Name of the Victims: Maggidi Buchhamma, 70 years and her daughter Maggidi Manga
Dominant Caste Culprits: Balta Rjamouli his Son and Allam Ravi
When: 23rd July 2017, Sunday, morning Where: Rendlaguda (Mandapally), Jannaram Mandal, Mancherial District, Telangana
Why: Maggidi Buchamma and her daughter Maggidi Manga went to the house of Balta Rajamouli on 23rd July 2017 morning to ask their land documents back which they are duped and cheated.
Background: Maggidi Buchamma was gifted 3 Guntas of land by her son in law Late Bade Lingaiah in early 2006, who owns 50 Guntas of land in Sy no 29 of Vempally , Kothapally Shivar near Mancherial Town. In october 2006, elder daughter of Buchamma committed suicide. After 3 days of her daugher suicide, Being same villager, Baltha Rajamouli a dominantcaste man approached Buchamma and told her that she will get money as compensation for the death of her daughter and took her in his car to Mancherial town. In Mancherial town, Rajamouli asked Buchamma to sign on some papers. That time Buchamma was not aware that she was signing sale deeds of the land extend 50 Guntas belongs to his son in law in Sy.No 29 Vempally, Kothapally shivar. After some days, Rajamouli asked Buchamma that she need to submit her land papers to release of the compensation cheque that awarded for the death of her daughter. Buchamma gave documents of her land. But there was no compensation or he gave back her land documents. Rajamouli, Kasam Sathaiah and other land mafia managed the local administration and registered entire land on the name of Thota Rajaiah first and then sold it to others. When the land owner Bade Lingaiah came to know about this, he challanged this forgery and cheating of land mafia. According to Buchamma, Bade Lingaiah was unable to bare this cheating and loss of land he died of heart attack in 2010. Then onwards Bade Lingaiah wife Bade Raju pursuing the case and going around the official praying for getting her land back. Bade Raju approached police officials as there was no response from revenue officials. Mancherial DSP asked Naspur police to look into the matter. On 10th July 2017, Naspur police called Buchamma and asked her that she has signed on the documents of sale of entire land belongs to Bade Lingaiah though she was only gited 3 Guntas of land. Shocked knowing this, Buchamma went to Balthe Rajamouli house on 23rd July 2017 along with her daughter and asked what he did with her land documents.
Immidiately, Balthe Rajamouli, his son and Allam Ravi started beating both of them and abused on the name of their caste also threatened to kill if they pursue the case further.
In another case, Balthe Rajamouli enchroahced assigned land of husband of Buchamma, Late Maggidi Lingaiah and sold it to Allam Ravi. When Buchamma filed case with District collector, he ordered land to be restored to Buchamma. A surveyor from District collector office came to the land site and measured the land also asked Buchamma to arrange the identification poles around the land, and Buchamma did the same. On very next day night all boundary polls from the land was removed by Allam Ravi and Balthe Rajamouli.
Buchamma approached Sub Inspector of Police and Assistant Commissioner of police but police not registerd case against the culprits. However, the culprits threated to kill Buchamma and Maggidi Manga in the Jannaram police station in the presence of Police officials, but police did nothing about it. The victims Maggidi Buchamma and Maggidi Manga came to Hyderabad on 25th July 2017 and met with Home Minister of Telangana Naini Narshimha Reddy and submitted a petition for his intervention
Deepak Kumar, National President of Malamahanadu and Rajeshwar, President of Ambedkar Youth Association, Jannaram Mandal in Mancherial District. The home miniter called the police officials and asked to do the needful. But the culprits are politically and economically influential and earlier threatened to kill Maggidi Manga in the presence of police in Jannaram Police station.
What you can do: Call officials, sms or write email to SP and Collector of Mancherial District with Below message, change it according to the facts of the case if needed.
The Collector and Superintendent of Police Mancherial District, Telangana State, India
I came to know that two Dalit women Maggidi Buchamma 70 years and her daughter Maggidi Manga were beaten up and threatened to kill by the dominant caste men Baltha Rajamouli his son and Allam Ravi in Rendlaguda village, Jannaram Mandala in Mancherial District. When the women asked for their land documents back for which they were cheated of their land. Jannaram Local police joined the accused and threatened the victims to book a counter case on them. We urge you to provide security to both Dalit women and initiate legal action against the culprits. Also take necessary steps to get back the land to the victims.
