Working For Rehabilitation Of Adivasis, Branded A Naxalite; Karnataka Actor Asks Apology From BJP Leader

Poorbita Bagchi

April 9th, 2018

Image Credit: Chetan Ahimsa

On April 1, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa released a charge sheet against the ruling Congress government in Karnataka for the “Naxal-inspired” struggle in Diddaalli. In the same charge sheet, the name of Kannada actor Chetan Ahimsa had surfaced, where he was called the leader of the so-called “Naxal-inspired” movement.  

Ahimsa has sought for an official apology from both Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and BS Yeddyurappa as they have undermined a rehabilitation struggle by giving it a “naxal-inspired” angle. 

What was the struggle for?

The strive for struggle, demanding what is rightfully theirs, is how tribals from Diddalli forest, Virajpet taluk have been surviving. On December 7, 2016, more than 500 tribal families were evicted from Diddalli forest. The reason for the eviction was that they cannot form settlements in a Reserve forest.

Initially, in June 2016, seven families moved to the forest and soon the number rose to 577. The government wanted to give them land around the estate but they refused to move as they feared harassment at the hands of coffee planters. Ancestors of the tribals used to live in the village before December 31, 2005, and thus, according to Tribes and Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, they are entitled to land rights in the forest.

Ancestors of the tribals used to live in the village before December 31, 2005, and thus, according to Tribes and Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, they are entitled to land rights in the forest.

Other similar protests

Ahimsa has always supported the Adivasis in their struggle for accommodation. “This is not the only time I have stood by the disposed and marginalised of our society. Four months back I fought for the Kadu Golla people who had no identity at all. On January 17, 2018, their status was officially recognised by the state government,” said Chetan while speaking to The Logical Indian. 

The Kadu Gollas are marginalised Kannada-speaking Adivasis living in isolated colonies (hattis) near Tumkur, Chitradurga and Bellary district.

Ahimsa has fought against superstitions prevailing amongst tribals. “Among the Koraga Adivasis, there was a practice called ‘Anjali Paddhathi’ that included mixing nails and hair of people belonging to the higher community in the food of pregnant woman. After raising awareness about the issue, this practice was finally banned under the Karnataka Anti-Superstition Bill in 2017,” said the actor-activist.

The Koraga Adivasis are from Uttar Kannada and Udupi district of coastal Karnataka.

Ahimsa believes that his protest and struggle that rehabilitated 3,000 evicted Adivasis of Diddali into 528 homes have been reduced to nothing by terming it “anti-national” and “Naxal-inspired”.

“The entire struggle was peaceful. Nobody initiated or instigated violence,” he said. 

He further questioned, “There was a time when Section 144 was unjustly imposed. At that time too we did not break any law and continued our protest in a Gandhian way. How is it justified that we are termed ‘Naxals’?”   

On Saturday, a group of supporters reached Maurya Circle to protest against the charge sheet. They too are demanding an apology from law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

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