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India – People being starved to death by the Govt. in the name of Aadhaar and DBT

Samvidhan Samman Yatra after travelling through 11 states in 31 days entered into third phase, starting from Jharkhand

 

People being starved to death by the Govt. in the name of Aadhar and DBT

 

The Land of Aadivasi getting looted by the state in the name of Mines, Industries and Land Bank

 

NAPM condemns the state repression on Pathalgarhi movement and Human Rights Defenders and asserts the Constitutional rights of Gram Sabhas

 

Govt. on spree to kill Democracy, Dissent, and Diversity in the state; People of Godda resisting against Adani Power Plant

 

Another starvation death of an Adivasi in Dumka today; Application for Ration Card still pending in the Govt. office

 

Ranchi, Jharkhand: After successfully completing Yatra in two-phases, 11 states, Samvidhan Samman Yatra begins Phase 3 Yatra from Jharkhand State and will travel through Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, and finally culminate in Delhi on 10th December on International Human Rights Day.

 

People of Jharkhand have witnessed aggravated state oppression in the last 2-3 years, where adivasis of the state have been fighting against loot of natural resources, against land acquisition, dilution of CNT-SPT act, fighting against hunger deaths, human trafficking, and many more such issues.

 

Since last two days, Yatra has travelled to Malhar Toli, Ramgarh, Badakagaon, Ranchi, Nagri, Ulihatu, Khunti, Angrabari, Lachragarh, Simdega to listen to people’s plight facing forced displacement, starvation deaths, industrial pollution, imposition of Aadhar based Direct Benefit Transfer, atrocities unleashed in Adivasis areas, human rights violations etc.

 

Malhar Tola, Ramgarh

On 11th November, Yatra started from Ranchi taking leaders from different parts of country to Malhar Tola, Ramgarh. Basant Kumar Hetamsaria, NAPM Convener from Jharkhand, briefed the activists about the issues recalling the fact-finding done by the NAPM few months back. Chitaman Malhar died due to lack of food security and a complete failure of social welfare schemes in the village. The village shows the true face of state govt towards importance of people’s lives. A very few people are covered under any social welfare schemes. Majority of families do not have ration cards, NREGA cards, pensions etc. It was after the fact-finding organised by NAPM, we got to know that the situation is far worse and death of Chitaman Malhar is not due to his inability of availing social security schemes but a complete failure of administration and neglect towards people by the state.

 

Samvidhan Samman Yatra reached the village and interacted with the villagers. People in large number welcomed the activists and vowed to organize and struggle for their rights.

 

Prem, Chitaman’s son, told the activists that the death of his father was only due to hunger and nothing else. Govt. tried all means to subvert the reasons and just after his death, officials rushed to the village and distributed ration cards to few families. We are facing starvation since long but never any govt. officials paid any attention to our village.

 

Santoshi, another villager, shared that they have to walk more than 2 Kms to fetch water. We don’t have basic amenities, deprived of food, water, and shelter and Govt. How can we even imagine about cooking gas or electricity? We don’t have resources to make toilets and Govt. never paid any attention to this. They may be claiming that Ramgarh is a model in Swacch Bharat but you all can see the realities we are facing.

 

Activists expressed solidarity with the people and assured to raise the issues in national platforms. Team also noted that Supreme Court directions on Right to Food are being grossly violated by the state in this region and is highly condemnable.

 

 

Jugra Village, Badkagaon, Hazaribagh

Badkagaon in Hazaribagh district is an epicenter of intense land struggle in coal-rich state. Since more than a decade, farmers and India’s largest power producer, NTPC have been locked in a conflict here. While the NTPC wants to take over the land and mine coal for its power plant, the people in Badkagaon refused to sell their land and move away.

 

The yatra visited some of the families, whose members were brutally gunned down around 2 years back. Mithilesh Dangi from Karanpura Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, said the struggle is to save the land and livelihood of 295 villages in the valley which are endangered by coal mining by NTPC and other corporations.

 

Devdas, a local activist, said that RSS and sangh organisations distribute weapons to increase conflicts, and we distribute thoughts, and peaceful ways of struggle for our constitutional rights.

 

People can easily see the spread of coal dust on the standing crops, devastating the local agriculture and ecology of the region. The environmental regulations are being violated at each and every moment. The area witnesses the presence of wildlife species which were not even considered before the allocation of coal blocks. The Govt. is sold to corporates and not seeing anything beyond their profits.

