Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Politics Dalit Bahujan Adivasi

Forest dwellers to elect village heads for first time in UP

The Vantangiya tribe lives in dense forest areas of Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Gonda and Balrampur in Eastern UP

Sabrangindia 15 Apr 2021

Image Courtesy:newindianexpress.com

Members of the Vantangiya tribe, the forest dwellers who live in Gorakhpur and adjoining districts, will for the first time since Independence participate in the panchayat elections on April 15. The tribes folk will exercise their right to vote and elect their own village head in the first-phase voting for Uttar Pradesh panchayat polls. The Gorakhpur Vantangiya villages will vote in the first phase when over 3,500 of tribal voters will choose their own gram pradhan, according to a report in the New Indian Express.

Gorakhpur district has five Vantangiya villages, the adjoining Maharajganj has 18 and Gonda and Balrampur have five each. These areas became revenue villages in 2017. The report quotes social activist Manoj Singh who says these elections will result in the “real empowerment,” of the tribes.

The villagers had voted for the first time in the 2019 general election, but it is the panchayat polls that will have a direct impact as they will choose a leader who is one of them, and who hopefully will be able to relate to their daily concerns and help solve  problems.

According to a 2019 feature in Down to Earth magazine, Vantangiyas have been settled in pockets of eastern Uttar Pradesh for a century, but didn’t have voting rights till the 1990s. They are said to be the one who turned barren lands into forests, however, as is the case elsewhere with other forest dwellers, they too did not have a right over forest produce and continued to lead impoverished lives. According to the report there are about 60,000 Vantangiyas living in Gorakhpur and Maharajgunj districts.

Who are the Vantangiyas and what is their story?

SanbrangIndia’s detailed news feature on the tribe had shown how their history can in fact be traced to when the British were expanding rail lines zeroed in onto the forest of Deori, Nainital, Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Kheeri, Bahraich, Balrampur Maharajganj, Gorakhpur and more in Uttar Pradesh. After passing the Awadh Forest Rules, the British cunningly captured the forests of Bahraich in 1861, and in 1885, they brought in the forest department to control the forest produce. For this, four ranges of Motipur, Chakia, Charda and Bhinga were at breakneck speed in the whole country. To lay a kilometre of a rail line, 60 Sakhu trees had to be sacrificed for their strength. The wood was used to lay sleepers below the railway line and the demand for the wood increased. The Forest officers in the newly minted forest department chopped down many Sakhu forests in the region. The feature on the origins and history of the Vantangiyas may be read here.

Related:

Allahabad HC has not ordered evictions of Surma villagers of Dudhwa Forest
Equity to be maintained between industrialisation and ecosystem: Orissa HC
The rich history of Vantangiya’s are threatened when villages like Mahbubnagar 

Forest dwellers to elect village heads for first time in UP

The Vantangiya tribe lives in dense forest areas of Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Gonda and Balrampur in Eastern UP

Image Courtesy:newindianexpress.com

Members of the Vantangiya tribe, the forest dwellers who live in Gorakhpur and adjoining districts, will for the first time since Independence participate in the panchayat elections on April 15. The tribes folk will exercise their right to vote and elect their own village head in the first-phase voting for Uttar Pradesh panchayat polls. The Gorakhpur Vantangiya villages will vote in the first phase when over 3,500 of tribal voters will choose their own gram pradhan, according to a report in the New Indian Express.

Gorakhpur district has five Vantangiya villages, the adjoining Maharajganj has 18 and Gonda and Balrampur have five each. These areas became revenue villages in 2017. The report quotes social activist Manoj Singh who says these elections will result in the “real empowerment,” of the tribes.

The villagers had voted for the first time in the 2019 general election, but it is the panchayat polls that will have a direct impact as they will choose a leader who is one of them, and who hopefully will be able to relate to their daily concerns and help solve  problems.

According to a 2019 feature in Down to Earth magazine, Vantangiyas have been settled in pockets of eastern Uttar Pradesh for a century, but didn’t have voting rights till the 1990s. They are said to be the one who turned barren lands into forests, however, as is the case elsewhere with other forest dwellers, they too did not have a right over forest produce and continued to lead impoverished lives. According to the report there are about 60,000 Vantangiyas living in Gorakhpur and Maharajgunj districts.

Who are the Vantangiyas and what is their story?

SanbrangIndia’s detailed news feature on the tribe had shown how their history can in fact be traced to when the British were expanding rail lines zeroed in onto the forest of Deori, Nainital, Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Kheeri, Bahraich, Balrampur Maharajganj, Gorakhpur and more in Uttar Pradesh. After passing the Awadh Forest Rules, the British cunningly captured the forests of Bahraich in 1861, and in 1885, they brought in the forest department to control the forest produce. For this, four ranges of Motipur, Chakia, Charda and Bhinga were at breakneck speed in the whole country. To lay a kilometre of a rail line, 60 Sakhu trees had to be sacrificed for their strength. The wood was used to lay sleepers below the railway line and the demand for the wood increased. The Forest officers in the newly minted forest department chopped down many Sakhu forests in the region. The feature on the origins and history of the Vantangiyas may be read here.

Related:

Allahabad HC has not ordered evictions of Surma villagers of Dudhwa Forest
Equity to be maintained between industrialisation and ecosystem: Orissa HC
The rich history of Vantangiya’s are threatened when villages like Mahbubnagar 

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.
Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020
hashimpura

Hashimpura Massacre

The Lemmings of Hashimpura

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

IN FACT

Analysis

2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.
Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020
hashimpura

Hashimpura Massacre

The Lemmings of Hashimpura

Archives