Recommendations on Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996


The Recommendations of National Advisory Council on PESA and Scheduled Area passed on 21 December is provided below and also attached. Also accessible at http://nac.nic.in/pdf/pesa_31dec.pdf
National Advisory Council (NAC)
Recommendations on Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
Summary
The NAC recommendations consists of (1) Amendments to the Act (2) directions by the Union Government to the States and (3) suggestions to the Central Government. These are briefly as follows;
(1) Amendments to PESA 1996:
The proposal seeks to amend and elaborate on the law with a view to strengthen it and rectify some of the weaknesses in the existing law. The proposed amendments in brief, pertain to the following:
i. Providing list of definitions of key terms used in the Act for greater clarity;
ii. constitution of gramsabha at the hamlet level and power to constitute committees;
iii. mandating ‘prior informed consent’ as pre requisite for land acquisition and licensing for minor minerals;
iv. reinforcing the need to align Central and State laws in conformity with PESA;
v. enabling the State government to make rules;
vi. enabling the Centre to issue directions and
vii. provision for grievance redress under the Act.
(2) Directions:
Certain directions on major issues have been proposed to be issued by the Union Government under Proviso 3 of the Fifth Schedule as an interim measure. These need not await amendment to the Act and can be issued immediately for better implementation of the existing law. These pertain to the following areas:-
i. Aligning various laws in conformity with PESA to ensure autonomy of Gram Sabha and Panchayats in Scheduled Areas.
ii. Notification of list of hamlet/habitations to conduct gramsabha under the law
iii. Elaboration on powers of gramsabha to identify beneficiaries, approve plans, conduct social audit and increased accountability of government functionaries.
iv. Prevention of Land Alienation and Restoration of Illegally Alienated Lands.
v. Regulation of intoxicants for storage, manufacture and consumption.
vi. Control over Usurious Money Lending in the Scheduled Areas.
(3) Suggestions to GOI regarding:
i. Inclusion of tribal habitations hitherto not included under the Fifth Schedule.
ii. Central Govt. to expedite law on Provisions of the Municipalities (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Bill.
iii. Constitution of Special Task Force to review functioning of VI Schedule Areas and to suggest appropriate administrative arrangements for V schedule areas.

 1. Proposed amendments to PESA 1996 have been indicated in italics .

THE PROVISIONS OF THE PANCHAYATS (EXTENSION TO THE SCHEDULED AREAS) ACT, 1996 No.40 OF 1996

(24th December, 1996)

An Act to provide for the extension of the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution relating to the Panchayats to the Scheduled Areas.

Be it enacted by Parliament in the Forty-seventh Year of the Republic of India as follows:-

Short title

1. This Act may be called the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996

Definition

2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,

a) “Access Rights” means legal, traditional or admitted entitlements of an individual or community to sustainably use community resources and where relevant, enter into a territory defining or containing the resource.

b) “Alienation of land” means dispossession of land of an individual or community following transfer or change of ownership title or possession, or denial of access to land of any nature located within the jurisdiction of the Gram Sabha, whether to a scheduled tribe or to others.

c) “Community resources” include natural resources such as land, surface and ground water, forests, minerals, habitat and others, located within the territorial jurisdiction or the territorial domain of the community as determined by the Gram Sabha, including intellectual, socio-cultural and religious heritage of communities.

d) “Competent Authority” means a person or an institution as provided under the Rules for the purposes of this Act.

e) “Complaint” refers to any representation, whether oral or in writing, made to a competent authority regarding violation of provisions of the Act by a member/s of the Gram Sabha or the Gram Sabha itself.

f) “Cultural identity” is the recognition of an individual, group or community by virtue of belonging to or being part of a community based on a shared ancestry, history, culture, traditions, mores, beliefs, practices and institutions.

g) “Customary law” means traditional common law or rule or practice that sets an intrinsic standard of conduct of members of a community 

h) “Customary mode of dispute resolution” is the system of adjudication adopted by a community which is part of their culture, tradition and custom but not violating the principles of natural justice.

i) “Gram Sabha”, for the purpose of this Act, shall ordinarily comprise of the assembly of the residents of one or more hamlet/habitation, comprising a community and managing its affairs in accordance with traditions and customs within its respective territorial boundaries. This unit will ordinarily be below the revenue village and is not the same as Gram Sabha at the Panchayat level.

j) “Minor forest produce” is as defined under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006.

k) “Minor Minerals” is as defined under Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 where the term ‘building stones’ includes stones such as those used for construction of buildings, boundary walls, pavements, platforms, and wells.

l) “Minor water bodies” means any flowing, impounded or sub surface water and includes all water bodies as defined by the concerned State law.

m) “Money lending” means extending loans in any form for interest, with or without collateral, by individuals and institutions and includes informal advances.

n) “Panchayat at appropriate level” means the Gram Panchayat in whose area a particular resource is situated or the next higher tier namely the Intermediate Panchayat/Zilla Parishad if the resource in question is situated in more than one Panchayat or Intermediate Panchayat as the case may be.

o) “Prior Informed consent” means freely given written assent or agreement to permit an occurrence or to permit an act or to allow an occurrence only after a complete disclosure of facts needed to make the reasoned decision free from any coercion or inducement.

p) “Scheduled Area” means the Scheduled Areas as referred to in Clause (1) of Article 244 of the Constitution.

q) “Social sector” means all development and welfare activities and includes inter alia, health, education, water supply, transport, agriculture and allied activities, infrastructure, irrigation, management of natural resources such as water, forest, land, energy, welfare schemes and services, etc. provided by government and non-government entities.

r) “Traditional management practices” means normative systems of resource care and use adopted by a community to ensure beneficial and sustainable use of a community resource by and for all its members. 

s) “Zone of influence” means the geographical area whose social, economic, and/or environmental conditions are significantly affected by changes induced by the proposed project.

3. The provision of Part IX of the Constitution relating to Panchayats are hereby extended to the Scheduled Areas subject to such exceptions and modifications as are provided in section 4.

Exceptions and modifications to part IX of The Constitution

4. Notwithstanding anything contained under Part IX of the Constitution, the Legislature of the State shall enact enabling provisions and rules for effective exercise of the rights, duties and powers of the Gram Sabha as follows, and shall not make any law which is inconsistent with these rights, duties and powers:

(a) a State legislation on the Panchayats that may be made shall be in consonance with the customary law, social and religious practices and traditional management practices of community resources;

(b) the Gram Sabha shall ordinarily comprise of the assembly of the residents of one or more hamlets/habitations, managing its affairs in accordance with traditions and customs; such hamlets/habitations for this purpose will be notified in the manner as may be prescribed. The members of the Gram Sabha at the hamlet/habitation level will consist of persons whose names are included in the electoral rolls for the Gram Panchayat.

(c) the geographical access or jurisdiction of a Gram Sabha of the hamlet/habitation shall be deemed to extend to the traditional community resources like forest lands, cultivable fallows, grazing land, waste lands and water bodies that may have been so accepted by communities concerned according to their tradition which shall be demarcated by the Gram Sabha. This shall be recorded as a territorial rights or access rights, as the case may be, by the district revenue authorities and notified by the District Collector as the geographical jurisdiction and/ or access rights of the concerned village.

Provided that disputes concerning boundaries or access rights between neighbouring hamlets/habitations shall be referred to the Panchayat at the appropriate level/ competent authority as may be prescribed under the Rules by the concerned State governments for early settlement, after which the concerned records shall be corrected accordingly.

(d) (i) Gram Sabha at hamlet/habitation level may constitute Standing/ ad-hoc Committees from amongst their members for assisting the Gram Sabha in discharging different responsibilities.