 

Majority of elders from the village along with young members joined the meeting. Yatra expressed deep concerns and lend solidarity to their struggle.

 

Public Meeting in Satya Bharti, Ranchi

In the evening, a public meeting in the context of Constitutional rights, systems and ground realities was organised, where NAPM released a book edited by Basant Hetamsaria on hunger deaths in Jharkhand in the presence of well-known activists like Fr. Stan Swamy, Jean Dreze, Dayamani Barla, Aloka Kujur, Gabriele Dietrich, Suniti S R, Basant Hetamsaria, Rajendra Ravi, B. S. Rawat, Meera Sanghamitra and many others.

 

Meera Sanghamitra introduced the activists travelling with the yatra and briefed people on how the constitutional rights are being violated across the country. The state is hell bent on creating a private government ruled by corporates and hate mongering communal forces. The secular, democratic, diverse frame of the country is under grave threat and we all need to fight back to regain peace, natural resources, and our rights. 

 

Basant Hetamsaria after the release of book said that there have been more than 61 deaths due to hunger since 2015. Among those 18 were happened only in Jharkhand. The Govt. have been denying the constitutional rights to the people by not ensuring food security to the people. The people do not have ration cards and who have those are being denied in the name of Aadhar, and DBT. Nothing can be more heinous than this where the govt. whom we elect to ensure our constitutional rights is starving people to death and violating the article 21 of Right to Life outrightly.

 

Dayamani Barla, a well-known leader fighting against atrocities on Adivasis and land acquisition, said that the state has always been ignorant towards aadivasis and dalits. They have only one motive to facilitate the corporates in amassing their wealth and appropriate the natural resources in aadivasi areas.

 

“Hunger deaths are an issue across the nation and not just in Jharkhand. It is a failure of the government. Almost half of the deaths happened as their ration cards were not linked to Aadhar and other technical issues. It is also a failure of society, where we see in one case that a dalit person died due to hunger”, said John Dreze, a well-known economist and social activist.

 

Aloka Kujur shared her experiences on how governments are chasing human rights defenders and putting false charges to put them behind bars. Since 2017, the governments have been hyper actively creating an atmosphere of terror. State came down heavily on Pathalgarhi Movement, where people write down their constitutional rights on stone and place that at important places in their villages for awareness and assertion of their rights. State government was in fear of losing the control over resources and under the pressure from corporates, accused many leaders of Pathalgarhi movement with false police cases to suppress the movement.

 

The government does not want to implement pro-people laws which guarantees and protects people’s rights and claim over resources. The constitution needs to have provisions to defunct such governments or representatives.

 

Gabriele Dietrich, a social activist and well-known academician from Tamilnadu said that we were hopeful of adivasi leadership in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. We are up against corporates which are appropriating the resources and livelihoods of people. As we saw in Thoothukudi, they are also turning murderous, it is high time we all unite and expose the corporates hiding behind state governments.

 

Fr. Stan Swamy reflected that in the present time, we may be going through increased repression on adivasis and activists, but there is also an increase in intensity of struggles and movements. People are fighting for their rights more strongly and at many places. We will fight and we will win.

 

During the late evening, activists gathered at Bagaicha where Fr. Stan Swamy briefed about the history of Jharkhand and betrayal by those in power after the formation of state. Govt. have not been able to distribute land pattas to the people. They are calling Pathalgarhi movement, a criminal conspiracy. More than 3000 adivasi youth are behind bars when they stood for their rights and development in their areas. We also know how the government is framing the activists from other regions in Bhima Koregaon incident when the Hindutva groups are enjoying the free pass from the police and the governments. This cannot continue for long. Adivasis will stand strong and will reject the state repression. The state is unleashing violence on all kinds of movements, be it against displacement by dams, against land acquisition for corporates, for land rights under FRA, against changes in pro-people, pro-adivasis laws like CNT-SPT act and many others. Police opened fire on a meeting of more than 5000 adivasis opposing displacement by a dam. The corporate greed has corrupted the government to such extent that people are merely being treated as an object. Movements across the state are coming together and making efforts to fight against the money and muscle power of state and corporate nexus. We need such yatra more in today’s context which is making people aware about their constitutional rights, sharing experiences from other parts of the country, and listening to the people’s issues.

