Forest Rights Groups Plan Mass Protest and ‘Sansad Gherao’ on Nov 21

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Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan

Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI – Calling upon the Supreme Court to come clean on the charges of bias before proceeding with hearing on Section 24(2) of the 2013, Bhumi Adhikar Andolan and forest rights groups on Monday have announced mass protests across the country on November 17 and ‘Sansad (parliament) Gherao’ on November 21 to press their demand. The next hearing in their case is scheduled on November 26.

After the countrywide protests against its ruling of February 13, 2019, the Supreme Court had amended its ruling and stayed it till July 10, 2019. In view of the next date of hearing in the case fixed for November 26 further evictions have been put on hold. However, Hannan Mollah of All India Kisan Sabha said the forest department is still evacuating people from their lands and destroying their farms and habitat leading to violence as in Burhanpur (MP) and Sonbhadra (UP) and several such instances have been reported in many states since February 2019.

The NDA Government, , he alleged was also proposing draconian amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927 to facilitate corporate loot and exploitation of the tribal people. All this will further vitiate the atmosphere in the forests and snatch away the rights of the adivasis and forest dwellers.

“A series of meetings have been held by the movement groups and adivasi groups across the country in the past few months including nationwide 300 mass protests on July 22nd. Many organisations have also intervened in the Supreme Court. Under pressure, some of the state governments have filed their affidavits in the court and agreed to review the process.”

In response to the continued violation of people’s rights and dilution of Forest Rights Act a national action has been planned on November 21 at Sansad Marg, Delhi. State, district and village level actions have also been planned by the movement’s groups in the preceding week in protest against the violations.

It is to be noted that Bhumi Adhikar Andolan was formed in the wake of the BJP government bringing ordinance to change the Land Act 2013 as it is completely unconstitutional and illegal. Blatant violation of the Central Act has been continued by state governments with the connivance of the Union government.

Madras High Court struck down the provisions of the Tamil Nadu state’s amendments but many other states, including Karnataka, Maharashtra among others continue to use the state laws based on the Land Act of 1894.

It also needs to be noted that the state governments have failed to protect the interests of the farmers and landowners despite many judgements on Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act by the High Court. Even in the ongoing Constitution Bench hearing in Supreme Court the Union government has consistently stonewalled the efforts of the farmers’ groups which have challenged the unconstitutional amendments to the 2013 Act. Unfortunately, the Union government is siding with the corporates which have challenged the High Court judgments in favour of farmers.

Bhumi Adhikar Andolan also urged the Supreme Court to first clear the ongoing controversy surrounding the recusal of judges who have been party to the previous judgments. It’s a matter of constitutional propriety that judges who have been part of the previous judgments must recuse.

Mollah said the matter concerns millions of farmers and those dependent on agriculture and their interests must be protected.

Bhumi Adhikar Andolan vowed to continue its challenge to the attack on rights of the farmers, workers, Adivasis and other forest dwellers in the Courts as well as on the ground.

It also called upon like-minded groups to extend their support and join the Sansad Gherao on November 21 in Delhi.

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