SC bats for Adivasis' rights over natural resources, Govt disagrees

Written by Stan Swamy | Published on: January 22, 2018
Supreme Court

Some facts:
  1. The Central Indian States of M.P, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bengal are blessed with enormous amount of minerals, water sources and forests;                                                                   
  2. Adivasicommunities have for centuries lived, owned and used these natural resources;
  3. While enormous wealth is extracted from Adivasiland by the state and private companies, the people are being deprived of their rights over their natural resources;
  4. Many tribals are falsely implicated and arrested for daring to protest against the violation of their constitutional and human rights like the right to possess and protect their land and livelihood resources. Label given to them ‘naxal’ / ‘maoists’;
  5. 90% of so-called naxals are adivasis… but  90% of adivasis are not naxals;
  6. Currently thousands of Adivasi youth are languishing in the jails of Jharkhand as under-trials prisoners;
  7. Fake encounters and fake surrenders have become a norm;
  8. Trial of under-trial prisoners is deliberately prolonged because if they are tried, most will be acquitted.
  9. At long last, admitting a PIL on under-trial prisoners, Jharkhand  HC has directed state govt to provide detailed information about all under-trial prisoners in all the jails of Jharkand by January 2018

How does theJharkandgovt deal with so-called ‘naxals’?
  • Either make the naxals surrender or shoot them down in encounters” [the Internal Security Adiviser’s order to the police/para-military forces on April 2, 2015 at Rania, Jharkhand ]    In obeying this order, Jkd police and para-military forces claim that during 2017 they have arrested 608 ‘maoists’, 47 surrendered their arms and, and 12 maoists have been gunned down. They also have announced that they are all set to confiscate the property owned by top 40 Maoist leaders. The DGP rewarded each of the twenty Jharkhand Jaguar personnel with Rs, 10,000 cash and congratulated them for gunning down a maoist splinter group area commander a few days ago. [ Hindustan Times, Ranchi ed., Jan. 20, 2018].What a reward for killing people!

How does SC analyse the ‘naxal’ question?
  1. In the context of a writ against the purchase of tribal land in violation of CNT Act in Jharkhand  the SC observed “If tribals’ land is being sold illegally, then they (tribals) will turn into Naxalites…” [ SC verdict on , March 25 2014 on a PIL on illegal transfer of tribal land]
  2. In yet another judgment against Chattisgarh State arming some tribal youth as Special Police Officers to fight their fellow tribal brothers under the tag of SalwaJudum the SC observed  “ the fight against Maoist/Naxalite violence could not be conducted purely as a mere law and order problem to be confronted by whatever means the State could muster…The primordial problem lies deep within the socio-economic policies pursued by the State on a society that was already endemically, and horrifically, suffering from gross inequalities. Consequently, the fight against Maoists/Naxalites is no less a fight for moral, constitutional and legal authority over the minds and hearts of our people.” [NandiniSundar and Ors vs. the State of ChattisgarhSC/0724/2011]
  3. In reference to a case of a young tribal woman being paraded naked by the powerful section of a village in Maharashtra, the lower courts failed to give her justice, finally the SC came to her rescue and ordered severe punishment to the accused. The apex court observed: “ the most disadvantaged and marginalized in India are the Adivasis (STs), the descendants of the original inhabitants of India, and are the most marginalized and living in terrible poverty…They were slaughtered in large numbers, and the survivors and their descendants were degraded, humiliated, and all kinds of atrocities inflicted on them for centuries. They were deprived of their lands, and pushed into forests and hills where they eke out a miserable existence of poverty, illiteracy, disease, etc. And now efforts are being made by some people to deprive them even of their forest and hill land where they are living, and the forest produce on which they survive.” [SC:Kailas &Orsvs State Of Maharashtra, Criminal Appeal No. 11/2011]

The above testimonies are self-explanatory. They do not need any further comment.

May the conscience of the nation awake!