 

November 12, 2018

On 12th November, the Yatra reached Chette village in Nagri. Basant Hetamsaria briefed activists about the struggle. The people opposed Direct Benefit Transfer successfully and in doing so set an example for others. The people had to travel to Ranchi to get the money from the banks and then purchase the ration, which used to take at least a day or two.

 

Birsa, one of the villagers, shared that majority of the people are workers and thus incurred a huge loss while doing all this. People protested and fought a successful struggle against the imposition of DBT.

 

Suniti S R from the yatra, said that as the people of Chette village has fought and won, we need to take inspiration and share the experiences with each other. We need to know about how we won in Lavasa, and still fighting in Narmada Valley.

 

After interaction with villagers, Yatra moved ahead and a team of leaders joined the press conference organised in Ranchi. Basant Hetamsaria, NAPM Convener, Jharkhand briefed the journalists about the yatra. He said that we have seen the realities of Govt. claims in Ramgarh. People are being deprived of basic necessities forcing them to die due to hunger and abject poverty.

 

“We are raising our voices against the destruction happening in the name of development. There is a wave of corporate loot of natural resources, communal harmony is being meddled with. We firmly believe that Samta, Sadagi, and Swavalamban can only be the true face of development”, said Suniti SR from NAPM Maharashtra. She also reflected on the aspirations of people during formation of Jharkhand state. People thought of land distribution and receiving livelihood but now we can only see the betrayal from the government and leaders of the state.

 

Gabriele Dietrich from NAPM Tamilnadu said that there is a contestation over land between companies and local people on a wider scale. People are being denied ration and they are dying of hunger. This is quite shocking in a country where more than 40% of crops are getting wasted.

 

“The government has been trying to dilute protections provided under the schedule areas and land acquisition act of 2013. If the government continues the repression, then we are also standing strong and will continue to resist”, said Meera Sanghamitra from NAPM Andhra Pradesh – Telangana.

 

In the evening, Yatra was welcomed in Khudda village of Khunti district in local adivasi tradition. Adivasi Moolnivasi Astitva Raksha Manch and Netarhat Firing Range Sangharsh Morcha together organised the public meeting in the village and briefed the activists about the issues.

 

“We have a tradition of resisting any kind of oppression and fight for our rights and dignity. Our leader Birsa Munda and others fought against the Britishers and East India Company’s repression. Taking inspiration from our leaders, we also successfully fought against Arcelor Mittal steel company. The language and adivasi culture are closely linked with Jal, Jangal, Jameen. CNT-SPT Act proved to be protecting our rights over resources”, said Dayamani Barla.

 

She also said that the current Govt and corporate nexus is trying hard to change the laws and grab our land and our resources. They have created land bank system which is actually a direct appropriation of our lands. In the name of Digitalisation of land records, our commons are getting lost. A 3-kms wildlife corridor is proposed here, through which the government is trying to evict people and destroy the symbiotic relationship between the community, forest and wildlife. Village leaders and adivasis are being put in jail and being blackmailed to part away from their land. How is the East India Company, Britishers, and Indian Govt is different? They were against aadivasis before and still doing the same.

 

Meera Sanghamitra said that the government is taking the wealth of the common people and letting the rich and corporate to accumulate. They are violating the directive principles of our Constitution which talks about working towards reducing the economic disparity. Raghubar Das, chief minister of the state, has wrongly made himself the head of the tribal council and is misusing the position to handover the tribal lands to corporations. Adivasis have lived in harmony with the nature since centuries. Govt. is letting the company to intrude in the forests conserved by the people here and destroy the dense and diverse forests along with rivers. The government has still not ready to recognize the rights of Gram Sabha in truest sense giving them the autonomy to decide for their own development. Our constitution has empowered Gram Sabhas higher than the Lok Sabha, which is still a distant dream in reality.

 

The government is taking route of communal conflicts. We must resist these attacks and fight to assert the peace and harmony again. We reject any kind of domination over the people by the state. The state must work with the people recognizing their rights over resources, over their own lives and livelihood.  

 

Lachragarh, Simdega

In the late evening, yatra visited the Lachragarh village where an 11-year old girl, Santoshi, died of starvation. Her family were denied the ration after making Aadhar mandatory for availing the PDS. Koyli Devi, mother of Santoshi, was also present in the meeting and expressed solidarity to the yatra.

