While movements by tribal people to restore their rights over the land and forest are taking up to extremist ideologies, the tribal people not accepting to such ideas are becoming the worst victims of the conflict and such extremist movements.
Jambuli Maleka, a woman leader of Bandhugaon block of Odisha’s Koraput district and the Naib-Sarpanch (vice-Sarpanch) of Kumbarput Grampanchayat, was a peace loving woman and always wanted to lead development and live with her community. But destiny had something else to offer.
The supporters of the movement led by Nachika Linga, a radical tribal youth heading the Chasi Mulia Adivasi sangh (CMAS), came to the village Kopakhal and asked the villagers to join their organisation and the movement to ensure rights of tribal people on the land and the forest, as claimed by the CMAS and its leader Nachika Linga. The denial of the villagers made their life horrible with atrocious behaviour and continuous torture by CMAS Members.
“The Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh members came and forced our villagers to join them. When villagers denied, they forced me to tell the villagers to join because I was the Village leader. As I denied, they started beating me and other villagers and threatened us to kill if we do not join them. They tortured our people from time to time as well. So, we opted to leave the place and came here,” said Jambuli Maleka who is now living in a slum in the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha province.
Not only Jambuli, at least 7 tribal families from the same village had to leave their villages and live like refugee in an urban slum after hiding in the forests for about three months.
“These families came here because of atrocious behaviour and torture by one Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh who forced these people to join their movement. As these people denied to join them, the supporters of the movement started torturing these people. They stopped the government rice, old-age pension, electricity and everything to trouble these people. Not only that, people were also beaten to get bed ridden for a week or so and were not allowed to be taken to hospitals,” said Ananta Pal, a social activist who arranged shelter for these tribal families in distress.
The issue has come to the notice of their representative Jhina Hikaka, the legislator who himself had been the victim of abduction by the Maoist extremists operating in the provincial borders of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
‘This issue is there since long. Some have gone to Andhra Pradesh, some are in Koraput. These people have come to Bhubaneswar. I know this and I have talked to the Chief Secretary to sort their problems out’, said the legislator.
However, the legislator has no other way but to try to sort out the issues of these people through administrative interference as because he is not visiting his constituency since the mishap with him for security reasons.
In such a situation, these people displaced by conflict and the movement, that claims to be working for protecting the rights of the tribal people, don’t see a quick end to their plight but to accept and adapt to the harshness of life.
It exemplifies how the growing conflict in the tribal populated forest regions of India has displaced many of the tribal families and converted them into its refugee. While movements by tribal people to restore their rights over the land and forest are taking up to extremist ideologies, the tribal people not accepting to such ideas are becoming the worst victims of the conflict and such extremist movements.
The report was published on September 5, 2012, at the HotnHitNews.