Sunday, September 21, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Against the injustice and victimization of right less forest villagers of Katerniaghat Wild Life Sanctuary in Bahraich District of Uttar Pradesh in INDIA
Nyaya Adhikaar Satyagrah: Why….?
The Location of the story
The story begins from a cluster of 8 forest villages (The villages inhibited on forest lands.) named- Bhawanipur, Bichhia, Bichhia Bazar, Kailash Nagar, Gokulpur, Mahboob Nagar and Gokulpur (Dafadargaurhi) fall under a forest sanctuary named- Katarnia Ghat Wild Life Sanctury situated at Indo-Nepal border region in Mihinpurwa block of Bahraich district in the Uttar Pradesh state of India.
The Previous History
All these forest villages known as “Vangram”, were inhibited by the British rule in the year of 1865 when the Forest Management was taken over by them to develop forests. At the same time the “Land Sattlement Act” was executed by the Govt. under which all the farmers have to pay the land tax in “cash” instead of grains and it was too high. As result, a big number of small and marginal farmers became land less.
To develop the forests against “no cost”, the British officers have planned to inhibit these landless farmers on forest lands with some terms and conditions like:
• they will not allowed for “pucca” houses and cemented constructions but they can built hey-huts and allowed to use forest products for this purpose.
• they will do “begaar”(work without any wages) in the projects implemented for the development of forests or when ever it needed.
• they will be free to graze their animal in forests, collect fuel wood and wood for necessary furnitures.
• they will pay a land tax amount of Rs. 0.39 per beegha or Rs. 1.95 per acre of land to the forest department.
• they will provide free calves to British officers at the time of hunting.
• they will never be given any govt. facility for the development. And………..
• the land will not be transferred to the next generation.
All the landless laborers were helpless to accept these terms and they accepted.
Even after the 62 years independence, all the terms and conditions are continued and all the dwellers of forest villages are living like “slaves”.
The conditions became worst in comparison to British rule after the independence. We can see as under:
• All the facilities given by the Britishers were finished by the Indian Forest Department but the exploitation described above was still continued.
• In the year of 2000, they were declared encroachers.
• No Govt. schemes, programmes or facilities even residence/ caste or income certificates were given to these forest villages.
• The intensive prevalence of severe poverty, starvation deaths, malnutrition, seasonal epidemics.
• The atrocities were increased by the forest officials on the villagers.
• The forest officials started taking grains, milk, milk products and all the agriculture products at the cost of the existence of the family.
The Initiative of Movement
In the year of 2002-03, a study was conducted on this issue by a youth social activist named-Jitendra Chaturvedi whose childhood was passed through the forest villages. After the study, on the basis of the findings he decided to start a movement for the basic rights of the forest villagers.
He motivated them to united themselves in an organization and named it-“Vangram Adhikaar Manch” . All the families residing in the forest villages joined “Vangram Adhikaar Manch”.
Opposition of the violation
All the forest villagers were given trainings on important issues like-Indian Constitution, Forest and Wild Life Protection Acts, IPC/CRPC, Human Rights, Right to Food, Child Rights and leadership development.
After the trainings, the forest villagers became empowered and started to oppose atrocities, taking bribe against using forest products like hey for huts, fuel wood etc., charging illegal money (100 Times more than the legal provisions), “Begaar” (Work without wages) by the forest officials. They have also started to demand their basic rights as all the other Indian citizens are availing by writing demand letters to higher authorities, policy makers and others, demonstrations, rallies and dharanas.
The villagers Initiatives in the protection of Forest and wild life
They also started to protect the forests and wild life through their own interventions like forming “Van evam Vanya Jeev Suraksha Samiti” in each forest villages.
In the mission of protecting forests and wild life they find that the majority of the forest and wild life crime cases are promoted by the forest officials and it is for gaining the money. Actually, this was not new for the forest villagers but before, they were afraid of forest officials that they will demolish them and now they were organized.
