On the occasion of the death anniversary of Bhagat Singh, the All India Union of Forest Working People has given a call for a rally from Robertsganj to Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh. Adivasis and Forest Workers who have been deprived of rights to the forests are expected to participate in the rally.
The new Forest Rights Act that came into effect in 2006 rights the wrongs of the earlier Indian Forests Act that was enacted by the British to take away forest land from tribal communities that engaged in community farming and depended on forest produce for their livelihood. The 2006 Act gives Adivasis the right to file claims to such forest resources and lands.
However, the provisions on the act have not been implemented properly and corrupt administrators, police and forest officials often target forest workers. They allegedly either demand hefty bribes to process claims or throw Adivasis in prison after leveling false and fabricated cases against them. Many women have also been targeted this way and some have also been physically and sexually assaulted for asserting their rights.
One of the key demands of the rally is to simplify the process of filing claims, including the documentation required. The Adivasis also want proper maps of all areas and natural resources therein that will henceforth be available to communities under each Gram Sabha. These resources include forests, ponds, lakes, mountains, hills, rivers etc. They also want all false cases against them to be scrapped immediately.
The rally that will be held on March 23, will begin at Dandit Baba Maidan in Robertsganj at 11am will end at Lodhi District Headquarters in Sonbhadra.