(ii) The members of the Committees shall be chosen from among members of the Gram Sabha preferably by consensus in an open meeting of the Gram Sabha following such procedure as may be prescribed. 

(iii) Any village committee constituted under any statute, executive instruction of government, department or authority shall function under the control and direction of the Gram Sabhas in regard to the functions and areas under their jurisdiction.

(e) every Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and the customary mode of dispute resolution;

Provided that any person aggrieved by any decision of the Gram Sabha, or inaction on its part, or irregularity in the conduct of meetings or such like, can bring the matter before the Gram Sabha for review within such time limit as may be prescribed. An appeal shall lie with competent authority in such manner as may be prescribed under rules by the concerned State government. The decision of the appellate Authority shall then be final and binding on the parties and communicated in writing with reasons thereof.

(f) every Gram Sabha is empowered to:

(i) prepare a perspective plan of 5 years based on development needs and determine priorities of works/programmes to be undertaken. This will form the basis for annual plans under various government schemes and programs.

(ii) direct the Government agencies to submit the prioritized list of works/projects to be undertaken to the Gram Panchayat or Panchayats at appropriate level as well as list of beneficiaries as selected by Gram Sabha under various programmes and schemes within the hamlet/habitation to the Gram Sabha for prior approval of the Gram Sabha.

(iii) consider and approve plans, programs and projects for socio-economic development of all Government and Non-Government Agencies before they are taken up for implementation at the hamlet/ habitation level.

(iv) conduct regular social audit of works and programs taken up in the hamlet/habitation by any Panchayat, State or any other agency.

(g) every Panchayat at the village level shall be required to obtain from the Gram Sabha a certification of utilisation of funds by that Panchayat for the plans, programmes and projects referred to in clause(e);

(h) the reservation of seats in the Scheduled Areas at every Panchayat shall be in proportion to the population of the communities in that Panchayat for whom reservation is sought to be given under Part IX of the Constitution;

Provided that the reservation for the Scheduled Tribes shall not be less than one-half of the total number of seats;

Provided further that all seats of Chairpersons of Panchayats at all levels shall be reserved for the Scheduled Tribes;

(i) the State Government may nominate persons belonging to such Scheduled Tribes as have no representation in the Panchayat at the intermediate level or the Panchayat at the district level:

Provided that such nomination shall not exceed one-tenth of the total members to be elected in that Panchayat;

(j) (i) Prior informed consent of the Gram Sabhas and the concerned Panchayats at the appropriate level, affected by the proposed project or located in the zone of influence of any land acquisition project, shall be mandatory for the acquisition of any land in the Scheduled Areas for development projects falling within the jurisdiction of the concerned Gram Sabha, irrespective of the classification of land.

(ii) Prior informed consent of the Gram Sabhas and the concerned Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be mandatory regarding the rehabilitation and sustainable livelihood plan for persons affected by projects in the Scheduled Areas.

(iii) The procedure for prior informed consent in (i) and (ii) above and arriving at a decision shall be prescribed by the concerned State government under the Rules.

(iv) All decisions taken by the concerned Gram sabha/s and the concerned Panchayats at the appropriate level, and the decision taken by the Government or the concerned competent authority, with reasons thereof, shall be placed in the public domain by the concerned State Government ;

(v) Full facts about the project for which land is proposed to be acquired, its zone of influence, its economic, social and environmental impact and rehabilitation and sustainable livelihood plans shall be placed before the Gram Sabha while taking the consent of the Gram Sabha and Panchayats at the appropriate level, as the case may be, as provided in the rules.

Provided if at any point of time, it is found that the consent of the Gram Sabha was obtained through fraud, force, concealment, inducement or omission of information, then the Gram Sabhas and Panchayat at the appropriate level have the right to withdraw consent in whole or in parts as the case may be after due inquiry by competent authority in a time bound manner as prescribed under the rules.

(vi) (a) After the consent has been obtained, the acquiring agency shall mandatorily place before the Gram Sabha for its consideration, the progress of the rehabilitation and sustainable livelihood plan after every 3 months from the date of notification for land acquisition. 

(b) Upon the passage of a resolution from majority of the Gram Sabhas and Panchayats at the appropriate level stating that measures for rehabilitation and sustainable livelihood have not been observed as scheduled, the implementation of the project shall be halted, till the required rehabilitation and livelihood activities are completed. The Gram Sabhas shall be entitled to compensation for any damages incurred due to delays in rehabilitation.

(c) No displacement/relocation of the person/s from the project area which is proposed to be acquired shall be undertaken unless all facilities under the rehabilitation package are certified to be complete and functional at the site of resettlement by the Gram Sabha.

(vii) If the Gram Sabha concludes that the land has been used/transferred for purposes other than for which informed consent was sought/ acquired, and such a claim has been verified by a due process, then the Gram Sabha may inform the State Government its decision in writing to withdraw its consent. Where such withdrawal occurs, the residents of the Gram Sabha shall be entitled to civil damages for fraud and to institute criminal proceedings on the same basis.

(viii) The acquired land shall revert back to the Gram sabha in the event that the purpose for which land was acquired is changed or the project is not taken up within five years from the date on which consent is granted.

(k) The concerned Gram Sabha/s, or the appropriate Panchayats if the spread of the water body falls beyond more than one village, as the case may be, are empowered to plan and manage the minor water bodies in their areas.

(l) the prior informed consent of the Gram Sabha, and, if necessary, the Panchayats at the appropriate level depending on the area under consideration shall be made mandatory for any grant of prospecting license or concession for exploitation of minor minerals in any manner;

Provided if at any point of time, it is found that information provided is false or concealed, or is inaccurate, then the Gram Sabhas and Panchayat are at liberty to withdraw consent in whole or in part.

(m) while endowing Panchayats in the Scheduled Areas with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government, a State Legislature shall ensure that the Panchayats at the appropriate level and the Gram Sabha are endowed specifically with-

(i) the power to enforce prohibition or to regulate or restrict the sale and consumption of any intoxicant;

(ii) the ownership of minor forest produce;

(iii) the power to prevent alienation of land in the Scheduled Areas and to take appropriate action to restore any unlawfully alienated land of a Scheduled Tribe;

(iv) the power to manage village markets by whatever name called;

(v) the power to exercise control over money lending and curbing usury to protect the interests of members of Gram Sabhas as provided in the rules;

(vi) the power to exercise control over institutions and functionaries in all social sectors;

(vii) the power to control over local plans and resources for such plans including tribal sub-plans;

(n) the State Legislations that may endow Panchayats with powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government shall contain safeguards to ensure that Panchayats at the higher level do not assume the powers and authority of any Panchayat at the lower level or of the Gram Sabha;

(o) the State Legislature shall endeavour to follow the pattern of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution while designing the administrative arrangements in the Panchayats at district levels in the Scheduled Areas.

Continuance of existing laws on panchayats:

5. Notwithstanding anything in Part IX of the Constitution with exceptions and modifications made by this Act, any provision of any law relating to Panchayats in force in the Scheduled Areas, immediately before the date on which this amendment Act receives the assent of the President, along with extant rules and procedures which are inconsistent with this amended Act, shall be null and void unless brought in conformity before the expiration of one year from the date on which this amendment Act receives assent of the President;

Provided that other extant State subject Acts along with rules and procedures thereunder dealing with subjects covered under this amended Act, shall be null and void to the extent that they contravene this Act, unless brought in conformity within one year of this amendment taking effect.

Provided that Central Acts along with rules and procedures thereunder dealing with such subjects covered under this amended Act or parts thereof not in conformity with provisions of this amended Act, shall be brought in conformity within one year of this amendment taking effect.

