50 tribal families of Chinna Jaggampeta in Nathavaram mandal of Vishakhapatnam district, Andhra Pradesh sat on a hunger strike on Thursday outside the office of the Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO).
Their demands include, immediate suspension of Korada Suryarao who is the RDO of Narsipatam, the return of the paddy crop that was cut and coercively seized by the MRO, some action from the Joint Collector to settle the issue, and also cancelling the RDO’s order that urged the MRO to cut the crop.
On the morning of January 6, the MRO, Kanaka Rao, along with a team of over 50 armed policemen and 70 hired labourers, entered the Chinna Jaggampeta village and cut the paddy crop that was nearing harvest. They forcibly packed 70 of the villagers — including women, the elderly and children — into the police vans and took them to the KD Peta Police Station located about 30 km from the village.
The MRO had acted on the order given by RDO under CrPC Section 146.
The tribal villagers of Chinna Jaggampeta took an entire year to yield the crops which were all taken at once. Since January 6, they have been rushing to every department to get their crops back.
With no one to listen to their pleas, these villagers have decided to sit on a hunger strike.
History of the farmers of Chinna Jaggampeta
The tribals have been in possession of 22 acres of land before the time of India’s independence. The families have been growing one crop of paddy on 11 acres and cashew, coconut and palm on the other 11 acres. After generations of cultivation of cultivation, they have developed a unique cooperative system, where none is the owner of any plot and the entire produce is shared equally after harvest.
However, post-1974, Ankam Reddy Nookaraju, a non-tribal political leader, had been eyeing the land and has been managed to get a passbook.
Despite a High Court’s status quo has been issued on the land, the RDO had ordered to seize the land.
Even after years of endeavours, the tribals have not seen any hope to get a legal passbook of this land.
Although China Jaggampeta is not listed under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, it had been included in the list of 800 villages (in the erstwhile unified AP). The then State government had proposed the Central government to include the village in the list of Scheduled Areas through a Presidential notification.
Presently, the village lies within the Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) area, for which the State has enacted the Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan Act No.1 of 2013, and has been providing special budgetary allocations year after year