Ministry report names groups opposed to mining and sale of tribal land
The Home Ministry has said in its annual report that at least two civil rights groups working for tribal people in Odisha and Jharkhand were allegedly acting as a front organisation for the Maoists and were using “displacement of local communities” as their main plank.
The Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS) in Odisha and the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA) in Jharkhand are the organisations.
The samiti has actively campaigned against mining activity by the Odisha Mining Corporation atop the Niyamgiri hills in south-western Odisha, which would have given U.K.-based Vedanta Group access to natural resources.
In 2013, as many as 12 gram sabhas of Dongaria Kondh and Kutia Kandha spread across Rayagada and Kalahandi districts voted against any mining activity in the area.
Last year, the Supreme Court quashed a petition by the corporation to hold fresh gram sabha consultations to allow bauxite mining on Nyamgiri hills.
Changes to tenancy law
Last year, the VVJVA vehemently opposed the Jharkhand government’s decision to amend two tenancy laws to allow use of agricultural land of tribal people for non-agricultural purposes. The Chotanagpur Tenancy Act of 1908 restricts the sale of tribal land to non-tribals in 16 districts of Jharkhand. The Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act of 1876 also prohibited sale of tribal land to non-tribals in the Santhal Pargana region.
“The Maoists tried to strengthen coordination between its mass organisations and other like-minded organisations to undertake programmes against alleged state violence and for protection of democratic rights. In 2016, the issue of displacement of local communities remained the main plank of mobilisation by the mass organisations,” the Home Ministry’s report said.
Referring to the samiti, the report said, “In Niyamgiri Hills area, the outfit [Maoists] continued to guide the activities of the NSS.”
“Similarly, in Jharkhand, the VVJVA, a front of CPI(Maoist) tried to rake up the pro-tribal issues and opposed amendments to the Chotanagpur and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Acts, modifications in Domicile policy, etc.” it said.
The report said Maoist affiliates also undertook protest programmes and resorted to anti-government propaganda over alleged atrocities by security forces. “They organised similar meetings over the issue of Kashmir and called for a plebiscite in the State,” the report said.
As per Home Ministry data, at least 323 incidents of violence related to left-wing extremism were reported in Jharkhand in 2016, second only to Chattisgarh, which recorded 395 incidents. Odisha recorded 86 incidents in 2016.
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