6. The Central Government may, from time to time, issue general or special directions to the State Governments in writing for the effective implementation of the various provisions of this Act and the same shall be binding on the State Governments. 

7. The State shall have powers to notify rules for implementation of this Act. These shall be in conformity with Central directions issued, if any, under this Act.

8. Any member of Gram Sabha can complain on a decision or procedure adopted or action taken in violation of the provisions of this Act by the Gram Sabha, a Panchayat, or a government functionary or agency, or non governmental entities or an individual. The manner of inquiry into the complaint and grievance redressal procedure shall be provided under the rules prescribed by the concerned State. 

 

2. Directions to be Issued under Proviso 3 of the Fifth Schedule

I. Aligning State laws with PESA to ensuring autonomy of Gram Sabha in Scheduled Areas

Sec.4 (n) of PESA Act of 1996 requires that the Panchayats function as institutions of self-governance, for which it is necessary to ensure that the Panchayats at the higher level do not assume the powers and authority of any Panchayats at the lower level or the Gram Sabha. The intent of Section 4(n) is to ensure that the Gram Sabha and the Panchayats at the lower level are rendered functional by enabling provisions, appropriate rules, directions and guidelines that will facilitate efficacious exercise of the multiple powers conferred by PESA on the Gram Sabha.

The following are directions to be issued under Proviso 3 of the Fifth Schedule

1. All provisions in the State legislations, especially those related to Panchayats, that are inconsistent with the provisions of Sec.4 (n) are null and void as the provisions of the Central legislation shall prevail. Therefore, inconsistent provisions in the State laws are to be amended suitably.

2. All subject related laws covered under PESA, and their rules and procedures, of the State should be brought in conformity with the PESA Act, 1996, within a period of one year from the date of issue of directions.

II. Identification and declaration of ‘Village’ and its Geographical Jurisdiction

Section 4 (b) of PESA defines a ‘village’ as a habitation or a group of habitations, or a hamlet or a group of hamlets, comprising a community and managing its affairs in accordance with its traditions and customs and empowers the gram sabha as the assembly of the adults of the village. However, in a clear violation of PESA, the general Panchayat Raj structure has been adopted even in Schedule V areas, whereby the Gram Sabha of Gram Panchayat, usually spread over a number of habitations is being misconstrued to be Gramsabha under PESA. As the successful operationalisation of PESA hinges on adopting the operational definition of Gram Sabha and village, it is necessary that the identification of the ‘village’ and delineation of its geographical limits in conformity with PESA is done to enable it to function as envisaged under law.

Therefore, the following directions be issued under Proviso 3 of the Fifth Schedule

1) State Governments shall prepare and notify the list of hamlets (settlements) in every Panchayat for notification as “gram sabhas” for the purposes of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 within one year from the date of issue of this direction. Such Gram Sabha shall ordinarily comprise of the assembly of the residents of one or more hamlets, comprising a community and managing its affairs in accordance with traditions and customs within its territorial boundaries. This unit will ordinarily be below the revenue village and is not the same as gram sabhas at the panchayat level.

2) State governments shall devolve necessary powers and resources (both human and financial) to gram sabhas to enable them to undertake their roles and responsibilities in an effective manner through amendments in law, rules and

procedures in areas covered under PESA in addition to undertaking capacity building and training .

 

III. Powers to identify beneficiaries, approve plans, programmes and projects, control over institutions and functionaries and issue of utilization certificate

Sections 4(e) (i) and (ii), 4(f), and 4(m) (vi) and (vii) of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 confers the power to approve the plans, programmes and projects for social and economic development to the Gram Sabha, before such plans, programmes and projects are taken up for implementation by the Panchayat at the village level. The Gram Sabha is additionally empowered to identify and select beneficiaries under the poverty alleviation and other programmes. Gram Sabha is also empowered to control local plans and resources for such plans including tribal sub-plans, and exercise control over institutions and functionaries in all social sectors; and issue certification of utilisation of funds to the Panchayat for the plans, programmes and projects. However, notwithstanding the clear provisions of the Act, most of the said powers are not conferred de jure and de facto on the Gram Sabha

In order to effectively carry out these powers and responsibilities, the following directions are to be issued under Proviso 3 of the Fifth Schedule

(1) The Gram Sabha is the Competent Authority for identification of beneficiaries for development programmes and select them accordingly;

(2) The list of works/projects to be undertaken by the government agencies and non-government agencies in the village along with complete details, such as their relevance, full financial details, details of the work/projects including technology to be used, participation of local work force, role of contractors, etc. shall be submitted to the Gram Sabha by the Gram Panchayat or Panchayats at appropriate level; and their approval shall be obtained from the Gram Sabha prior to granting sanction to the plan or project.

(3) The Gram Sabha shall conduct regular social audit of works/projects and programs taken up by any Panchayat, State or any other agency in their area and its findings shall be sent to the Gram Panchayat and to the concerned Government agency for necessary action;

(4) All agencies undertaking any work within the village shall apply for certification to the Gram Sabha together with documentary proof of expenditureand mandatorily obtain certification of utilization of all funds and works undertaken from the Gram SabhaThe Gram Sabha will issue such certificate after inspection and verification of the work ;

(5) Any objection pertaining to the quality of the work or expenditure, etc. may be placed before the Gram Sabha. The Gram Sabha may examine the issue and give proper instruction for improvement and its decision will be final;

(6) The Gram Panchayat and its committees will work under the general direction of the Gram Sabha and be accountable to the Gram Sabha in respect of services and programmes for that area. Any enquiry into the functioning of the Gram Panchayat or any functionary will be conducted after consulting the concerned Gram Sabha(s). The findings and results of the enquiry shall be presented before the Gram Sabha before being finalized and forwarded for proper action;

(7) The Gram Sabha shall review all social sector schemes, institutions and functionaries functioning in the village whether governmental or non-governmental;

(8) On completion of any programme, the complete details thereof will be produced before the next meeting of Gram Sabha. The Gram Sabha may constitute special Committees, call for their training to fulfill their responsibilities and seek assistance of experts to assist in its reviews;

(9) Instructions of the Gram Sabha, including imposition of penalties, steps to improve the implementation of social sector schemes, performance of functionaries and delivery of services shall be complied with by the concerned functionaries.

IV. Land Alienation and Restoration of Illegally Alienated Lands

Ownership and secure access to land is very important for the wellbeing of the tribal people and land alienation is arguably the most important reason for their disaffection. Studies show that the administration has been ineffective in protecting the corpus of tribal lands and hence section 4(m) (iii) of PESA empowers the community to protect the land resources and habitations of Scheduled Tribes in Scheduled Areas, while Sec.4 (d) additionally recognizes the competence of the Gram Sabha to safeguard community resources and both individual and collective rights to land. The Gram Sabha is empowered to take prompt and appropriate action to protect the corpus of tribal lands, prevent alienation of tribal land and take efficacious steps to restore alienated land of a member of the Scheduled Tribe, acting singly or with the support of the Revenue Authorities.

All land transfers to non tribals have been banned in the Scheduled areas of Andhra Pradesh by Regulation No 1 of 1970 of the Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Areas Land Transfer Regulation, 1959, which has effectively reduced tribal land alienation. Further, the principle underlying the Samata Judgement affirms that land in the PESA areas serves the interests of the tribals. Protection of the corpus of tribal land, restraint on unlawful alienation or acquisition and efforts to ensure that gains from the land accrue to the tribal people is the clear intention of the Constitution, Laws and Regulations of the States and judicial pronouncements.

It is proposed that following directions be issued under Proviso 3 of the Fifth Schedule for incorporation in the Land Revenue Code of the State and other related land laws to enable gram sabhas to carry out these powers and responsibilities pertaining to prevention of land alienation and powers of restoration of alienated tribal land.