Sri RV Karnan,District Collector, Phone Number – 09492120800 Email -firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Sri Jhon Wesley Deputy Commissioner of Police Phone Number – 09440795021 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Commissioner of Police – Mancherial – 09959337999
Circle Inspector of Police: 09440795047
Sub inspector of Police Jannaram – 09440795050
For more details please speak in Telugu with: Maggidi Manga, Daughter of Maggidi Buchamma – 07997563108
Rajeshwar, Ambedkar Youth Association, Jannaram – 09494455933
Deepak Kumar, National President, Mala Mahanadu, Hyderbad – 09291263009
15 June 2017, 03:52PM
On 14 June, over 80 Adivasis from four villages in Raigarh district came together at the district’s Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Welfare (Special) Police Station to lodge complaints against people they said were agents of two companies – Mahavir Energy Coal Beneficiation Limited (MECBL) and TRN Energy Private Limited a subsidiary of ACB (India) Power Limited, for unlawfully dispossessing them from their lands.
The complaint – Unlawful dispossession of Adivasi lands.
The Adivasis hoped to file FIRs (First Information Reports) against unlawful dispossession of hundreds of acres of their land through coercion and fraud. The complaints have been accepted. But the FIRs have not been registered. The police say they want to conduct a preliminary enquiry first.
Amnesty International India – along with civil society groups and the community on the ground – is campaigning #ForIndigenousRightsby urging the authorities to register FIRs and investigate the allegations.
For some time now, according to Adivasi villagers from four villages in Raigarh, agents allegedly acting on behalf of the two companies have resorted to threats, intimidation, coercion and misinformation, to force them off their land. Gram sabhas (village assemblies) in the affected villages have passed resolutions in 2015 and 2016 stating that their lands had been purchased through fraud and coercion. This in spite of Raigarh being notified as a ‘scheduled area’ under the Fifth Schedule of India’s Constitution, which has special safeguards around the transfer of Adivasi lands. These safeguards have been totally bypassed in these cases.
Several members of local communities in the villages of Khokhraaoma, Katangdi, Bhengari and Nawapara Tenda, narrate how they have been allegedly forced into selling their land to people acting as agents for the companies.
Karamsingh Rathia, an Adivasi from Katangdi village, says: “The company people came to me and asked to sell my land. I refused to sell, but a middleman said that since my land was in the middle of the proposed company site, I had to sell it. They frequently visited me and compelled me to sell. They also threatened our family… Now TRN has constructed a chimney there.”
Pavitri Manjhi, the sarpanch of Benghari village, says: “When the villagers refused to sell their land, the mediators said that the state government had already given the village to TRN. And if they did not sell their land, the company would occupy it and dump iron, ash and coal over it, and villagers would get nothing.”
Amnesty International India’s letter to TRN Energy (on 27 April) and MECBL (on 3 May) seeking their reply to the allegations of Adivasi communities met with no response.
WHAT THE LAW SAYS
The SC & ST (POA) Act (The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act) – a special law to protect the rights of Dalits and Adivasis – criminalizes the wrongful dispossession or interference with the lands of SCs and STs. In January 2016, Parliament passed an amendment to the Act, which states that “wrongfully” includes dispossession or interference done “against the person’s will”, “without the person’s consent”, or “with the person’s consent where such consent has been obtained by putting the person, or any other person in whom person is interested, in fear of death or hurt”. The POA obligates the police to register all complaints which allege violations of Adivasi rights.
On 9 May, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) directed action to be taken under the SC & ST (POA) Act in cases where Adivasi land was transferred to other people through forgery. The order followed recent allegations that over 300 acres (121 hectares) of Adivasi land had been unlawfully transferred to non-Adivasis in Kunkuni village, Raigarh between 2009 and 2015.
Under international human rights law and standards, states have an obligation to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent on decisions that affect them. This right is recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and also by UN treaty bodies interpreting the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, , to all of which India is a state party.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Join hands #ForIndigenousRights. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Displacement of Adivasis without their consent is a criminal offence. Urge the Chhattisgarh police to take immediate action by registering FIRs, and investigating the allegations.
