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Struggle for survival

Struggle for survival

The relentless struggle spanning 162 days by the Adivasis organized by the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha has finally come to an end with the government accepting all the demands.

The ‘Nilpu Samaram’ or standing protest was led by C K Janu, in front of the Secretariat in the capital city for winning back a piece of land that belongs to the Adivasis. The Adivasis across the state participated in the protest and huge public and media attention it received and the backing from the opposition front and the progressive democrats compelled the government to take immediate action in the matter. The Adivasi protests have always been neglected by the main stream political parties and the other concerned people. The government finally gave in approving a new tribal package which envisages an exclusive tribal panchayat for the protection of Adivasi rights.

According to the package, the two sides reached an agreement that 7, 693 hectares of forest land would be allotted to the landless tribals within one year. The families who lost their homes in the Muthanga incident of 2003 would be given an acre of land and Rs 2.5 lakh for construction of their home. All the cases registered against them related to the Muthanga stir except the CBI cases would be withdrawn. The children who were detained during the same protest would also be given a compensation of Rs 1 lakh. The A K Antony government granted 7, 693 hectacres of forest land to the tribals in 2002 following agitation. But the promise was not fulfilled and led to the famous Muthaga protest in 2003, a milestone in the history of the Adivasis.

The victory attained after four months of struggle has been welcomed with immense relief. The tribal community is denied the benefits which are enjoyed by other residents including the basic rights like home and shelter. The minority is fighting for their legal right over a piece of land owned by them. Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha has been agitating since 2001 for redistribution of land to the landless adivasis in the state. The struggle for survival has led to many violent protests which fizzled out with time. The anxiety of the tribal people is justified as the government had failed to implement the demands agreed between both the sides, giving away to protests. Whether the government would safeguard the rights of these minorities or fail to implement the agreement this time, is yet to be seen.

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