The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received an email from John P. Abraham, who is involved in the campaign that fights for the rights of the indigenous Adivasi tribals in India, calling for your urgent solidarity on this matter.
In his email, John P. Adraham said, “Once again we are approaching you with an appeal. We have experienced in the past that appeals to the authorities from friends like you can make a lot of difference¡¦. Please send your appeal to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra as soon as possible and ask him to look into the Adivasis’s demands and take speedy action to protect their rights.”
Brief reminder of the situation:
On 21 July 2003, about 100 police and the Maharashtra State Farming Corporation (MSFC) security personnel, destroyed about two hundreds huts of Adivasis – indigenous people – and more than a thousand acres of crops. No notice was given to these people. Several hundred adivasi children and women have been rendered homeless. The adivasi people have been fighting the MSFC for their legal rights to the land where they have lived for several decades.
The Maharashtra Agricultural Land (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, which came into effect in 1961, was intended to redistribute land among landless farmers. In Maharashtra and some other states, almost no land was successfully re-distributed. Instead, the government set up the MSFC and gave it cultivation rights to the land. However, the MSFC has never cultivated the 35,000 acres. Later, the State Farming Corporation pretended to sow the land, paradoxically, thousands of acres of land under the management of the State Farming Corporation are still lying fallow in this vicinity. Seeing the land lying fallow, Adivasis have in recent years have occupied it and staked a legal claim that is still pending before state authorities.
Meanwhile, a new amendment which will come into effect in 2003, enables the government to withdraw the land from the MSFC and grant any area of land usable for any “public purpose”. There is a strong likelihood that much of the land will return to the hands of the former landlords, and this will have a disastrous effect on those living on the land. However, the MSFC has started a brutal crackdown against the adivasi people by destroying their houses and crops.
An appeal on the right to the ownership of the land in question, filed by the Bhoomi Hakk Andolan Samiti (Land Rights Movement committee), is pending with the Revenue Commissioner at the Nashik Puntamba. Also, In 2001, the Aurangabad bench of Mumbai High Court, in response to the writ petition filed by Bhoomi Hukka Andolan Samiti, had asked the government officials to follow the Supreme Court ruling, which says that until the case is finally disposed off, the tribals shall not be evicted. Therefore, it is unjust to demolish the houses and rice fields of the Adivasis.
Please send a letter to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and request that he ensure that the huts of the tribals are not disturbed until the matter is finally disposed off as per the directions of the High Court in response to the writ petition filed by the adivasis.
The Adivasis are meeting the District Collector [district revenue head official] on 31 March 2004 and they will file an application in the local court regarding this matter on 1 April 2004. Also, they will put up huts on the land again on 1 April 2004. But nobody knows for how long it will be maintained until the next demolition by the police.
To see our previous urgent appeals regarding this case, please visit:
Please write a letter to the Chief Minister of the State of Maharashtra and express your concern about this case. A sample letter is attached below.
1. Shri Sushilkumar Shinde
Chief Minister of Maharashtra
6th floor, Office of the Chief Minister
Maharashtra 400 023
FAX: + 91 22 23633272 / 22029214
SALUTATION: Dear Chief Minister
With copies to:
1. Justice Shri Arivind Sawant
Maharashtra Human Rights Commission
Fax: +91 22 22885858
2. Vijay Sonkar Shastri
National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
c/o The National Human Rights Commission
Sardar Patel Bhavan
Sansad Marg, New Delhi – 110 001
FAX: +91 11 2334 0016
SALUTATION: Dear Commissioner
3. Mr. Jean Ziegler
Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
c/o Sally-Anne Way
Assistant to the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
IUED, 24, rue Rothschild
CP 136, CH 1211 Geneva 21
Fax: +41 22 90 65983
4. Mr. Miloon Kothari
Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing
c/o Ms. Lene Wendland
Room 4-041, UNOG-OHCHR,
CH-1211, Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 91 79299
Fax: +41 22 91 79010
To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER
Mr. Shri Sushilkumar Shinde
Chief Minister of Maharashtra,
6th floor, Mantralaya,
Mumbai, Maharashtra 400 023
Fax: +91-22 23633272/ 22029214
Dear Mr. Chief Minister Shri Sushilkumar Shinde,
RE: The Maharashtra State government should stop destroying the huts of the Adivasi tribals following the order of the High Court
I am writing to bring to your attention the 200 Adivasi families rendered homeless due to evictions in Rahata taluka, Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra on 21 July 2003.
An appeal on the right to the ownership of the land in question, filed by the Bhoomi Hakk Andolan Samiti (Land Rights Movement committee), is pending with the Revenue Commissioner at the Nashik Puntamba. Also, In 2001, the Aurangabad bench of Mumbai High Court, in response to the writ petition filed by Bhoomi Hukka Andolan Samiti, had asked the government officials to follow the Supreme Court ruling which states that until the case is finally disposed of, the tribals shall not be evicted. Therefore, it is unjust to demolish the houses and rice fields of the Adivasis. However, the state is forcibly destroying the huts of the Adivasis and is continually in violation of the High Cort order.
I strongly urge you to order the government officials to halt plans to destroy the huts of the Adivasi tribals in Rahata, Kopergaon and Shrirampur Talukas according to the order of the High Court in response to the writ petition filed by the Adivasis who occupied these lands. Their right to housing should be protected until the legal process is finished. I also request you to take immediate action to resolve the issue of land ownership, and to uphold justice and protect the civil liberty and human rights of the Adivasi people.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)