 

Taramani, a Right to Food Campaign activist, said that she had been raising the issue of starvation deaths in the area since long time with the district administration but the government did not respond in time. Santoshi would have been alive if they would have listened to her and taken measures to provide food security to the villagers.

 

Prafulla Samantara from Lok Shakti Abhiyan said that industrialization is not going to solve our problems of hunger and poverty. We have to protect land and livelihood from corporate giants. Wherever the land has been taken for industries, it has never benefitted local people. Youth are still waiting for employment promised to them.

 

When Santoshi died, mother in law of Medha, a villager from Lachragarh village, was suspended on the false allegations that Santoshi had malaria and not treated by her. State have been brutal first in killing people in various ways and then subjecting others on false allegations.

 

Yatra is going to travel through various places in Odisha till 15th November and interact with movements in Niyamagari, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Bhuvneshwar etc. Leaders like Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Odisha; Gabriele Dietrich, Penn Urimay Iyakkam, Madurai, NAPM Tamil NaduRajendra Ravi, National Cyclists Union, NAPM DelhiAmitava Mitra, Transport Workers Union, NAPM West BengalSuniti SR, Tata, Lavasa, Wang Marathwadi Struggles, NAPM MaharashtraBhupendra Singh RawatJan Sangharsh Vahini, NAPM, DelhiSunita Rani, National Domestic Workers Union, New DelhiMeera Sanghamitra, NAPM Andhra Pradesh – TelanganaRohit, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Madhya PradeshVijay, Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS), Araria, BiharDoli, Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS), Araria, BiharZainab, Humsafar, Feminist group, Lucknow, Uttar PradeshAfroz Jehaan, Yuva Tarang, LucknowYuvaraj Gatkal, Activist, NAPM MaharashtraAbhishek, Student Activist, Vidrohi Group, KolhapurAkshit, Guhaar, New DelhiAman, Guhaar, New DelhiAnup, Dynamic Action, Kerala;Sameeksha, Activist, MaharashtraMashusudan, Social Activist, Ganjam Dist, OdishaAryaman, New DelhiAryan, Chandigarh, Punjab are travelling in the yatra.

In Jharkhand, Fr. Stan Swamy, Adivasi Rights and Human Rights Defender, BagaichaDayamani Barla, Adivasi Moolnivasi Astitva Raksha Samiti; Vasvi Kiro, Independent Journalist and Former Member, Jharkhand Women’s CommissionBasant Kumar Hetamsaria, NAPM JharkhandAshok Verma, NAPM JharkhandPrem Prakash Verma, Jharkhand Alternative Development ForumLeo Singh, Social Activist, RamgarhRaju Vishwakarma, Social Activist, JharkhandAloka Kujur, Independent Activist, WSS and NAPMVishwanath Azad, Hazaribagh; SharikBalram SinghSatish GuptaManjuAnnaAkash; and many others joined the yatra and extended their support and solidarity to the objectives of Yatra

 

Samvidhan Samman Yatra

 

We are standing at crossroads and passing through a critical juncture in India’s history and have a historical responsibility to save and salvage the ethos of this country, to fulfill the dreams of social, economic and political justice that Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar envisioned. There is an overwhelming urgency to come together, beyond diversity of perspectives, to safeguard the constitutional values and principles of humanity, based on social justice, liberty, equality, fraternity, scientific and rational thinking in the social psyche to deal with all these political, economic, social, cultural challenges. The need of the hour is to create understanding and tolerance in society, by peaceful, democratic and constitutional means. It is equally vital to aim for economic equity, social parity, environmental protection, sustainable development, establishment of people’s rights over access of resources and annihilation of caste and patriarchy.

 

It is with this urgency and spirit that National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has, after numerous discussions,  planned to embark on a Samvidhan Samman Yatra – a nationwide tour to restore and protect the core values of our Constitution and democracy, at a time when there is an all-out attack on the Constitution, people’s rights, livelihoods, environment and the spirit of diversity in the country, even as massive scams, resource loot and dilution of laws are taking place and farmers, workers,

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Comment (1)

  1. K SHESHU BABU

    The increase of repressive measures on adivasis and marginalised sections should be condemned

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