Protection of the Corpus of Tribal Land and Prevention of its Alienation

(1) Any transfer of immovable property situated in the Scheduled Area by a person, whether or not such person is a member of a Scheduled Tribe, shall be absolutely null and void, unless such transfer is made in favour of a person, who is a member of a Scheduled Tribe or a society registered or deemed to be registered under the Co-operative Societies Act of the State which is composed solely of members of the Scheduled Tribe (1);

1 Adopted from Sec.2(1)(a) inserted by Regulation No 1 of 1970 to the Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Areas Land Transfer Regulation, 1959

(2) The following shall be included in the provisions in the Land Revenue Code of the States and laws related to alienation and restoration of tribal land requiring

(a) the Revenue Department to make an inventory of all lands in the possession of the tribals and ensure expeditious securing of appropriate titles under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 or Land Revenue Codes or relevant land laws, as the case may be;

(b) the Revenue Department to ban all sale, transfer or lease, in the Fifth Schedule areas without the express prior informed consent of the Gram Sabha;

(c) mandatory intimation from the Revenue Authorities and individual or non governmental entities to the Gram Sabha in writing through the Gram Panchayat of any proposed sale or transfer including lease, mortgage of any land/transaction in the village;

(d) mandatory provision of providing all relevant revenue records sought by the Gram Sabha concerning the proposed sale, transferor lease of the land within 30 days of such request in writing;

(3) Every State having Scheduled Area shall constitute a ‘Land Consolidation Fund’ (LCF). Part of this fund shall be allocated at the district level to a designated authority to be notified by the State Government. The designated authority shall release necessary fund to the Gram Sabha for purchase of any land within its jurisdiction in the manner prescribed below. The LCF shall exclusively be used for enabling the Gram Sabhas in the Scheduled Area for the following purpose:

(a) purchase at market price of any land falling within the jurisdiction of the concerned Gram Sabha owned by any resident whether a Scheduled Tribe or not, and who is desirous of selling his/her land and has made a request in writing to the Gram Sabha;

(b) the land thus purchased shall be in the name of the Gram Sabha of the concerned habitation;

(c) the said land shall be put to use for common purpose by the concerned Gram Sabha;

(d) the Gram Sabha may allocate such land, partly or wholly as the case may be, to any landless Scheduled Tribe of the habitation with enjoyment rights;

(e) the Gram Sabha shall cancel such enjoyment rights if need be and reallocate the same to another landless Scheduled Tribe of the habitation or utilise the same for the common community needs;

(f) The Record of Rights with respect to such land shall be in the name of the Gram Sabha. 

Restoration of Alienated Tribal Land

(1) A clear and explicit provision be made in the Revenue Law and other relevant laws to include such provisions in the Land Revenue Code of the State and laws related to alienation of tribal land that

(a) confer power on the Gram Sabha to act suo motu or on a complaint from a member of the gram sabha to restore the alienated tribal land;

(b) authorize the Gram Sabha to call for all relevant revenue records concerning the alienation of such land to be provided within 30 days of such request;

(c) empower the Gram Sabha to conduct a hearing and order restoration of the land back to the concerned member of the Scheduled Tribe;

(d) The Gram Sabha may direct or seek the assistance of the Police in restoration of the land, if it so desires.

(2) Gram Sabha shall inform the orders of restoration to the Sub-Divisional Officer who shall ensure restoration within a period of three months, intimate the same to the Gram Sabha and direct appropriate entries in the Record of Rights.

(3) The Gram Sabha may constitute a Standing Committee from among its members and call upon the Revenue Authorities to train such members in all matters related to the maintenance of records and the exercise of the powers mentioned above.

 

V. Regulation of intoxicants

Sec.4 (m) (i) confers the Gram Sabha with ‘the power to enforce prohibition or to regulate or restrict the sale and consumption of any intoxicant’. Intoxicants, particularly liquor, have been an instrument for usurpation of resources, particularly land, in the tribal habitations with devastating effect on the lives of the Adivasis, particularly women and children. Hence empowering the Gram Sabha with the power to regulate intoxicants is critical to ensuring that the community has direct control and responsibility over this matter.

In order to effectively carry out these powers and responsibilities, the following directions are to be issued under Proviso 3 of the Fifth Schedule

(1) The Gram Sabha shall have the powers to grant or deny permission for brewing indigenous/ traditional inebriants for sale, and establishment of a factory to manufacture intoxicants, and will have powers to regulate collection, storage, sale and use of intoxicants within its territory; 

(2) The Gram Sabha shall have powers to regulate existing shops or outlets vending intoxicants in the village and direct the competent authority to close any shop or outlet operating in violation of any law ;

(3) No permit to start a factory may be issued by Government without the consent of all Gram Sabhas in the area; and

(4) Agreement of fifty percent of women present in the Gram Sabha meeting is necessary in all decisions concerning manufacture, sale and consumption of intoxicants.

VI. Control over Money Lending in the Scheduled Areas

Usurious money lending has been the single most important cause of impoverishment and exploitation of the tribal people after these areas were opened up by the British.Usurious money lending has been major cause of dispossession of land and resources of the tribal people, leading to widespread distress and disaffection. It is in this light that PESA seeks to empower the Gram Sabha, to regulate money lending and usury.

In order to effectively carry out these powers and responsibilities, the following directions are to be issued under Proviso 3 of the Fifth Schedule

(1) To include such provisions in concerned State laws, rules or procedures to

(a) Confer power on the Gram Sabha to act suo motu or on a complaint from a member of the gram sabha concerning usurious money lending by any individual or institutions and to direct the competent authorities to cancel the licence of the offending money lender/ institutions and take necessary civil and criminal action as the case may be ; and

(b) Conduct a hearing and order restoration of the monies or interest or mortgaged/ unlawful alienation /conditional sale of property back to the concerned member of the aggrieved member of the Gram Sabha;

(2) Regulate Money Lending by declaring that:

(a) levying of ‘compound’ interest by any money lender, whether individual or institutions on loans given to members of Scheduled Tribes is illegal;

(b) no moveable or immovable property of a Scheduled Tribe shall be alienated in lieu of recovery of loan or interest.

(c) All licences for money lending by individuals to be subject to issue of no objection certificate by the concerned Gram Sabhas in its jurisdiction.

3. OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS TO CENTRAL GOVERNMENT

I. Inclusion of tribal habitations hitherto not included under the Fifth Schedule

Fifty to seventy percent of the STs live outside the Scheduled Areas and hence are denied rights provided in Article 244. The Bhuria Committee rightly observed that the present-day administrative boundaries of the Scheduled Areas were determined during colonial times based on colonial compulsions. The earlier boundaries were modified without paying attention to the fragmentation of contiguous communities living in contiguous areas with the result that tribal communities are continuously being reduced to a minority population, be it the State, district or block and thereby making them marginal in every way.

Various committees had recommended that habitations that have been left out be included and the anomaly rectified. Further, recommendations to make the Tribal Sub-Plan areas coterminous with Vth Schedule Areas has not been implemented, entirely due to political and administrative apathy and neglect, thereby excluding large numbers of tribal habitations. This situation prevails even after the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 1976 (101 of 1976), which required states to include hitherto tribal habitations. But no tribal habitations in the States of Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh have been included under the Vth Schedule as Scheduled Area.

The provisions of the Fifth Schedule under Article 244(1)2 are applicable not only to the administration and control of Scheduled Areas,but also to the Scheduled Tribes. PESA, as the extension of the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution to the Scheduled Areas cannot be applied to close to 70% of the tribal regions in the absence of their inclusion. Hence it is appropriate to call upon the State governments to make fresh proposals to bring tribal areas under the Vth Schedule.

