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Wednesday, December 02, 2020

108 tribal villages to boycott Bihar polls over ‘police crackdown’

The protests were led by Kaimur Mukti Morcha (KMM), which alleged that 25 activists from the area were arrested on false charges.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: October 24, 2020 12:55:01 pm
bihar assembly elections 2020, Kaimur, Kaimur adivasis protest, kaimur police crackdown, 108 villages to boycott polls, bihar police, indian express The villagers accused the Forest Depertemt of forceful evictions and bulldozing of crops, despite a Supreme Court stay on evictions. (File/Representational)

One hundred and eight tribal villages of the Kaimur plateau in Bihar, have declared a boycott of the state’s assembly elections which begins later this month. The villagers will be boycotting the elections to mark their anger against the state administration after a crackdown on the tribal population in the area by the Bihar police last month, when they had been peacefully protesting the declaration of the area as a Tiger Wildlife Reserve, among other demands.

The tribal residents of the area have alleged that there have been consistent forceful evictions and bulldozing of crops by forest department officials, despite an earlier stay order on the evictions by the Supreme Court. The protests have been led by the Kaimur Mukti Morcha, who have in turn alleged that 29 tribal activists and leaders from the area have false FIRs filed against them on “trumped up charges’’. Seven of the protestors had been arrested and released on bail on October 16.

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A four-member fact-finding committee report was released today by CPM Politburo member Brinda Karat. “In this specific instance, there has been criminal negligence by the Bihar government under Nitish Kumar that has not implemented the Forest Rights Act at all – that too in this area where the two blocks have over 50 per cent tribal population. Not a single Adivasi in the area has been given a patta – out of the 8,000 land claims filed by tribals, only 121 were approved by the state administration,” Karat told The Indian Express.

The four-member Delhi-based fact-finding team consisted of Amir Sherwani Khan (All India Union of Forest Working People), Matadayal (All India Union of Forest Working People), Raja Rabbi Hussain (Delhi Solidarity Group) and Aman Khan, an advocate from the Supreme Court.

According to the report, on September 10, 2020, thousands of adivasis, including women, men, youths and children from 108 villages of Adhaura Block mobilised themselves in front of the forest department office at Adhaura. Despite the protest’s peaceful nature, police officials “unleashed a crackdown,’ in which seven activists were not just fired upon and lathi-charged but were also picked up by the police. On October 16, all seven were released on bail.

The report alleged that Prabhu, an adivasi from Chaphana village, was shot at.

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