in Alirajpur was invited along with some non-tribal activists who were working with him to come and help the Mathwar tribals. Thus began the struggle against the forest department which later evolved into the KMCS.
Daheli led from the front in this struggle. She mobilised the women of Attha and they went and confronted the Forest Department staff when they came to beat their men. She led other women to come out of their homes and go to Alirajpur to participate in rallies and dharnas to highlight the oppression of the forest department. These struggles along with that of many other tribal people across the country finally resulted in the Forest Rights Act coming into force in 2007 and now the tribals in Alirajpur have legal title to their land.
Daheli has not only fought the State for her rights but has also mobilised the women of her village to protect the forests. They regularly go out on patrols to guard the forest as shown below. The forest is now lush green and since other villages in the watershed have also followed this practice, the stream running through the village has become perennial.
Even though both KMCS and Dahelibai have lost a considerable amount of their militant dynamism of the early years, the fire continues to burn in both. Those initial struggles have ensured that the people these days lead much more secure lives and they are mostly in control of their village resources. Also by migrating to labour in Gujarat off and on they are able to earn extra income which results in cash in their hands and better food, clothing and housing. But this is not the only things we had in mind when we started fighting all those years ago. Daheli and all the rest of us had dreamed of tribal self rule. However, that has remained a distant dream due to the increasing power of capitalism. We need many more Dahelibais among the new generation now for that dream to be realised.