Human rights forum: Urgent steps called to provide medical care with nutrition and clean drinking water in agency area of East Godavari district.
The Human Rights Forum (HRF) views with extreme concern the serious health crisis in the Agency area of East Godavari district. In what is reflective of the precarious situation, 16 adivasis from a single village – Chaparai of Boddagandi panchayat in Y Ramavaram mandal, located in the jurisdiction of the Rampachodavaram ITDA of the district – died over a period of three weeks (from the last week of May to June 22). All 16 belong to the Konda Reddy tribe classified as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG). Chaparai is an exclusively Konda Reddy village with a little over 300 residents.
A four-member HRF fact-finding team visited the Rampachodavaram Agency area including Chaparai on June 28, 29 and met doctors and medical personnel and local residents. We believe that most, if not all these deaths at Chaparai were due to falciparum malaria. In fact, our view is that there is a malarial epidemic sweeping the 5th Schedule region stretching from Paderu division in neighbouring Visakhapatnam district through the Rampachodavaram and Chintur Agency areas of East Godavari district. The government is seeking to obfuscate this reality by trying to pass off the Chaparai deaths as due to adivasis having eaten rotten meat at a marriage gathering and also because of consumption of contaminated water from a local hill stream. This is clearly not the case. A reprehensible attempt is also being made to portray the adivasis as being ignorant, superstitious and unwelcome of medical intervention. This narrative is being pushed to gloss over official failure.
Governmental infrastructure in the area is so poor that deaths at Chaparai only came to light on June 23 and were then played out prominently in the media. As usually happens, government personnel were rushed to the village and those down with fever and other medical ailments were admitted to the Rampachodavaram Area Hospital and the district hospital at Kakinada. Significantly, 24 of the 30 adivasis of Chaparai admitted at the Rampachodavaram hospital tested positive for malaria. This should have been a wake-up call to the government to at least then initiate anti-malarial steps, both short and long-term, in a meaningful and holistic manner. This did not happen and they, all the way from the Minister for Health to district health officials, continue to lie brazenly about the cause of deaths.
The adivasis have not had access to proper health and medical care. Even the minimum anti-malarial operations were not undertaken at Chaparai. The first round of alphacypermethrin (ACM) anti-larval spraying was to have taken place in April but happened only in the last week of May. There was also no distribution of mosquito nets, not just in Chaparai village but in all villages of the two panchayats of Boddagandi and neighbouring Kanivada. Five of the seven borewells in Chaparai are coughing up discoloured water that is unfit for consumption. Though the Konda Reddys had brought this to the notice of officials at the Janmabhoomi programme several months ago, nothing was done.
Shockingly, there is no community health worker (CHW, now being called accredited social health activist-ASHA) in the village since 2007! The absence of this frontline health worker, the basic health unit in the village, since over a decade is indicative of gross official neglect.
Moreover, there is no regular multi-person health assistant (female), also called ANM, for this area since May 24 when the existing ANM was transferred to Kutravada and additional charge was given to the Kanivada ANM. This ANM and the MPHA (male) are therefore heavily burdened since they have a jurisdiction of 24 villages in two panchayats in what is a hilly and difficult terrain. Pertinently, if there had been a CHW in the village or at least two fully functional ANMs and two MPHA (male), so many deaths could have been avoided. In fact, on the day the HRF team was at Chaparai, the government had still not appointed a regular ANM for Boddagandi panchayat!
Having failed on all these fronts, the government is consistently trying to play down the extent of the crisis, wilfully misrepresenting cause of the deaths and resorting to temporary adhoc measures. All that the administration seems to be doing is drawing up contingency plans and putting out statements of intent. Very little is being done on the ground.
This has happened in the past and has only resulted in adivasis succumbing to these preventable and treatable diseases with fatal regularity year after year. If the nature of the crisis is not even acknowledged then how can suitable preventive steps be taken up to ward off future outbreaks?
Clearly, the existing medical and health staff in the 5th Schedule region has to be doubled and personnel recruited on a permanent and not temporary or contractual basis. The salary of ASHAs has to be increased to Rs 6,000 per month and they must be given proper training and paid on a regular basis. Mosquito nets have to be supplied to all households immediately and all adivasi habitations must be provided with potable water. A permanent protected water facility has to be installed in Chaparai as was done in some of the villages that flanking the Maredumilli-Gurthedu road. These are preliminary steps. A lot more needs to be done to ensure food security for the adivasis.
