The Yogi government has been holding meetings and announcements to woo Dalits in different divisions of Uttar Pradesh for the last several months. Recently, on November 3, Yogi Adityanath, while addressing the Scheduled Castes Conference in Gorakhpur, announced that the Uttar Pradesh government will give land pattas to 1.25 crore Dalits in the state by December. His promise appears to be only an election promise. This is the same Gorakhpur where, on October 10 last month, the peaceful protest by Dalit women at the Commissioner’s office demanding one acre of land was declared illegal and 13 people were booked under grievous sections and sent to jail, in which I was also included. Apart from me, among the 9 people arrested were dharna coordinator Shravan Kumar Nirala, journalist Siddharth Ramu and 5 YouTubers from Delhi. In the Case filed against us in Police Station Cantt on 11th October, crime number 717/2023, Section 147/188/342/332/353/504/506/120 B/IPC, Section 7 Criminal Law Amendment Act and Section 3 Prevention of Public Property, A case was registered under the Act and 138 Electricity Act in which 13 people were named and 10-15 were made unknown accused. In this we were accused of holding a meeting without permission, violating Section 144, obstructing the work of a government employee, causing hurt and threatening, damaging government property, conspiracy and stealing electricity. Not only this, later we were also falsely accused of an offence under Section 307 IPC (attempt to murder) so that we could not get bail and could be sent to jail. It is noteworthy that the complainant had not made any mention of strangulation in the first information but the crime against us was made non-bailable and we were sent to jail. In the jail, we were treated as criminals instead of political prisoners and we were kept in barracks with ordinary criminals. Finally, after three weeks we were released on bail and came out of jail. From this incident itself you can imagine how dedicated the Yogi government is to giving land lease to Dalits.
Not only this, if you look at the record of the last 6 years of the Yogi government, you will find that the Yogi government has been the most anti-Dalit government in comparison to all the governments till now. During this period, there were more atrocities on Dalits, Hathras incident and Ubha incident. Its record of allotment of land to Dalits has been very bad. The facts show that till now the Yogi government, instead of allotting land to the Dalits, has only snatched the land from them, as is clear from the following details: –
1. Eviction of Dalits and tribals from their land
It is well known that BJP had written in its manifesto in the 2017 assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh that if its government is formed then all the illegal occupation of land (Gram Sabha and forest land) will be vacated. After forming the government in March 2017, the Yogi government immediately started acting on this and in compliance with this, those people who were in possession of the land but did not have the lease (Patta) in their name, started being evicted from the village community land (Gram Samaj Land) and forest land. Most of the people in this were Dalits and Tribals. According to this order, 74,701 rejected forest rights claimants from 13 districts were also to be evicted. When the Yogi government started the eviction proceedings, our party All India People’s Front protested it in the Allahabad High Court requesting to stop the eviction proceedings and re-examine all the claims. On our request, the Allahabad High Court gave one month’s time to stay the eviction proceedings, all the claimants to file the missed claims and appeal on the old claims and the government to rehear all the claims within three months and dispose of them. But even after the completion of the said period, no action was taken by the government in this regard, which shows the love for Dalits of the Yogi government.
A few years ago, the validity of the Forest Rights Act was challenged in the Supreme Court by the Wildlife Trust of India and a request was made to order all the state governments to vacate the land related to the rejected claims under the Forest Rights Act. The Modi government did not present the side of Tribals/Forest Dwellers in the Supreme Court. As a result, the Supreme Court, on February 2, 2019, unilaterally passed an order to vacate the land of all rejected Forest Rights Act claims by July 24, 2019. The number of families affected by this in the entire country was 20 lakhs, of which 74,701 families are from Uttar Pradesh. Against this order, we again appealed to the Supreme Court through Adivasi Vanvasi Mahasabha in which we requested to stay the eviction order and direct all the states to re-examine all the claims. On this, the Supreme Court accepted our request and ordered a stay on eviction till July 10, 2019 and re-hearing of all the claims to all the states, but after 4 years, no significant action has been taken on this. As a result, the sword of eviction is hanging over lakhs of Dalits, tribals and forest dwellers.
2. Order for sale of land of Dalits without the permission of the District Magistrate
The Yogi government of Uttar Pradesh has changed the rules related to the purchase and sale of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe land. Now there will be no need to take permission from the DM of the district before purchasing SC/ST land. The UP government has also made major changes in the rules related to townships. Earlier, according to the SC/ST Land Act, only a person belonging to the SC/ST category could purchase the land of a person belonging to the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe. Non-Dalits had to take permission from the District Magistrate for this. But now the UP government has amended it. People will now be able to buy SC/ST land without DM’s permission. Due to this, it has become easier for the powerful to take land by intimidation or coaxing.
3. The rate of atrocities on Dalits in Uttar Pradesh is higher than the national rate.
Crime statistics for the year 2020 issued by NCRB show that the rate of cases of atrocities on Dalits in Uttar Pradesh is much higher than the crime rate at the national level. It is known that the population of Dalits in Uttar Pradesh is 21% of the total population of the state, whereas the crime of atrocities against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh is 30.7 as compared to national rate (per 1 lakh population) of 25.4. Thus, the total crime committed against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh is 25.3% of the total crime committed against Dalits at the national level, that is, one fourth of the crimes committed against Dalits in the country.
Analysis of the data of atrocities/crimes against Dalits clearly shows that the percentage and rate of crimes against Dalits and Dalit women in Uttar Pradesh is much higher than the crimes and rate against Dalits at the national level. With this, the Yogi government’s claim of controlling crime becomes false. It is also known that government statistics do not present the correct picture because many victims of crimes either do not go to the police station or even if they go, the crimes are not registered. The anti-Dalit attitude of the police also comes in the way of this. But despite this, the figures published by the government show the pathetic condition of Dalits in Uttar Pradesh and is proof of the Yogi government being anti-Dalit.
The biggest example of Yogi government’s sensitivity towards Dalits is the burning of a Dalit girl who was a rape victim in Hathras at night without the permission of her family.
Similarly, the biggest example of the sensitivity of the Yogi government towards the Tribals is the killing of 10 tribals by the bullies in Ubha village of Sonbhadra district to usurp their land with the connivance of the administration.
It is clear from the above details that Yogi’s announcement of distributing 1.25 crore pattas by December is just an illusion and a statement in the face of the upcoming elections. But Dalits and Tribals are not going to fall prey to this deception. The movement they have started demanding land allotment is not going to stop and will soon become widespread. All India Peoples Front is trying to contact the organizations and parties associated with this movement and bring them on one platform. All India Peoples Front has always given land reforms and land allocation a prominent place in its agenda and has fought for it in court and on the ground. Our party has also obtained orders by filing public interest litigations in the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court for the proper implementation of the Forest Rights Act in Uttar Pradesh. Therefore, AIPF calls upon all Dalit/Tribal friendly organizations and Dalit/non-Dalit political parties to come together on one platform to include land reforms and land allotment in the agenda of all political parties in the 2024 elections
S R Darapuri, National President, All India Peoples Front