2 Article 244. Administration of Scheduled Areas and Tribal Areas

(1) The provisions of the Fifth Schedule shall apply to the administration and control of the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in any State other than the States of Assam Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram

In order to effectively carry out the inclusion of tribal areas under the Vth Schedule to the Constitution, it is recommended that:

States to list out all villages whose Scheduled Tribe population is over 50 percent as per 2011 census and prepare proposal for their inclusion in Scheduled areas to the President. A Special Task Force may be constituted by the Government of India to facilitate and to expedite process of notification by the President of all proposals received from states for inclusion in Scheduled Areas.

II. Upgradation of Panchayats to Municipalities in Scheduled Areas

Numerous Panchayat areas are being upgraded/ converted as municipal/urban areas in the Scheduled Area and it is being argued that PESA is no longer applicable in these areas. This has happened in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, and has resulted in cases being filed in courts. The Chhattisgarh High Court declined to stay the elections to the newly formed urban Panchayat. The Jabalpur High Court stayed elections to 52 District Panchayats and municipalities in 26 districts having Scheduled Areas. In September 2009, the court held the Panchayati Raj Act did not apply to Scheduled Areas and said that the Parliament should enact a suitable law extending 74th Amendment to urban areas in Scheduled Areas. There is also a case pending in Maharashtra. More PESA areas can be expected to be upgraded, taking those out of the purview of PESA and these will exist in a constitutional vacuum and unlawfully brought under the purview of the general municipal law.

The Second Bhuria Committee Report concerning the Extension of the Provisions of the 74th Amendment to Urban Local Bodies in the Scheduled Areas was tabled in Parliament on 19 July, 1995 making a number of observations and recommendations. The Provisions of the Municipalities (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Bill 2001 based on the aforesaid Report as well as the comments from the central ministries and the concerned State governments having Scheduled Areas, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 30th July 2001 and was referred to the Standing Committee on Urban and Rural Development on 6 August 2001. The Standing Committee submitted its report and recommendations in November 2003 as its Fifteenth Report. However the Union Government is yet to introduce a suitable law for the administration of Municipal Areas in Scheduled Areas. The result is that the Panchayat areas within the Scheduled Areas are being upgraded into Municipal Areas and taken out of the purview of PESA provisions without the mandatory alternative protective provision extending the 74th Amendment to the Municipal Areas in place and thus creating a legal infirmity. This needs to be rectified.

It is recommended that:

The Union Government takes steps to introduce the revised Provisions of the Municipalities (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Bill in the Parliament at the earliest in such a manner that the interests of the Scheduled Tribes are not adversely affected.

III. Structures above the Gram Sabha at district level in Scheduled Area

Sec.4 (o) of PESA requires that the State Legislature provide the pattern of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution while designing administrative arrangements in District Panchayats in the Fifth Schedule Areas. At present this has not been adhered to and on the contrary the efforts are to assimilate, integrate or subsume tribal habitations/villages and their Gram Sabhas in the Scheduled Areas into the prevailing Panchayat Raj system operating in the area outside the Scheduled Area where the Panchayat structure dominates rather than the Gram Sabha as envisaged in PESA.

It is recommended that:

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs along with the Ministry of Panchayat Raj jointly constitute a Special Task Force of persons with the expertise on tribal matters to study the functioning of the Fifth and Sixth Schedules and laws related to the tribal people and recommend appropriate administrative arrangement for Vth Schedule Areas within one year.

 

Attack On Dalits Of Dharmapuri: A Fact Finding Report


pic- courtesy — The hindu

 

 

By Dr Anand Teltumbde (For the Fact Finding Committee)

 

06 December, 2012

Countercurrents.org

 

On 7 November 2012 as the sun set to retreat from the Naikkankottai sky the world of Dalits symbolizing their toil of years, sacrifice, and aspirations was reduced to rubble and ashes by a marauding mob of the caste Hindus within hours. While caste atrocity was not unknown to Tamil Nadu, the state that has dubious distinction of having exemplified the new genre of atrocities stemming not from the ancient code of Manu but the modernist code of political economy unleashed in the name of Nehruvian socialism in the form of Kilvenmani in 1968 down to caste clashes in Paramkudi, what astonished the world was the locale of this gory incident and the manner in which it was executed. Naikkankottai was known for years as the hub of the naxalite movement in the state, with almost all its residents, Dalits as well as non-Dalits either directly participating as comrades or actively sympathetic to them. As the imposing memorial of Comrades Appu and Balan, who were encountered by the police in 1979 right at the entrance of the village seemed to assure, these people would not fall to their baser instincts to have caste conflicts like their counterparts elsewhere in the state. The apparent cause of an inter-caste marriage between a Dalit boy and Vanniyar girl that seemed to trigger the incident was not convincing in the face of the fact that there have been literally hundreds of such marriages in the Area in the past that continued even after the 7 November incident. What caused this ugly incident, which would rank among the worst caste atrocities in the country has been the main issue before the team.

 

Generally, the fact finding teams by the civil rights activists rush to the site of incidence immediately after the incident and bring forth the facts to the attention of public. We have deliberately resisted this temptation and delayed our visit for the reasons that the salient facts of the case were already published by the news papers and other fact finding teams. What we wanted to know was what the forces behind these facts were. This could be better known after some cooling off of the initial reactions. The responses of people are relatively more objective than immediately after the incident. Therefore we visited the area on 21 and 22 November 2012. The team comprised the following members:

 

· Adv. Murugan, Secretary, CPCL

· Prof. Kochadai

· K. Kesavan, CPCL

· Gopal Sundararajan, CPCL

· Adv. Sudhakar, CPCL, and

· Dr Anand Teltumbde, CPDR, Mumbai

 

The bare facts of the incident were as follows:

 

The girl named Divya, 20, belonged to Chellankottai near Naikankottai. She was studying for her B Sc (Nursing) in third year in a Dharamapuri college. The boy named Ilavarasan, 23, was from Natham. He had studied up to 10th standard and was reportedly just selected in the state police.

 

They had a love affair for some time but their parents feigned ignorance. When a proposal for Divya came from a boy of the same (Vanniyar) caste, who was employed with a salary of Rs 35,000 a month, Divya’s parents wanted to accept it but Divya did not. She declined it saying she would not get married till she finished her education. The boy was prepared to wait. However, soon thereafter she and Ilavarasan secretly married around 8 October. It slowly leaked to the village including the girl’s parents. Although girl’s parents were not happy with the marriage as reportedly the boy did not have a good reputation, was not educated enough to be a match to Divya, did not have sound economic background, and was in the neighboring locality (to be constant embarrassment), they did not have visible reaction. There were number of inter-caste marriages that happened in the village, both ways, which were accepted by both the sides.

 

However, there was a caste meeting that took place about a month before the marriage in which Kaduvetti J. Guru, a local MLA belonging to Paattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) gave a call that inter-caste marriages should not be accepted and whosoever dared to defy it should be done to death. Of late, the Vanniyars had been having this kind of campaign among them. This impelled them to call a Panchayat meeting on 3 November, which took place in the morning at the Appu-Balan’s memorial across the Dharamapuri-Thiruputur highroad that edged past the village. The meeting for the first time portended some ugly turn to the events. Some people vociferously gave an ultimatum to the Dalits that they should restore the girl to her parents within two days else they would face dire consequence. Dalits fearing some untoward occurrence requested police protection, which was granted by posting some 20 policemen at the village on 5 November.