It may be recalled that over 4,000 tribals died of falciparum malaria in Visakhapatnam Agency in the summer of 1999, over 2,500 of the same ailment in the summer of 2005 and well over a 1000 in 2011. The deaths were because of inefficient and insufficient medicare, lack of access to clean drinking water, malnutrition leading to enfeebled resistance to disease, poor protection from mosquito bite, atrocious public hygiene and pathetic health intervention by successive governments. The negligence of the State in its minimal administrative and welfare responsibilities was the proximate cause of these unconscionable deaths.
That neglect is still evident in the East Godavari Agency now. Urgent steps are called for to provide substantive medical care combined with nutrition and clean drinking water.
(HRF general secretary, AP&TS)
(HRF secretary, AP&TS)
Those who died at Chaparai:
1. Pallala Seemamma w/o Devireddy.
2. Pallala Chittamma w/o Tammireddy.
3. Pallala Kannmreddy s/o Tammireddy.
4. Pallala Komamma w/o Ramireddy.
5. Sadala Bujjibabu s/o Raghavareddy.
6. Kondla Vijaya Kumari d/o Abbayireddy.
7. Pallala Borramreddy s/o Lingareddy.
8. Bachchela Lakshmi d/o Bhumayya.
9. Pallala Tammireddy s/o Pandurreddy.
10. Pallala Ramcharan Reddy s/o Bobbilireddy.
11. Chedala Mottireddy s/ o Ramaiah or Ramireddy.
12. Pallala Chittamreddy s/o Ramireddy.
13. Andala Sanjeeva Reddy s/o Komati Reddy.
14. Pallala Ammamma w/o Mottireddy.
15. Pallala Somamma w/o Abbayireddy.
16. Pallala Lingareddy s/o Ramireddy.
Dalits, Muslims, Workers and farmers together shall judge the three years of Modi government and shall roar together again: “Gaay ki poonch tum rakho, hume hamari zameen do” (You keep the tail of your cow, give us our rightful land!)
The coming 11th of July would mark the first anniversary of the historic Una struggle. Last year on the 11th of July Vashram Sarvaiya, his brother Ramesh and their cousins Ashok and Bechar were mercilessly lynched in front of the police station by so called “gau-rakshaks” who then even uploaded this barbarity proudly on social media which shook the world.
In this one year, such atrocities on Dalits and instances of violence perpetrated in the name of “gau-raksha” has only multiplied manifold while the perpetrators roam free with impunity. Una, Dadri, Latehar, Alwar, Saharapur, Pratapgarh – are all witness to the trail of blood left by the RSS/BJP’s path towards a Hindu India.
In this context, the manner in which the Dalits of Gujarat brought the Muslims and various progressive/democratic together last year, it has registered itself as a milestone in the history of Dalit resistance in this country. The manner in which the Dalits left the carcasses of dead cattle in front of the DM’s office in Surendranagar district, it created ripples across the country as a symbol of resistance and resilience against saffron terror. And then on 31st July in Ahmedabad 20,000 Dalits came together to take an oath in front of Babasaheb Ambedkar that they will no more do the task of skinning dead animals and instead the government should help them break free from such inter-generational caste-determined labour and they should be provided 5 acres of land each. This was followed by the historic Dalit Asmita Yatra from Ahmedabad to Una where thousands participated and exposed the farce of Modi’s slogan of “sabka saath sabka vikas”.
This movement also provided much needed energy and hope to lakhs of youth and progressive forces across the country. Not only did Dalits of several villages give up skinning dead cattle, but also they took possession of 300 acres of land that had been redistributed 26 years back. Today it is this struggle of both dignity and existence that the Rashtiya Dalit Adhikar Manch is taking forward.
We believe that Dalits in their fight for self-respect and existence, should leave their traditional labour and instead focus on land, government jobs and alternative livelihood and should revitalize themselves to march ahead and organize themselves along with the survivors of Dadri, Alwar and Latehar to initiate the second phase of the historic Una March.
