By Students of TISS, Mumbai
The Kerala society is witnessing another struggle by the Adivasi communities of the state in front of the Kerala government secretariat asserting their rights over the alienated land by ‘Standing- Up’ since 9th of July of this month. It indeed manifests the greater dissatisfaction and unsettlement among the marginalized communities of a so -called progressive state and its failure to cater to the demands of the weaker sections; particularly the Dalits and the Adivasis. A series of land struggles over the last few decades has time again proved that the Government can no longer ignore the question of land as an assertion of basic human rights of these communities otherwise have to enforce brutal violence to suppress these kinds of struggles as that happened in Muthanga and Chengara. The consensual ignorance towards the ongoing struggle from the part of the Kerala’s mainstream society and the media itself is the reflection that Adivasi issues are never a social issue in the state. If a democratic government can downgrade a certain section of its citizens into mere obstacles in the pathway of its future developmental process; not only it refutes the dictums of democracy but also nullifies the basic humanitarian aspects.
Despite of strong constitutional provisions to safeguard land, culture and traditions of the indigenous communities and legal entitlements for having self governance mechanisms; the state has paid little attention to such provisions. Tribal hamlets of Kerala are the pockets of poverty with high rates of malnourishment, lower life expectancy, high infant, child and maternal mortality rates. A community whose life and livelihood are intrinsically linked with the land and forest when alienated from these became extremely vulnerable in such a way that their very existence was in question. The Adivasis were left with no option but to fight for their own survival. Their demand to the government is to reconcile the injustice that was inflicted on them, right from land grabs to genocide that has been happening since decades.
To list the major ones
- To give the status of scheduled area to Kerala’s tribal area
- Restore the encroached and alienated tribal lands.
- Implement Forest rights Act
- To stop privatising Aaralam Farmland this was to be redistributed among the landless tribals.
- Justice and rehabilitation for Muthanga incident victims and their families.
- Special packages for the weakest sections, and to give ST status to the tribes who are not recognized as STs.
- To stop police reign and torture in the name of Maoist threats and connections.
We the student community of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, extend our support and solidarity to the ongoing struggle for justice towards the tribal land question in the state of Kerala. We urge the government of Kerala to immediately accept all the demands unconditionally.