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Dalits complain of forced eviction after houses set on fire in Jharkhand

The residents of the three hamlets agree that they were there illegally.

They said people from neighbouring villages attacked them with support from forest officials. (Source: Express photo) They said people from neighbouring villages attacked them with support from forest officials. (Source: Express photo)

Landless dalits of three hamlets of Chainpur block of Palamu district alleged that the Yadavs of neighbouring villages have been attacking them with the tacit support of the Forest Department to push them out of their places of residence.

As a result of sustained attacks, two hamlets — of less than 10 to 20 houses — have emptied over the past year while eight houses of a third, which has about 30 residences in all, was set on fire Monday.

The residents of Anharidodha claim they recognised five of the Jhaler Protected Forests’ Village Forest Management and Protection Committee in the attackers. “I recognised Munna Yadav, his brother and three others even though their faces were covered. I used to hang out with them, after all,” said Akhi Bhuiyan. When he shouted out their identities, the men attacked his family, he said.

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The residents of the three hamlets agree that they were there illegally — they had moved in from nearby villages over the past 10 years or so. “We never had land in our ancestral village to begin with. As our families grew, it became impossible to stay in the same tiny plot together. We began moving here and cleared the forests,” said Vijay Majhi, one of the community leaders of Anharidodha.

Lallan Ram, who was a resident of Mahuadod hamlet for nearly six years, said that the members of the Village Forest Committee used to accuse him and fellow residents of trying to encroach upon their grazing land.

Kavita Devi, another resident, said the residents of the nearby villages would raid their hamlet often. “They defecated in our well, they set fire to our houses and beat us up each time they came to the village,” she said.

According to her, the Yadavs led the mob while the Mundas supported them: she too, identified members of the Jhaler Forest Committee as the perpetrators. Mahuadod became empty by the end of 2013.

First published on: 10-04-2015 at 03:48:52 am
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