With this objective we are calling upon all Dalits, Muslims, Workers and the unemployed youth of this country to join us in a march – Azaadi Koonch – from Mahsana district of North Gujarat to Banaskhada district to fight against not just the casteist forces and the gau rakshaks, but also the institutionalised murder of workers and farmers and the destitution of thousands of unemployed youth.
At this juncture we would also like to remind one and all about the broken promises made by the then Chief Minister Anandiben Patel last year on her visit to Mota Samadhiyala village after the lynching of Dalits. In fact the casteist Gujarat government did not even bother to challenge the interim bail granted to the accused. The drama-king Narendra Modi who also hails from Gujarat on the one hand calls himself an “Ambedkar bhakt” while on the other hand inspires his puppet government in Gujarat to adopt the Nagpur model of granting life imprisonment for cattle slaughter. Is this the lesson that he has chosen to learn from Una, Saharanpur or Rohith Vemula’s murder?
In this country two Dalits are killed every day with them largely being the victims of mob violence too. But the rulers today find it urgent to enact laws for protection of cows and not against lynching of human beings. Hence as part of Azaadi Koonch we would demand an effective law to address mob lynchings like Dadri or Una so as to punish the perpetrators.
This Azadi Koonch in its last phase shall reach Banaskantha and Rapar Tehsil where landless Dalits have received redistributed land, but only on paper, and where their lands are under dominant caste-hold. So the government basically wants to keep the Dalits landless and thereby force them to continue with manual scavenging, sweeping and cleaning. When corporate are given land, the possession is ensured overnight if required by force. But when it comes to the Dalits and the landless, then we see that more than a lakh of hectares of redistributed land still remain on paper since last forty years with no actual possession in the hands of the Dalits. The Azaadi Koonch shall end with taking possession over this land where the tricoulour shall be unfurled. This is what we mean by our real Azaadi.
Since the fight for land is also the fight for self-respect and freedom from economic exploitation, the Azaadi Koonch would reiterate the principles of annihilation of caste and eradication of economic slavery. We will take all of this into account so as to broaden our consciousness and also broaden the very definition of freedom.
We expect all justice-loving democratic citizen shall come forward and join us to make the Azaadi Koonch a success.
– Jignesh Mevani, Coordinator, Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch
In the history of the world, Shahu Maharaj shines like the brightest stars in the galaxy who renounced everything for the welfare of suffering humanity. Shahu came to power when everything was in the flux in India. India was ruled by the British. They controlled 11 British Provinces and exercised indirect control over 500 princely states. The princes could micro-manage their empire, but the macro-management like defense and the external relationship was left to the British.
Shahu Maharaj was the prince of the Kolhapur state. Shahu Maharaj was trained to be a ruler by the British officials and seniors in his state. He studied many subjects, but also his theoretical training was supplemented by extensive field work. He traveled all over the places in India. He went abroad to study. He was trained as an able administrator and he worked very hard to be an able administrator. His life proved how one man can make a difference in the lives of many. He demonstrated how public policies can actually be worked out to remove contradictions in the society.
Shahu Maharaj experienced the Brahmin arrogance first hand in what is now famous as “Vedokta” episode. Shahu was not allowed to hear the recitation of “Vedas” because he was the Shudra according to Brahmins. Earlier in the history, Mahatma Jotiba Phule was insulted by the Brahmins and he launched the non-Brahmin movement. His movement gained strength and influenced the course of history by creating the true foundation of Indian nationhood. His movement was still fresh when Shahu came to the scene. Jotiba’s close friend, Dada Keluskar, the leader of the non-Brahmin movement was close to Shahu Maharaj as well.
Shahu Maharaj tried to keep the torch burning by fostering and supporting the movement started by Jotiba Phule.
Shahu became the staunch admirer of the non-Brahmin movement when he saw how his administration was dominated by the Brahmins. In his bid to create an equitable and efficient system of Governance, he initiated many policies, but the most significant were the policy of reservation. He reserved seats for the non-Brahmins in his administration. He also came up with the idea of reverse treatment to the Brahmins who dominated his administration and at times schemed against their own Maharaj. He created a negative list of those who were overly represented in the Government.
