Gond Adivasis in UP’s Sonbhadra district Fight for Land Rights

Reported by

Eleonora Fanari

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

October 25, 2016

October 25, 2016

Updated on

October 25, 2016

Location of Conflict

Darma

Sonbhadra

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Forest Administration (Other than Protected Areas)

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

4000

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

0

ha

Starting Year

2004

State

Uttar Pradesh

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh is notorious for frequent dispossession of tribal communities- who, along with Scheduled Castes, make up 40% of its population. Since 2004, the district Administration along with the Forest Department of Government of UP have been conducting Land Reclamation procedures. Land reclamation refers to a process where there is forceful clearing of forestland, which historically and customarily belonged to the community. District Administration in collusion with revenue and land Department and influential individuals have been manufacturing land records over common land in the latter’s favour in Sonbhadra.
In 2004, the women of Darma village tilled some 200 hectares overnight to claim their land. Darma is in the foothills of the Vindhyas, near Kaimur, a village of tribals. Over the years, people have reclaimed more than 8,000 hectares of forestland in Kaimur region under the banner of Kaimur Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisaan Sangharsh Samiti. They challenge the historical injustice of land distribution and the control of land mafia on large tracts of forestland in the region. In 2006, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, (Recognition of Forest rights) was passed which ensures land rights of traditional forest-dwellers on disputed forestland. All India Union of Forest Working People is spearheading the tribals cause using the slogan "Jo zameen sarkari hai, woh zameen hamari hai".
Many women have become the strong voices of the struggle. Women like Lalti Devi Paswan and Shoba Bharti have been fighting for land rights under the Forest Rights act. For this, on several occasions, they have been jailed. This is also evident in Kaimur region of the Sonbhadra district. In 2011, the tribal community members of Kaimur protested against the Forest department funded by Japan based company JICA's Plantation drive. "The JICA project is being imposed to obstruct the implementation of FRA, that gives community land rights to forest people", according to Roma Malik from All India union of Forest working people, .
In 2011, a Plantation drive was started by women to assert their community rights over forest. A massive rally was taken out by tribal women on 4th July 2011 to assert their community rights over forest. Dressed in Red and green sarees each one of them had brought sapling, while they traveled to Robertsganj, head quarter of Sonbhadra District, to plant the sampling outside the office of Depute district Collector. The plantation was done with lot of enthusiasm, as a festival with beautiful songs sung by women. The message behind the protest was that forest people will reassert their rights over forest and will not allow any company, Forest department and others to take over their forest. Women have also challenged the State that if their community rights are not recognized than they will themselves draw maps and identify their boundaries of forest land to take over the possession from Forest Department.
In July 2019, the historical and continued non-recognition of customary tribal rights in common lands led to 10 Gond tribals being killed and 28 injured by the village pradhan, Yagya Dutt, and his associates of the upper case Gujjar community. The land in dispute was of about 130 bighas in Umbha village where the Gond community had been cultivating the lands for multiple generations but with no legal title. However, since 1955, the ownership of the land has been recorded on paper in favour of the local district magistrate, then to a shell company Adarsh Cooperative Society and then back to a local officer. According to a report, the relevant revenue records were recorded under the name of Yagya Dutt in 2017 after ostensibly purchasing the land from an IAS officer who owned the land. The sale transaction is claimed to be illegal by the Gond tribals who have filed a civil case. The massacre was reportedly planned, as over two dozen armed people were specially brought in from Jharkhand and Bihar to take possession of the land. As of now, the charge sheet for the killings has been filed on October 14, 2019 and names Dutt and his associates as accused. Despite nationwide attention to these murders, no effort has been made to recognize traditional land rights of tribal.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Dispossession of land

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest, Non-Forest (Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
Section 3(v) (Punishment for offences of atrocities - wrongfully dispossesses a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe from his land or premises or interferes with the enjoyment of his rights over any land, premises or water);
Indian Forest Act, 1927
Section 20 (Notification declaring forest reserved - since land of certain communities became ‘disputed’, they were converted into reserve forest) 
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 3(a) (Forest rights of Forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers - right to hold and live in the forest land under the individual or common occupation for habitation or for self-cultivation for livelihood by a member or members of a forest dwelling Scheduled Tribe or other traditional forest dwellers); Section 3(e) (rights including community tenures of habitat and habitation for primitive tribal groups and preagricultural communities)
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  5. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  7. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation/violation of FRA

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Disposed

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Allahabad High Court

Case Number

WRIT - C No. - 28242 of 2006

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Certain land that had been declared as reserved forest under Section 20, Forest Act, 1927. However, two plots in there had been allegedly illegally diverted and recorded as land belonging to upper caste persons. This was being challenged by the State Government. The court held that the upper caste persons were misusing law, and held that they must be evicted and land must be restored as reserved forest.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Killing

Torture

Sexual violence/sexual harassment

Arrest/detention/imprisonment

Blackmail/threats/intimidation

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

In July 2019, 10 members of Gond Community were murdered by village Pradhan

Date of Violation

July 16, 2019

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Blockades

Campaigns (grassroots organisations/press releases/media)

Development of a network or collective

Land occupation

Strikes

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

District Administration of Sonbhadra, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Department, Government of UP

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Tribals

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

Image Credit:  

Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

Text LinkLand Conflict Watch
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