Yesterday, today and tomorrow, mass protests are being held across India against the BJP government at the Centre’s moves to attack the rights of tribals and forest dwellers. Tens of thousands of people are protesting in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Nagar Haveli, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand against the government’s steps, including:
- Encouraging illegal acts by forest officials, including illegally diverting forest land and denying people rights. Instead of recognising rights, the government proposed an amendment to the Indian Forest Act that would allow forest officials to arrest, raid and search without warrant, confiscate property, extinguish people’s rights by just paying cash, and shoot and kill forest dwellers while facing nothing more than an enquiry. For six months this anti-people proposal was allowed to stand and was only withdrawn two days ago.
- The government has remained silent in the Supreme Court, allowing a case based on lies and misleading propaganda against the Forest Rights Act to go unchallenged and eventually leading the Court to direct the eviction of millions of families.
The following protests are taking place:
- Madhya Pradesh – a month long Adivasi Hunkar Yatra, organised by a cross-party and cross-organisation coalition, staged a huge mass protest in Bhopal with thousands of people.
- Chhattisgarh – week long padyatras from multiple districts in the state are reaching Raipur and will be holding a mass rally tomorrow.
- Odisha – starting tomorrow, hundreds of people will be joining a dharna in Bhubaneshwar, with people from southern districts joining on the 18th, from northern districts on the 19th, and from western districts on Wednesday.
- Rajasthan – following on a series of rallies and dharnas, several thousand people protested in front of the Tribal Commissioner’s office in Udaipur.
- Tamil Nadu – A protest will be held in Kanyakumari district headquarters tomorrow, and a bandh is being called in the Nilgiris tomorrow with a dharna and hunger strike the day after.
- Dadra and Nagar Haveli – A mass protest was held in the capital yesterday.
- Uttarakhand – A joint press conference by the state’s social movements and opposition parties will be held tomorrow in Dehradun, and a date for a protest announced.
- Gujarat – A cross organisation delegation convened by Adivasi Mahasabha will be raising demands before the Tribal Commissioner tomorrow.
On the 21st, the cross-party and cross-organisation coalition Bhumi Adhikar Andolan will be holding a mass rally in Delhi with several thousand people expected to participate.
Since protests in Jharkhand are difficult to organise with the model code of conduct in force, a mass rally on these demands was already held on October 12th in Ranchi. Mass protests in Thane and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra had to be cancelled due to rains.
Photos can be found below.