Perhaps, it is a time in India to think about “reverse” discrimination, in a sense that a “negative list” of those communities dominates every organ of the governance in India today. The communities which are listed in the “negative list” should be given representation according to their proportion of the population and the communities in the “positive list” must be advanced to various positions by creating the level playing field.
Shahu enacted other schemes that will benefit his people. The state of Kolhapur saw the advent of industries and growing economy under his reign. He built dams and markets for the economic growth, but he was not just interested in the economic growth, but his interest was primarily economic and human development. He started boarding schools for the untouchables and started special scholarships for the marginalized people. He also stressed on the education of the girls. His state policies were cleverly designed and meticulously executed.
But his greatest contribution came as the leader of the non-Brahmins. In the Mangaon conference held in 1920, Maharaj invited great leaders from all over India, including the great Buddhist monk, Bhante Bodhanand. And, young Bhim was given the prominent place in the conference. In his conference, the great Maharaj declared young Bhim the leader of the non-Brahmins and their future leader.
The friendship between Babasaheb Ambedkar and Shahu Maharaj is an example of how people should relate to each other as friends and colleagues.
The letters exchanged between them are moving testimony of the commitment to the cause bigger than one human life span. Babasaheb requested and Maharaj obliged. Maharaj requested and Babasaheb followed. Such was their friendship that when Maharaj died, Babasaheb was devastated. Maharaj supported every single initiative of Babasaheb Ambedkar. Maharaj gave funds for “MookNayak”, the first newspaper Babasaheb Ambedkar started. Maharaj gave a scholarship to Babasaheb to finish his education. When India was seeing the possibilities of electoral democracy in the 1930s, Maharaj was willing to support the politics of the non-Brahmins fully. He was committed to make a non-Brahmin movement an all India movement. Maharaj stood behind Babasaheb like the solid tower of strength.
Author – Mangesh Dahiwale, Human Rights Activist
Help us outlaw caste-based discrimination in Great Britain by completing the Public Consultation on Caste in Great Britain and Equality Law before 18 July 2017.
I am writing to help us outlaw caste-based discrimination in Great Britain by completing the Public Consultation on Caste in Great Britain and Equality Law before 18 July 2017.
Caste-based discrimination does exist here in Great Britain, acknowledged by both Parliament and the Government. It should be outlawed as any other form of discrimination.
The government needs to hear from residents of England, Scotland and Wales – of South Asian origins and others – as to how individuals and groups should be protected against discrimination on caste grounds. Legislation to outlaw caste-based discrimination in Great Britain would protect lives of an estimated half a million Dalits – and many more from the so-called lower castes – to live with dignity, mutual respect and without oppression, humiliation, and fear.
‘Caste in Great Britain and Equality Law’ consultation document and questionnaire contain complex legal words and terms. Caste in the UK collective does not want this to be a barrier to anyone wanting to respond to the survey. Several organisations, leading academics and committed individuals involved in securing legal protection against caste-based discrimination have, therefore, come together and created a website www.casteintheuk.org
The Guidelines in the website provide a list of useful suggestions and tips to filling in the survey questions. Caste in the UK collective encourages all residents of England, Scotland and Wales to take part in the Consultation and make sure that you ‘strongly agree’ to add caste to the Equality Act 2010 in Question 16.
Frequently Asked Questions section provides further information on the Consultation and Caste and the Law in Great Britain.
How can you make this Public Consultation successful?
Take part in the Consultation if you are a resident of England, Scotland and Wales
Go to www.casteintheuk.org that has most helpful tips to fill in the Public Consultation survey
Tweet and share this information on Facebook #casteintheuk @casteintheuk
Urge your friends and colleagues in Great Britain to take part in the Consultation
If you are journalist or a broadcaster – report about the Consultation in your media outlet
Please do not hesitate to contact the Collective at email@example.com if you need more information.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter hashtag and handle: #casteintheuk and @Casteintheuk
With best wishes
PS: Please spread the word through emails, social media including whatsapp. This campaign depends on people like you and their social networks.
Chhattisgarh must investigate allegations of dispossession of Adivasi land through coercion, cheating
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL INDIA
15 JUNE 2017
The Chhattisgarh police must conduct a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into allegations by over 80 Adivasi villagers in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh that they had been unlawfully dispossessed of their lands by people acting as agents for two private companies.