 

On 7 November, when Divya’s father, Nagaraj learnt of the girl’s resolve that she would not come back, he committed suicide in mysterious circumstances. Some people, led by those who shouted threats in the meeting, immediately used his dead body to mobilize Vanniyars to attack the three Dalit colonies, Natham, Anna Nagar and Konampatti. The attack was unique; in sense it spared people of any bodily harm and only targeted their property. In all 268 houses were looted and then set on fire. Valuable assets such as motorbikes, cycles, refrigerators, television sets, almirahs in most houses were damaged and burnt. All of their inmates were reduced to penury as all their savings were either looted or burnt to ashes. The government had set up sheds as temporary shelter for them and erected pandals for kitchen. Each family was given Rs 50,000 as compensation.

 

The Interviews with Activists

M. Chakkarai, Marwadi village, ex-Panchayat Board President, now a Councilor on the Union (body of many Panchayats), representing his Panchayat, was himself a Dalit and politically belonged to DMK. The Panchayat is reserved for Dalits. He had played a significant role as mediator between Dalits and the caste Hindus, who were seemingly agitated over the subject inter-caste marriage. He narrated his mediation as below:

 

Nagaraj had informed him to participate in the Panchayat meeting on 3 November morning near the Com. Appu-Balan’s memorial. When he went, there were about 40 people. Within minutes, the crowd swelled to around 200 people. Most belonged to the Vanniyar caste and about 15 were the Paraiyars, Dalits. At the Panchayat meeting, the passions ran high among the Vanniyars. They shouted to get the girl back. Chakkarai tried to pacify them saying that they had come there to settle the issue and hence they should exercise patience. He reasoned out that the whereabouts of the married couple was not known and they needed to find it out. They would consult the parents of the girl and boy, speak with the girl herself and decide the matter amicably. However, still the Panchayat decided to issue an ultimatum to Dalits to return the girl within two days.

 

The next day, Chakkarai went to Natham colony and met with some people. He recalled some names as Dorai, Chinnavan, Mariyan, Sankar, Shivraj. He proposed to speak with Elangovan, the boy’s father, to know the whereabouts of the couple. He met Mathialagan, ex-President of the Vellalapatti Panchayat who belonged to PMK, and asked him to meet with Nagaraj. Mathialagan declined saying that he was instructed by his party not to intervene in this matter. He said that Nandan of Vidhuthalai Chiruthalaigal Katchi (VCK) had spoken with Saravanan, State Dy General Secretary of the PMK and learnt that even he was (had) instructed not to intervene in the matter. Chakkarai said that when approached Mathialagan, his (Mathialagan’s) wife told him that Mathialagan was already involved in other cases and therefore he (Chakkarai) should himself talk to Nagraj and not involve Mathiialagan. Accordingly, Chakkarai spoke with Nagaraj.

 

On 7 November, it was decided to meet the girl, whose whereabouts were known to Elangovan, who worked in a Dharmapuri hospital. Nagaraj’s brothers – Jagannathan and Balan met with Elangovan who promised to arrange for their meeting with the girl. Nagaraj declined to come and instead sent the ladies. They all, along with Pota Palaniswamy, Pota Dorai, Shakthivel (village head of Natham), Shivragi, Chinnavan, Shankar, Elangovan, with girl’s family went in a single van to Toppur (near Kattamedu) close to Malayappan Nagar at around 1.30 PM. At Kottamedu (forest area), some 15 boys brought the girl on two wheelers. Dvya’s family spoke with her. Divya said that she had willingly married with Ilavarasan and would not go back. The family knew that they were in love for the last two years. Since her father wanted to marry her off to someone else, she had decided to marry the boy she loved. Jagannathan, Shankaran and Balan reacted saying that the girl’s parents should be punished with lashes. Chakkarai separately met the girl to reach the final conclusion. She reiterated her resolve not to return even to him. She clearly expressed her fear that if she returned, they would kill her. Chakkarai concluded and told the people that since the girl was firm, nothing could be done.

 

He sent back the girl’s family in an auto rickshaw at 3 pm. Before they reached home, Nagaraj was dead. At 3.30 pm Chakkarai got to know on his cell phone from his friend Chellan, who belonged to Vanniyar caste that Nagraj had hanged himself and there was a commotion there. Chellan asked him to come back. Accordingly Chakkarai started off to Chennamdkuppam, where Chellan stayed. He got another call informing him that a lot of people had gathered along with Nagraj’s body. At 3.40 pm, Shiva called him up informing him that Vanniyars have gone to Dalit colonies and began arson.

 

Kamlesh whose sister is married to a brother of Thenmozhi, wife of Nagaraj told us that when they went to meet the girl, a call came from Nagaraj to his wife. Possibly she narrated what happened through the discussion with Divya. It was 2.52 pm, as seen by Kamlesh’s sister in Thenmozhi’s cell. The call was attended by Kalaiselvi, Thenmozhi’s sister and wife of Nagaraj’s elder brother. Kamlesh had suspicion about Nagaraj’s death on two reasons: one, As he learnt from Thenmozhi, when she reached home, the door was open and the inside was dark. She found that Nagaraj was standing below the wooden beam with a rope around his neck tied to the beam. Pachiappan (the DMK counselor, who most vociferous in the Panchayat meeting demanding the girl be brought back), had taken the body to the courtyard.

 

James, an activist of the Anti-Imperialist Movement informed that after the threatening voices in the Panchayat meeting, Dalits had given a written complaint and asked for police protection. Accordingly, some 20 odd policemen were posted at the colonies. But before the mob attacked the colonies these policemen went round warning the people of Natham colony of the imminent attack by Vanniyars and to vacate their houses. Accordingly, people had fled away from the scene.

 

On the inter-caste marriage, the activists collectively opined that it could not be the cause of such a huge incident. They said in chorus that there were over a hundred such marriages in the surrounding villages and over a thousand in the Dharmapuri district. Chinnatambi, a dalit had married a Vanniyar girl in 1987, when Vanniyar Sangham was at its peak but there was no problem just because there was a strong naxalite movement then.

 

Chakkarai and others named some people who were vehement in the Panchayat: Pachiappan (ex-counselor belonging to DMK), Lorry Madhu of Chengalmedu village belonging to PMK, Chellangottai Murugan, (who was once in Radical Youth League (RYL), a youth organization affiliated with the then PWG but now in AIADMK), Kaniyapatti Raja and Kathirrnayakhalli Vediyappan belonging to AIADMK.

 

Vanniyars and Paraiyars

Dharmapuri district, situated in the north western corner of Tamil Nadu is bounded by Thiruvannamalai and Villupuram Districts on the East, Salem District on the South, Krishnagiri District on the north and Kaveri river on the West. The District economy is mainly agrarian in nature; nearly 70% of the workforce being dependent on agriculture and allied activities. The district is one among most backward and drought prone area in the state. Naickenkottai came in the Krishnagiri district after the division of Dharmapuri district.

 

Based on the analysis of the available data on landholding [Size Class-wise Number and Area of Operational Holdings (in the then) Dharmapuri District of Tamil Nadu (2000-2001) provided in IndiaStat], the Dalits hold negligible, i.e., just 1.31% of the cultivable land. In terms of landholding, they preponderate in marginal class (0-1 ha) at the maximum of 6.4%. The percentage comes down as the holding size rises. In small holding class (1-2 ha), it is 5.66%; in semi-medium (2.4 ha), it is 3.2 %; in Medium (4-10 ha), it is 1.7 % and in Large (above 10 ha), it is 0.9 %. The respective percentage of landholding goes on rising with the landholding size for others. In their case, for the above classes of landholding, it is 92.27, 92.70; 95.53; 97.47 and 98.82 % respectively. In the subject villages, a few Dalits had land. While most Dalits had been working in Bengaluru and Coimbatore either as self employed with such jobs like scrap dealing or in construction industries, the womenfolk went for farm wages on Vanniyar farms.

