By Archana Sharma
Jaipur: A Supreme Court recent order on the time-bound eviction of tribals and other households living in forests, whose claims have been rejected by the authorities under the Forest Rights Act, has triggered a huge furore in Rajasthan’s tribal belt.
Over 5,000 workers of the Bheel Tribal Party (BTP) that has just debuted in the Rajasthan assembly, along with tribals from Udaipur and other surrounding aeas, have decided to march to parliament on March 2 to register their protest against the eviction oder, Amit Kharadi Girva, a BTP leader from Udaipur, said on Monday.
Ramprasad Dindore from Sangwada, one of the two BTP MLAs in the assembly, also strongly criticised the Supreme Court decision and said that tribals will fight for their rights till the end, no matter what the consequences are. The decision would affect lakhs of families residing in the country’s forest areas, he added.
The Supreme Court has directed 16 state governments to evict around one million Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers (OTFD) as their claims for the right to live in forests have been rejected under the Forest Rights Act. The court has directed that the evictions be carried out by July 12.
In Rajasthan, 13,49,586 families will be affected by the order, Girva pointed out.
He said BTP workers called a meeting in Udaipur on Sunday and decided to court arrest in the national capital after gheraoing (picketing) parliament. The protesters will leave Udaipur for New Delhi on March 1, he said.
In fact, the number may swell beyond 5,000 “as we are getting confirmation by youths from other zones as well including Bali tehsil, Sirohi and other parts”, he added.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan Forest Minister Sukhram Vishnoi expressed his “total unawareness” of the court order as he was travelling and had not been updated. “I shall study the developments and then will be able to reply on them,” he added.
Another BTP leader, B.L. Chhaanwal lambasted at the ruling Congress government for sitting silent on the development.
“Yeh log keval raaz karne ke like aate hain. (They come to rule). And when the time comes to prove their promises to the tribals, they express their ignorance on all major developments,” he added.
Proclaiming that the tribals are quite aggrieved, he said: “We can’t leave our forest land just for the sake of this order. As the authorities concerned can’t force us at knifepoint to evade our jal, zameen and jungle (water, land, jungle), they are threatening us by saying that we will be deprived of MNREGA benefits, medical benefits and so on.”