On 14 June, 81 Adivasi women and men tried to file First Information Reports at the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Welfare Special Police Station in Raigarh, alleging that they had been forced into selling their land – as a result of threats, intimidation, coercion and misinformation – to agents of TRN Energy and Mahavir Energy Coal Beneficiation Limited (MECBL), operating in collusion with local land registration officials. The police accepted the complaints, but refused to register First Information Reports and stated that they would first conduct a ‘preliminary enquiry’ to determine if a cognizable offence had been committed. Under India’s Code of Criminal Procedure, preliminary inquiry is required to be concluded within 15 days, or six weeks in exceptional situations.
“Adivasi villagers have a constitutional right to access to justice,” said Karthik Navayan, Programme Manager, Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International India. “The Chhattisgarh police cannot ignore their duty to investigate these allegations and prosecute those suspected of responsibility for human rights abuses. Given the scale of the alleged abuses, the police must also investigate whether these allegations provide evidence of a pattern of wrongful dispossession of land.”
Several members of local communities in the villages of Khokhraaoma, Katangdi, Bhengari and Nawapara Tenda, many of whom are not formally literate, told Amnesty International India that they had been forced into selling their land to people acting as agents for TRN Energy, a subsidiary of ACB India Power Limited, in 2009, 2010 and 2011. TRN Energy operates a 600 MW coal-fired thermal power plant in Khokhraooma.
Similarly, residents of the villages of Bhengari said they were forced to sell their land to agents for MECBL in 2004 and 2007. MECBL operates a 12 MW biomass power plant in Bengari. Gram sabhas (village assemblies) in the affected villages have passed resolutions in 2015 and 2016 stating that their lands had been purchased through fraud and coercion.
Pavitri Manjhi, the sarpanch of Benghari village, said, “When the villagers refused to sell their land, the mediators said that the state government had already given the village to TRN. And if they did not sell their land, the company would occupy it and dump iron, ash and coal over it, and villagers would get nothing.”
Karamsingh Rathia, an Adivasi man from Katangdi village, told Amnesty International India: “The company people came to me and asked to sell my land. I refused to sell, but a middleman said that since my land was in the middle of the proposed company site, I had to sell it. They frequently visited me and compelled me to sell. They also threatened our family. Now TRN has constructed a chimney there.”
Kalamati Rathia, an Adivasi woman from Benghari village, said: “I had two acres of farmland at village Bhengari which I got from my father. A middleman for Mahaveer frequently visited us and compelled us to sell our land. One day along with other villager, they took me to another person’s house where they took my signature and gave me 2000 rupees. We thought that the company had purchased our land, but the sale deed listed someone else’s name as a purchaser.”
Some villagers alleged that they had not been paid the amount mentioned in the sale deeds, or had been paid only part of it. Many said that their land had been sold at prices far below the market value. Some also said that they had been first told that only part of their land would be sold, but later found that all their land had been registered as sold. Some of the plots of land sold appear to currently be under the possession or use of TRN Energy and MECBL.
The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act (PoA Act) – a special law to protect the rights of Dalits and Adivasis – criminalizes the wrongful dispossession and interference with the lands of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. In January 2016, Parliament passed an amendment to the Act, which, among other things, inserted an explainer stating that the word “wrongfully” included dispossession or interference done “without the person’s consent”, or “with the person’s consent where such consent has been obtained by putting the person…in fear of death or hurt”.
On 9 May, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes directed action to be taken under the PoA Act in cases where Adivasi land was transferred to other people through forgery. The order followed recent allegations that over 300 acres (121 hectares) of Adivasi land had been unlawfully transferred to non-Adivasis in Kunkuni village, Raigarh between 2009 and 2015.
Amnesty international India wrote to TRN Energy on 27 April and to MECBL on 3 May seeking their response to the allegations of Adivasi communities. The companies have not responded to date.
Under international human rights law and standards, states have an obligation to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent on decisions that affect them. This right is recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and also by UN treaty bodies interpreting the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, to all of which India is a state party.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights state that businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights, and reiterate that states have an obligation to protect against human rights abuses by business enterprises, including by taking appropriate steps to investigate, punish and redress such abuse.