Tribal and Dalit rights organization call for Bharat Bandh today

They will be highlighting their demand from the centre to pass ordinances to secure forest rights and representation in UGC faculty posts.

Image Courtesy: Raveendran/AFP

New Delhi: Tribal and Dalit rights organisations have called for Bharat Bandh on March 5 to protest the February 13 Supreme Court order to evict traditional forest and tribal dwellers from 21 states and the 13 point roster. They will be highlighting their demand from the centre to pass ordinances to secure forest rights and representation in UGC faculty posts.
The call for the nationwide strike came after the claims of forest dwelling and tribal communities over forest land were rejected under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Though the Supreme Court stayed the order last week, tribal rights groups have demanded an ordinance, stating that there is still a looming threat of evictions.
Omprakash of Adivasi Adhikar Andolan, which will organise protests in Madhya Pradesh, said, “We were always assured that everyone will be given pattas for the land they occupy but that was never done. Now the government wants to take away our land…”
Adivasi groups across the states have called upon political and social activists to join them in their march from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar, Delhi as part of the bandh on Tuesday. The aim is to highlight the issue of restoring the Forest Rights Act.
They are also rallying for an ordinance to be passed to ensure fair representation in the University Grants Commission (UGC) faculty posts. The Supreme Court had upheld an Allahabad High Court order over reservation of SC/STs in the appointment of faculty members in universities in January.
They have also demanded that the government establish the Indian Judicial Services under Article 312 of the Constitution, for recruitment in higher judiciary posts to ensure inclusion of SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities and women.
The All India Union of Forest Working People units across the country will protest in many parts of the country. On March 5, they will organise a peaceful protest in Sonbhadra, Chitrakoot, Lakhimpur Khiri and Baharaich in Uttar Pradesh and March 6 in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. They will have a press conference in Lucknow, UP on March 9 and another in West Bengal on March 11.
The tribal groups are upset with the BJP-led Centre for ‘failing’ to defend the community’s rights in the court. They have now demanded that the NDA government should bring forth an Ordinance to safeguard their rights, as per the Forest Rights Act. Earlier, Dalit and tribal activist Ashok Bharti had told the Times of India that the bandh on March 5 would only be called off if their demands were met.



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