They have started to file applications under the Right To Information Act on the provisions of their rights, reasons for the deprivation of forest villagers, informations related to forest villages etc.
They have made the several efforts in which the role of forest officials in the forest crimes and wild life loss was proved. Some examples are given below:-
1. One Watcher was caught with 3 labourers and wood cutter equipments near Katarnia Ghat railway crossing when all making wooden sleepers after cutting a Teek tree on 8th April, 2006 and handed over to SSB.
2. On 20st May-2006, a leopard was killed by the forest officials in the exercise of capturing. This leopard was stalking on the villagers. The whole process was recorded in a video CD by the youths of forest villages. Next day the forest officials file the complaint against 24 villagers in the Sujauli Police station. When we presented the CD in the Police Station as the proof of villager’s innocence, Police decided not to proceed against the villagers.
3. On 27th November 2007, the forest officials cut down 51 green trees of teak and eucalyptus just on 30 meters distance from a forest barrier named-Bichhia under Katarnia Ghat range and a FIR laws against 6 forest officials(Case No. 206).
4. On 4th November, 2007, we have informed forest officials about some unknown suspicious persons inside the forest area at the north bank of river Gerua. But no action was taken by the officials.
On 6th October, 2007, a criminal of Bawaria Poachers Gang caught red handed by the youths of “Vangram Adhikaar Manch” with the organs, meat and skin of a Tiger at Bichhia Railway station.
Due to these efforts, the forest department started to victimize the forest villagers by filing the fake cases on them.
Mis-use of the legal rights to forest officials
The forest officials are given the right to register the forest cases under Forest Act and Wild Life Protection Act and these cases are directly entertained by the court. They misused this right with vested interest and registered 14 fake cases under Forest Act and Wild Life Protection Act on more than 500 forest villagers along with named 123 all those innocent forest villagers who have taken initiatives in all the efforts mentioned above or opposed the atrocities of forest officials.
4 youths named – Jung Hindustani, Saroj Gupta, Fareed Ansari and Samiuddeen of them are in District Jail, Bahraich since 1 month. They have surrendered in a false case by honoring court and after 23 days the bail was granted by the Honourable Court. But at the same time the forest department pursued the case and issued 4 more warrants in other fake cases time. Hence, the duration of their imprisonment is gradually increasing.
The Previous Efforts against false/fake casesThe forest villagers demanded so many times to higher officials, policy makers, PM and President also for the investigation of all the matters through the Judiciary. But the result was always zero.
The local MLA of BSP Mr. Waris Ali had tried to withdraw the cases through the Chief Minister’s intervention. But the District Magistrate has also sent adverse report without the deep investigation to the Govt. As result, this application has dismissed.
We felt that every official of each sector taking the salary from the Govt. is biased in all the above matters. No body listens to the poor forest villagers. No bail is given by the Judiciary in the cases of forest or wild life act without imprisonment.
And now…………………………..The “Nyaya Adhikaar Satyagrah”
Due to all the above reasons, all the forest villagers have decided to expedite a long movement against this injustice named- “Nyaya Adhikaar Satyagrah” since 1st September, 2008. The programme is as follows:
1. Niraparaadh Atma-samarpan Pad Yatra from Motipur to Bahraich court (65 Km.) will be organized since 1st Sept. 2008. In which, all the 123 innocent forest villagers named under Forest cases along with 500 villagers with the hands bounded with ropes and a black tape on the mouths. The named persons will surrender themselves in the Honorable Court.
2. Dharana and Anshan/Hunger Strike will be organized by the 2000-3000 villagers in Bichhia Bazar for unlimited duration.
3. Evening “Chulha Bandi” [No food taking and cooking in the evening] in all the households in 8 forest villages.
4. Hunger strike by the 123 surrendered persons in the District Jail.
We request you to favor us for Justice. So that all the youths and residents of the forest villages could be mainstreamed with the nation.
On behalf of Forest villagers,
Dr. Jitendra Chaturvedi
Mobile: 094150 54079