Police, Forest Department Assault Baiga Community in Chhattisgarh, 150 Households Evicted

Reported by

Deepika JoshiLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

November 25, 2020

Location of Conflict

Nagadabra and Tandidahra villages in Pandariya Block

,

Kabirdham

This is a Left Wing Extremism Affected District

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Forest Administration (Other than Protected Areas)

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

720

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

121

ha

State

Chhattisgarh

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

In 2016, the Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) of Kodwagodan and Mathpur panchayats, in collusion with the state forest department, destroyed crops and fenced agricultural land in Nagadabra village, located in Pandariya block. The forest department also took away grazing animals of the farmers and returned them only after being bribed. From 2017 to 2019, multiple incidents of violence took place in Nagadabra when the police teamed up with the forest and revenue departments and destroyed houses and beat up people. The authorities claim that the Nagadabra residents have settled on land for which they do not have title deeds. The residents, on the other hand, refute this allegation. Faglu Baiga, the village head and one of the first persons to migrate from the hills to settle in Nagadabra, showed LCW his land deeds/patta to prove his ownership. However, he adds that the situation is complicated as the people have been given land deeds for plots adjacent to the land where they reside, creating confusion over ownership. Violence also broke out in the new hamlet of Tandidahra adjacent to Nagadabra. After the monsoons in 2016, about 75 families from the Baiga community settled in Tandidahra after receiving written permission from the sub divisional magistrate, hoping to eventually get title deeds for the land. This settlement was also attacked thrice from 2017 to 2019 by the JFMC of Kodwagodan and Mathpur panchayats, forest department, revenue department and the police. The residents were assaulted, newly made huts were burnt, water sources were destroyed, land was bulldozed and agricultural equipment and mobile phones confiscated. In July 2018, the villagers were evicted - the authorities forcefully corralled them and their cattle into trucks and dropped them off in a faraway village. At least 150 households (75 each in Nagadabra and Tandidahra) have been affected by the crackdown by the administration. Almost all of these families are from the Baiga tribe, listed as PVTG (particularly vulnerable tribal group). When the villagers and local activists protested against the violence, they were assaulted and beaten up by the police. Various complaints were also lodged at the block, district and state levels over the years. But no significant action has been taken, except for a report sent by the State SC/ST Commission in 2017 to various district authorities after conducting an inquiry, in which it asked the district authorities to resolve the issue after discussing with the communities and to provide land to the families instead of evicting them. The protesters too have demanded a stop to the violence by the forest, revenue and police departments, resolution of confusion over pattas for adjacent plots of land in Nagadabra and resettlement of the 75 families from Tandidahra. They have not taken any legal recourse yet. On September 17, 2020, the state authorities again destroyed standing crops grown by farmers in Nagadabra and let animals loose on the fields. The villagers have submitted written complaints to the district collector, police and the forest department. "We grow crops in the hope that we will earn our own food and yet they are destroyed," one of the residents told LCW. They are now trying to file a public interest litigation in the Chhattisgarh High Court. Meanwhile, the households that were trying to settle in Tandidahra have moved back to their native villages of Birhuldeeh, Fifdi and Karhalu in the hills, to name a few, for fear of violence by state authorities and neighbouring panchayats, although they have not abandoned their claim on the land.

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

121

ha

Starting Year

2002

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Forest Department, Revenue Department

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

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