We are shocked and appalled by the Supreme Court order dated 20/2/2019 for eviction of Adivasis and other Traditional Forest dwellers from their Traditional habitats, thus depriving them their right to life and livelihood guaranteed by Article 21 enshrined in Indian constitution. We unequivocally appeal to the Supreme Court to reevaluate this retrograde anti people order which will throw Millions of Adivasis and other traditional Forest Dwellers into the streets., which is against all humanitarian precepts, Natural Justice, the spirit of the Indian constitution and various covenants and declarations of the united Nations charter on the Rights of the Indigenous people. The Supreme Court gave this order on a petition filed by Wild life First which is an extremely callous anti people, regressive conservationist NGO.
It should be noted that the Adivasis and other Traditional Forest Dwellers have been co existing with wild animals since millennia in a mutually cooperative symphony and harmony. It is a sheer travesty of truth and historical inustice to blame the Adivasis and other Traditional Forest Dwellers for destroying the eco system and wild life. One should clearly see the nefarious game plan of this anti people wild Life NGO Acting on behalf of the corporate sector and other vested interests to handover the forest land to the corporate sector for commercial exploitation. Already the sword of Damocles is hanging over forests and forest dwellers by the new draft Forest Policy and CAF Act, with a clear cut intention to handover the forest lands to the corporate Sector.
It is quite outrageous that the Government of India which is elected by the people to safeguard their interests did not appear or argue in different hearings of this case before this anti Adivasi order was past.
This is not only a serious dereliction of Constitutional duty of the Central Government but also a conspiracy of complicity to handover the forest lands to the corporate sector. The court order violates Section 6 of the Forest Rights Act which says It is a Criminal Offence not to process the claims of Adivasis and other Traditional Forest Dwellers for their rights to the Forest land Under the Forest Rights Act 2006..
The Supreme Court has asked the Chief Secretaries of 16 State Governments including Karnataka to evict the Adivasis and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers whose claims were rejected by the respective Forest Departments. In Karnataka a Total of 2, 27,014 claims were filled Under Forest Rights Act from this 35,521 claims of Adivasis and 1, 41,019 claims of Other Forest Dwellers were rejected.
We hereby wish to firmly state that the claims of forest Lands under the Forest Rights Act is neither a gift nor an act of charity by the Government of India. This Act was a necessary course correction of the Historical Injustice meted out to the Adivasis under the Draconian provisions of the Indian Forest Act and The Wild life Protection Act. We strongly emphasize that the enactment of the Forest Rights Act was not a result of the magnanimity of the central Government, but was the result of years of arduous struggle by millions of Adivasis. It should also be remembered that historically, Adivasis constitute as a key force in conserving India’s forests, rather than destroying it. The forests in India can not be protected without recognising this key role of the Adivasis. The Forest Rights Act rightly recognises this key role and therefore, we remind the Supreme Court not to violate it.
We earnestly appeal to the mass organizations of the Adivasis, political parties and other progressive and democratic forces to express your deep reservations against this anti people Supreme Court order which violates our right to life guaranteed by Article 21 of Constitution of India.
We would also appeal to you to take these concerns of the rights of the Adivasis within all sections of the civil society, media, activist organisations and the concerned individuals within political parties.
V.S.Roy David, National Convener, National Adivasi Alliance (NAA)
J.P.Raju, President Budakattu Krishikara Sangha (BKS)