Jangal Do Ya Phaansi Do: MP Adivasis protest
Adivasis from three villages (Umardoh, Bod and Pipal Barra) in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district (Chincholi division) are in the midst of a unique battle to save their forest lands. Haath mein Hathkaddi, Muh Par Kaali Patti, Jangal Do Ya Phaansi (Hands handcuffed, Mouths gagged, Give us our Forests or Hang Us) is the mode of protest reflected in these photographs.
There has been repression against these villages by officers of the Forest Department aided by the MP police since December 19, 2015. Forty-five huts of these Adivasis were first destroyed on December 19, 2015, the farm produce also destroyed. They were then re-built by the Adivasis were once again destroyed on January 2, 2016. Adivasi youth who were recording the repressive acts of the forest department were also reportedly roughed up. There are strong protests still brewing.
A dharna protest had been begun by Adivasis since December 25 outside the Collector’s office that went on for eight days. Adivasis were demanding the observation of due process of law. Reportedly, following chief minister Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Chouhan’s interventions discussions were even held with the elected representatives (Member of Parliament), administration and the Adivasis on December 31. There was an agreement that the issue would be resolved after interventions and seeking a solution through the Supreme Court of India. It was only on that assurance that the Adivasis returned to their villages on January 1, 2016.
As soon as the dharna was lifted after reaching an agreement, a 50 member team of police and forest officials descended upon the three villages and broke down all the homes that had been re-constryucted by the Adivasis themselves. A nursery of budding fruit and vegetable saplings was also destroyed. There is a video recording of this destruction by the Adivasi Youth Paplesh who was beaten by police officer, RK Yadav and attempts made to break the mobile in which he recorded the video. All the displaced Adivasis are extremely angered by the duplicitous policies of the government.
Google map of Umardoh village
Google map of Bod village
Google map of Pipal Barra village