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Adivasi leaders meet President alleging violation of economic, democratic rights

Leaders of various tribal organisations on Wednesday accused the BJP-led NDA Government of hurting "economic and democratic rights" of adivasis for the benefit of private players and called on President Pranab Mukherjee seeking his intervention on the issue.



New Delhi: Leaders of various tribal organisations on Wednesday accused the BJP-led NDA Government of hurting "economic and democratic rights" of adivasis for the benefit of private players and called on President Pranab Mukherjee seeking his intervention on the issue.

An 11-member delegation, led by CPI(M) Politburo member Brinda Karat, met Mukherjee and raised before him issues like "complete freeze" in implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA), reduction in tribal sub-plan (TSP) and introduction of land acquisition ordinance and mining laws, which they alleged, had affected the economic rights of adivasis.

The delegation also voiced concerns over alleged elimination of roles of gram sabha, which are enabled to self-govern natural resources under Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESAA), and under-provisioning of funds in the areas of education and employment of adivasis.

The delegation met the President when leaders of around 200 tribal organisations gathered here today for Adivasi Adhikar Sangharsh Sammelan, first such convention of tribals since the formation of Narendra Modi government last year.

"While economic rights of tribals are being attacked, on the other hand, provisions for democracy in tribal areas, which the Constitution guarantees, are being affected by elimination of role of gram sabha in tribal development.

"We raised the issue before the President. He said he will call a meeting of Governors and put this on agenda. The President admitted issue of tribal consent is very critical to tribal development," Karat said after meeting Mukherjee.

She said the organisations would also approach Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Jual Oram over these issues.

The convention passed resolutions demanding full implementation of PESAA and FRA, immediate release of "innocent" adivasis languishing in jails allegedly under false cases and restoration of importance of gram sabhas in all legislations around natural resource rights.

On economic rights, they demanded a law to earmark funds for TSP (supposed to be 8.6 pc of budget or Rs 40,000 crore) at Central and state-level and non-diversion of funds meant for scheduled tribes to other sectors.

They also sought provision for free education to tribals in adivasi areas, increasing allocations for scholarships and hostels, create vocational training facilities for STs.

"If the Government fails to fulfil the demands, we will have to unite and hit streets," JP Gavit, Maharashtra CPI (M) MLA, said addressing the convention.

Apart from representatives from 18 states including Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Tripura minister Manindra Reang, CPI(M) MPs from the north-eastern states Jitendra Chowdhury and Shankar Dutta also took part in the convention raising regional issues.

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