 

The Vanniyars who concentrate in the districts of North Tamil Nadu, were agricultural labourers and from the second half of the nineteenth century promoted themselves as the Padayachis (soldiers) and in the second stage raised themselves as Vahannikula (fire race) Kshatriyas abbreviated to be Vanniyars. Their ancient history is rather connected with the great Buddhist society existed up to the tenth century in Tamil Nadu. Their absorption into the Brahmanic society is phased over a period of last 400 years. As per historian Sadasivan, Vanniyars are the only people who formulated an ideology and wrote a history of achieving their proversion. As early as 1870 they had brought out a book to prove that they were descendent of Agnikula Rajputs and that they were in the remotest past, the shepherd kings of Egypt. In 1891 to convince the census authority a Vanniyar by name T Aiyakkana Naicker had written another book entitled Vannikulavillakam (the light of the fire race) to establish that Vanniyars were Khatris. Another thesis Varna-Darpana (mirror of varna) published in 1907 sought to elevate the Pallis (another name of Vanniyars) as the descendent of the Pallavas of Kanchipuram. With the revival of Brahmanism, the Buddhist people were deprived of their land and forced to serfdom to cultivate the same land of which they themselves were peasant proprietors. The destiny of Vanniyars also changed in process. Their name Palli is Pali in origin, was associated with the Buddhist social life signifying the sanctified or the sacred. It was made derisive appellation in Tamil, largely by the anti-Buddhist forces.[1][2]

 

Today they may be marginally different from Dalits, Vanniyars are classed under the MBCs (most backward classes) and are the largest community, accounting for about 53 per cent of their population, and probably the least backward among them. Unlike Thevars, the Vanniyars organized movement began much later when Dr S Ramdoss, their leader formed the Vanniyar Sangam in 1980. The continuous protests the Vanniyar Sangham launched in 1980s had forced the DMK government led by M. Karunanidhi to institute a 20 per cent reservation for the 107 communities including the Vanniyars as the ‘most backward classes’ in education and employment in 1989. During the movement 21 persons were killed in police firing. Thereafter, Ramdoss formed a political party styled as Paattali Makkal Katchi. There were violent clashes between Dalits and Vanniyars in Cuddalore and North Arcot and South Arcot districts. But soon Ramdoss tried to create a coalition of MBCs, Muslims and Dalits to win political power and hence projected himself as the friend of Dalits, speaking in Dalit functions and inaugurating Ambedkar statues at many places. Later, with the emergence of Thol Thirumavalavan as the leader of the Dalit Panthers, which changed its name to Vidhuthalai Chiruthalaigal Katchi, and match between the two leaders on some common ideological positions — on Tamil nationalism and reservation — and the personal chemistry between Dr Ramadoss and Mr. Thirumavalavan seemed to ensure a measure of amity. The two worked together on various platforms, even when they were not part of the same political alliance. The VCK conferred titles like ‘Tamil Kudithaangi’ and ‘Ambedkar Sudar’ on Dr. Ramadoss.

 

It is significant that for the first time Thirumavalavan has openly come out against the PMK as having instigated violence in Dharmapuri.

 

Visit to Dalit Hamlets

The first village right on the road from Dharmapuri to Thiruputtur, is Natham, where the orgy had begun. The people of Natham told us that a crowd of 1000 to 1500 had assembled at the picketing area on the main road immediately after the dead body of Nagaraj was brought there. While bringing the body from Chellankottai, the hamlet to which Nagaraj belonged, the crowd attacked and ransacked the house of Ilavarasan that fell on the way to the main road. The 15-20 policemen posted at Natham since two days on the request of Dalits just stood by. Earlier the village Panchayat had met thrice on the 17 and 18 October at the behest of Divya’s parents to know her whereabouts. The panchayat meeting was headed by Mathiazhagan of the Chellankottai Panchayat. Panchayat leaders from nearby 15 villages were also invited but only village heads from seven panchayats participated. Prominent among them was Pachiyappan of Pochampatti, who was most vocal and had threatened in abusive languages that Dalits would face serious consequence if the girl was not returned to her parents. There were also few others like Tasmac Siva and Sivaraj, Dharman, who also supported him. The attack was mounted on Natham by some 500 people who went in groups of 30- 40 people while looting and burning houses. They first entered the house looted the valuables and then destroyed the house.

 

In Natham 160 out of total 188 houses were looted, damaged and burnt. Natham had about 250 families, all Dalits, the Paraiyars. Most houses were pucca houses with cement concrete slabs or tiled roofs. Many had glazed tile flooring, some even with granite. Most were well furnished with sofa sets, steel almirahs, and had cycles and motor cycles which lay burnt in front of them. In a meeting with the residents collected in a pandal put up by the government, people provided general information about the hamlet. Twenty families had land ranging from half to three acres. Ninety percent of the menfolk worked in Bengaluru as construction workers and scrap dealers. Over the years, Dalits with their hard work accumulated money and built good houses and generally improved their living standard. There was significant spread of education too. Natham had more than 200 boys and girls who were past +12 and nearly 20 graduates. There were two teachers in government schools, two lady teachers in private schools, four policemen, four military men, an advocate, and some others in similar positions.

 

The first house we visited had completely burnt interior. Jayraman, the owner of the house was inside at the time of attack. He narrated generally what transpired. A mob of some 300-400 people apparently from distant villages had come to his house and they drove him out. They took away their gold jewelry worth 15 sovereigns (sovereign is eight grams). His wife Suguna showed us a plastic bag supposedly containing the remains of their Rs 2 lakhs in 500-rupee denomination. She explained that it was the amount to be distributed to contract labourers, engaged by Jayaraman. Jayaraman had accumulated money to build new house through small contracts but it was all ruined within minutes. Besides the cash, they lost gold jewelry worth over Rs 3.5 lakh, contract material worth 12 lakhs and complete damage to the house running into another couple of lakhs. In return, he just received a cheque for Rs 50,000. They lived since in a small space in their courtyard.

 

We met with Ramakka with her two children. She also told that more than 500 strong mob had attacked them while the policemen watched from the road that ran right in front of her home. The next house was built under the group housing scheme of the government in which the people received some grant from the government. They put in additional money of their own and had changes of their choice. One girl K Parmala, who studied in I BBA in the Government Arts College, Dharamapuri spoke with us. She said, the arsonists had locked her younger brother studying in seventh standard inside the room and asked her to go away. They looted the house and set it on fire. She returned and freed her brother and then doused the fire. The house had marks of half burnt things.

 

Next we met with Com Palaniswamy at his house. He was arrested under POTA in 2006 for his radical activism. Now he is with VCK as their district secretary. He said it was a premeditated attack and named Pachhepan, Medical Shiva, Krishnamurthy, the counselor; Tennarasu Chellamkottai, and Dharman. The adjacent house belonging to Tamilarasn, a collie, was not damaged, revealing the method in madness of the marauders that they wanted to inflict damage on the better off Dalits, who they believed did not deserve good life. Indeed, many residents told us that the attackers abused them saying “do you deserve such good houses such wealth and our girls?”

