November 14, 2023
Madhya Pradesh, a state with the largest tribal population, records highest atrocities against #ScheduledTribes in India.
This election season, researcher @Priyansha_C travelled to Burhanpur and Khandwa districts that reported a spurt in such atrocities.
One in five people in MP belong to the 46 recognised tribes, STs account for over 10 million voters. Burhanpur, a district in southern MP, has seen false FIRs, detentions and district banishments of tribals and activists, escalate in the recent past
Many tribals bear the brunt of harassment and atrocities by the administration. This happened right after the tribes in two districts protested against deforestation of over 15,000 acres and over 10,000 pending forest rights claims.
Reports also suggest that despite the claims of digitised and transparent mode of forest claim resolution, the rejection of rights claims has increased steadily. https://indiaspend.com/land-rights/how-mp-govts-vanmitra-portal-threatens-tribal-rights-over-forest-land-880848…
This leaves the already vulnerable tribal communities at the whims and fancies of the forest department. There has been a sharp increase in the atrocities and rift with the tribes- resulting in rise of FIRs, detention and targeting of activists and leaders.
Antaram Awase, a tribal leader and activist, was served with a district banishment notice on October 30. Accused of encroachment, forest destruction, and inciting deforestation, he grapples with FIRs dating back six months to five years.
Madhuri Krishnswamy, a member of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS) which works with tribal communities, faces district banishment on the charges of deforestation and inciting tribals for encroachment.
Nitin Varghese, another member of JADS, was also detained and implicated in July, for inciting violence against public servant and obstructing arrest for incidents dating back to March.
The district administration blames lack of training, resources and weapons in tackling the mass deforestation, which reportedly lasted for over 6 months.
n March, over 40 tribals were detained for two months. This was after a clash between forest officials and tribals, after the former arrested four of one household in the late hours. Their crime: cultivating forestland.
A report by the @CPAProjectIndia reveals that people from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Denotified Tribes, and Other Backward Classes formed 66.6% of wildlife and sand mining accusations. This raises concerns of misuse of forest laws.
Laws like Indian Forest Act and Wildlife Protection Act are used by the forest department to criminalise tribals, where nearly 78% of the accused are from marginalised communities. The government also amended these Acts by increasing and prescribing minimum punishments.