Manju JA, a 29-year-old Adivasi whose shanty was razed by the forest department and the local police, spends her night roofless under the open sky with other tribal people at Tattalli and Biddalli villages in Virajpet, Karnataka.
Several suffered injuries and many including women and children were left homeless, as reported by The News Minute.
It was the night of December 6. The villagers went to bed only to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to the sound of JCBs demolishing their homes.
The tribals claim that the local police and forest department did not give them any prior notice and razed down their huts.
“If everyone had not come outside immediately and rushed our children out of her homes, they would have not been here with us.” says Manju, as reported by The News Minute.
Almost 3,000 Adivasis belonging to Bettakurba, Jenukuruba, Yerava, Sholia, Paniya tribes were living in shanties on a 2.5-acre plot near the coffee estates in Biddalli and Tattalli villages in Virajpet Taluk of Karnataka since June 2016.
The demolition drive was with a motive to render them homeless as they decided not to live with the owners of the coffee estates, as claimed by Appaji, one of the tribal leaders. He also alleged that they would give them food and a hutment but no salaries. They wanted to earn money and live freely. So they moved out of the estates and with the consent of the forest department, they started living there.
The Adivasis alleged that the owners of the coffee estates colluded with the police and demolished their homes.
Appaji blamed security personnel for not giving them time to take the kids and women out of the shanties.
Nirvanappa, the State Secretary of the Karnataka Farmer’s Association, said that eight people including four women were arrested by the police when their homes were being demolished. The police beat them and to save themselves the women disrobed so that the police don’t touch them. The arrested persons stayed in a station for two days and later was released on bail.
The Adivasis protested outside CB Halli Ashrama School against this justice.
The committee member of the Bhumi Vaasthi Vanchitara Samiti, Padma SJ who supported the protest highlighted some points on this issues. She said that as per the Forest Rights Act (FRA) or the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, the Adivasis have to be given 2.5 acres of land per adult for their livelihood by the government. But, there has been no action taken by the government in this regard. The tribal people have been struggling for food and water, and even then they have not been given an inch of land.
The officials have claimed that the Adivasis were from Assam and Pakistan and they were not the members of the tribal community and hence the demolition drive was carried out.
The police have not given any comment on this issue.
Even if the villagers were not from the tribal communities, it is not right for any authority to raze homes without prior notice to the citizens. Any citizen of the country should be given the opportunity to relocate before their homes are destroyed.