Since 2009, multiple tehsils and villages in Raigarh District of Chhattisgarh have been battling against illegal and deceitful land acquisition mediated by middlemen for big power companies. While Benghari, Khokhraoma, Katangdi and Nawapara Tenda in Ghargoda tehsil have been frequently reported in National and International Media, villages in Kharsia, Dharamjaigarh and Tamnar tehsil (all in Raigarh District) have witnessed similar incidents. Threats by local mafia, deceitful contracts, forgeries, forced waste dumping and even murder have been alleged against village middlemen and companies like Saptarishi Infra Tech Estate.
In Ghargoda tehsil, about 100 farmers have lost over 680 acres of land between 2012 and 2017 to two companies TRN Energy and Mahavir Coal. Some were threatened to sign blank papers, while others were duped into signing.
In Tamnar tehsil, hundreds of residents from 14 villages have reported cases which could fall under Section 170 (B). In Kunkuni of Kharsia tehsil, more than 300 acres of land has been transferred by forgery. The Press Information Bureau of India reported that Jailal Raithiya, the man who brought to light these forgeries, died under mysterious circumstances. Despite signs of a possible poisoning, his body was cremated without a postmortem.
In June 2017 a group of 8090 farmers from Ghargoda tehsil filed complaints against the two companies at the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Welfare (Special) Police Station under Sections 170 (1 and 2). However, police decided to do preliminary investigations before filing FIRs. The Adivasis believe that their reports were not taken seriously by the police. A member of PUCL claims that over 140 such cases have been filed by them in Ghargoda in just the past year. However, even the 15 that had favorable outcomes out of them have been appealed to the District Collector by the companies. Lawyers and activists report that everyone in Raigarh has a similar story to tell.
It is impossible to reach an accurate figure of the number of total land grabs in Raigarh, but Naiduniya puts it at 580 based on police reports. In just the four villages of Ghargoda Tehsil which filed the most recent complaint this year, around 900 acres of land has been acquired by private firms according to Amnesty International. The overall figure in Raigarh is reported by Naidunia to be over 2000 acres.
The outcome of the legal battle remains to be seen. However, despite the flurry of protests and complaints since 2012, there has been little progress for the Adivasis of Raigarh.