Seven Adivasi Families including Women Arrested Illegally
Brutal Use of State Power: Standing Crop Crushed
Gujarat govt. with centre’s support committing atrocities on adivasis
At least seven adivasi families are under custody arrested & kept in their own houses by the Gujarat Police & administration, since yesterday. In village Kevadia just 7kms away from the Sardar Sarovar Dam site & already affected by the projects since 1960’s women who were asserting that their agricultural land & houses shouldn’t be grabbed for Bharat Bhavan, without they getting the package of alternative land to the landholder and an amount of Rs.5 lakhs for the each adult major son in the family; were arrested by the police & taken to Tilakwada p.o. about 50kms away. While the women were released after a pressure was created by the crowd gathered at the p.o. & media covering the incidence, the JCB machines were brought to carry on their work, destroying even the standing crops of ‘Tuvar’. Such an unjust, destructive action continued overnight, smashing not just the crop & the land, but hearts of the adivasis who have been fighting for their survival since 1970’s and loss their livelihoods since 1961 itself.
The six villages with Kevadia being one of those, lost their land acquired for the Sardar Sarovar & project colony, at a meager rate of compensation in 1961 and all the adivasis Bhil (Tadis) families became either landless or left with small chunks of land. The land they lost was used for nine kinds of govt. guest houses, staff quarters, and colony, bazaar as well as tourism centers while some of it has been used for storage of material of the contractors, illegally diverting the purpose of acquisition itself.
When about 300 families, the original landholder’s struggle against the injustice imposed over years, we found that the number of families had gone up to 900 already. Only a few of them could get work at the dam site & other at the project office, mostly as temporary wage earners. Only the 300 were offered, after struggle a package of Rs. 36,000 in lieu of land. Many of them obviously rejected the same as meager amount, absolutely inadequate for purchasing alternative source of livelihood.
It was in 2013 that the Gujarat govt. taking cognizance of the antagonism to any further acquisition of land amongst the adivasis is the Kevadia region brought out a govt. resolution promising land for land and the above package applicable to the Bharat Bhavan project in Kevadia. However, these families who had already lost more than 100 acres in the 1960’s and 20 acres more for the Bharat Bhavan, were taken to show the land at three to four sites which they could not accept as the same was in dispersed in small pieces. in such a situation when the families where awaiting further offer from the govt. a sudden oppressive move by the administration with police force exposes the lack of political will to rehabilitate the adivasis and intension to grab their land. This model, if not questioned would certainly be applied by the BJP govt. in Gujarat to other private corporate projects planned to be brought into the same area.
It is not shocking but condemnable that the Gujarat govt. with obvious support from the centre is behaving in an utmost unjust manner committing atrocities on adivasis now.
The fight is on and it will continue to, till justice is attained.
We appeal to all sensitive supporters to write to the District Collectors, District Narmada, the Chief Minister of Gujarat as well as the Prime Minister himself.
Medha Patkar Devram Kanera Jikubhai Tadvi
Contact number: +91 91 79148973