Those who addressed the gathering included Delhi University’s Dr Jitendra Meena, Dr Saroj Giri of the Political Science Department and Dr Nandita Narain of St. Stephen’s College, DU.
Dr Meena spoke on the intensified displacement of Adivasis from their land by way of big corporates seeking to begin mining projects in resource-rich regions. He raised his astonishment as to how forests in Hasdeo which were once declared a “No-Go” zone for human activities are now being cut down for the interests of Adani’s mining project right after the BJP government came to power in Chhatisgarh.
He expressed his concern regarding how displacement of people in the name of environmental conservation and building a tiger reserve such as in Kaimur, is being justified through amendments in forest conservation and wildlife protection laws.
He said, “108 villages in Kaimur have been given a notice for displacement. Same story is being seen in Rajasthan, in the Kumbhalgarh area, where more than 50 villages have received the same notices for displacement. In Karoli, Dhaulpur, more than 50 villages too have received notices from the government to leave. Where will these Adivasi peasants go, what will happen to their lives? Nobody knows. But the story of displacing them from their lands has already begun, whether it be in Kaimur, Hasdeo, Bastar or Rajasthan.”
Dr Giri pointed out how the Indian state is unleashing an undeclared and undocumented war on the Adivasi people of the country since Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt which has now intensified into Operation Samadhan-Prahar. The people’s struggle against militarization and corporate loot is a struggle for their existence which is tied to their land, he said.
Condemning the death of a 6 month old infant in Bijapur during anti-Naxal operations, he drew a contrast with previous such massacres in Gompad, Sarkeguda and Eddesmetta, stating, despite judicial enquiry reports finding the paramilitary personnel responsible for the fake encounter in Edesmetta and Sarkeguda, no action has been taken.
Dr Narain said how corporate loot of resources is expanding its tentacles. She reminisced the campaign led by Dr GN Saibaba against Operation Green Hunt which culminated in his incarceration, thereby exposing the state’s attempt to silence any voice that questions this undeclared war.
The protest was also addressed by constituent members of FACAM.