 

The next house belonged to Madialagan, the brother of Palanisawamy. He also dealt in old paper and scrap. His house was very good and hence badly burnt in its interior. Another person we met also dealt in old papers and scraps. He was Mao alias Socrates alias Santraj. He claimed he lost Rs 2 Lakh and 10 sovereign gold. The adjacent house belonged to Mao’s brother Murthy. He was a village headman. All the houses had their interiors completely burnt and exterior blacked and bearing marks of damage. A narrow lane past these houses took us to the road that connected Natham to Chellankottai, Divya’s village. This was the road by which the mob had carried Nagaraj’s dead body and attacked Elagovan’s house. Next we landed into a big house that belonged to Ravi, a carpenter and brother of Chinnatambi. He had Tata Ace, Bottle Cooler, a big dog housed in a special house, a well kept garden and such other paraphernalia, unbecoming of a typical Dalit in Natham like village. We strayed into many other houses and noted varied kinds of damages. Nowhere had we heard anybody being hit by the mob. It had clearly targeted property of Dalits, particularly the symbols of their prosperity like motorbike, cycles, refrigerator, almirahs, and furniture. Lastly, we saw the Ilarasan’s house which was relatively Spartan. It was desolated, there being no one around to speak with us.

 

At Anna Nagar also same pattern of devastation was observed. Even after a fortnight, the things were almost intact as the houses were utterly unusable. Anna Nagar had a big house belonging to Joseph, a maternal uncle of Ilarasan. It attracted particular ire of the mob. It was blasted with the gas cylinders. Its solid walls and slabs had deep crack and everything within the house in ashes. Many small houses built under the government scheme also were not spared.

 

At Chellamkottai, we mainly met with Divya’s mother. There were few more of her relations, who showed us where Nagaraj had hanged himself and narrated whatever transpired. She said that they were not happy with Divya marrying Illarasan as he was not educated and economically well off. There was a better proposal for Divya from a boy from their own caste who earned about Rs 35000 a month, who was also prepared to wait until she completed her studies. Now that she has lost her husband whose death sparked off such violence resulting in many of her people being taken into custody, she would face villager’s scorn if the girl lived in neighboring Natham. She wanted the cases foisted on people be taken back and all arrested be released.

At Kondampatti village the team saw similar devastation in each house as in Natham or Annanagar. There were 195 households here. The houses in general were brick houses. There were at least few government employees. The educated youth numbered around 70 to 80, most of them having completed graduations and some with post-graduate degrees. Many were studying engineering, nursing and in ITI. The village definitely reflected better spread of education than the district as a whole. The people told us that mob had come in a lorry laced with sticks, crowbars, petrol, petrol bombs, etc. They had run away for their lives into the adjacent fields as the mob looted and burnt their homes.

 

In a make shift meeting with Natham people, we were told that there were 20 policemen who were posted after the acrimonious meeting on 3 November. Around 4.30 pm, they started doing rounds, asking people to run for their lives as a mob of Vanniyars was on its way to attack them. Most houses had only women and children and they fled to fields out of scare. Soon thereafter a mob of 300-400 people from surrounding villages attacked the hamlet with petrol bombs and iron rods. They first broke open the lockers in almirahs and looted the valuables and set them on fire with the help of petrol bombs. Every house that we visited indeed revealed the lockers broke opened and then they were burnt. The orgy went for nearly three hours and only after 9 pm about 500 policemen reached the site, which was less than 10 KM away from the district headquarters and less than 4 KM away from the nearest Krishnapuram police station. Next day, some government officials came at 7 pm and went to some houses and made notes. On 9 November, minister Palaniappan came and distributed cheques. In all, 145 families were given the relief cheques of Rs 50,000 although there were 160 eligible families. DMK people had visited thrice including their fact finding team who had gone from house to house. Likewise, CPM MLA, Dilli Babu visited 10 times till then. Thol Thrumavalavan of VCK visited on 12 November and he had a demonstration on 21 November at Dharmapuri. No one had visited from PMK side so far to the Dalit hamlets.

Analysis

Based on the analysis of the above facts we reach following salient inferences:

The Attack was preplanned

No one who is conversant with the facts about the incident, including police, doubts that the incident was preplanned. The Panchayat meeting of 3 November wherein a threat was issued by some Vanniyar people if the girl was not restored to her parents within two days, was just a precursor. The suicide of Nagaraj might create an impression that the mob fury was just a spontaneous reaction, but it was not. The mobilization within minutes of such large number, the police forewarning Dalits in the three hamlets, the blocking of road by felling trees so that police do not easily reach the site of attack, the pattern in attack that no bodily harm to the inmates of the colonies would be done but their property would be destroyed, all proved that it was not a spontaneous act. The attacking mobs moreover did not have people from the neighboring hamlet. Many of the Dalit victims had specifically told us that they could not recognize people in the mob, which meant that the people from distant villages were commissioned to attack.

Reason for the Attack

It is commonly understood that the incident was triggered off by the inter-caste marriage between a Dalit boy and a Vanniyar girl. But it does not gel well with the history of this district where such inter-caste marriages were not uncommon. Every hamlet had such inter-caste marriages with normalized relations between the families. Inter-caste marriage could germinate discomfort still but could not be the cause of such organized fury. There had to be some other reason. That reason is to be traced to the disintegration of the PMK, the party of Vanniyars founded by Dr S Ramdoss in 1989. He had earlier founded the Vanniyar Sangham in 1980. PMK, based as it is amongst the high class ‘Vanniyakula Kshatriya’ community, had reared high political ambition so much so that it had one time sought the bifurcation of the state of Tamil Nadu into South and North, such that it could emerge as the ruling community in the north where it commands 50% of the vote bank namely the Vanniyars. It however failed to attract sufficient Vanniyar votes, Vanniyars being scattered among all the mainstream parties. Ramdoss had tried a new inclusive strategy, adopting the North Indian concept of ‘bahujan’ and presenting itself as the party of OBCs, Muslims and Dalits. However, it could not overcome the fact that in the field, the Vanniyars have been violent adversaries of Dalits.[1] Over the years, the drifting of Vanniyars away from PMK went on increasing. Today Vanniyars are strewn around in all political parties, including DMK, AIADMK, Congress and DMDK. In the last assembly polls, the PMK lost Vanur and Tindivanam constituencies, which they claimed as their bastions, to the AIADMK. Recently, The PMK split between Velmurugan and Ramdoss, signaling the further weakening of the Ramdoss party. Velumurugan was expelled from the PMK last year after which he founded Thamizagha Vazvurimai Katchi (TVK). There have been violent clashes between the TVK and PCK (PMK). Recently Ramdoss had revived his demand for a separate reservation for Vanniyars to consolidate them back within his fold. Even our findings revealed that the Vanniyars reflected political heterogeneity. It was imperative therefore for the PMK to consolidate the Vanniyars.

 

About two months before the incident, the Kaduvetti Jayankondam Guru, the PMK MLA, who heads the Vanniyar Sangam, had publicly announced that the inter-caste marriages of Vanniyar girls would not be accepted. In our analysis, this had direct bearing on the incident. As a responsible public figure Guru or Ramdoss are not expected to make a blatantly anti-constitutional statement that they would not accept inter-caste marriages. Many people spoke suspiciously about Nagraj’s death in view of the fact that he did not evince such extreme reactions over a month. The family, as revealed by his wife had discomfort in accepting the marraige. Such discomfort is usual. Even she did not imagine that Nagaraj would take an extreme step of hanging himself over the issue. Notwithstanding the conspiracy theories shrouding the incident, the PMK plan to exploit the issue for consolidating Vanniyars comes out clear.
It is interesting to observe the role of the PMK strongman S Ramdoss vis-à-vis the vile campaign against the inter-caste marriages. He said, “First give love letters to girls. Then they gift mobile phones to them. This is how young girls get trapped”. It reminds one of the Khap Panchayats in Harayana that are worried over maintaining their caste purity. It was intriguing that Ramadoss kept silence over this incident for almost a fortnight. When he broke it, he came out against inter-caste marriages. “Keeping a vigil on girls and ensuring that they do not fall prey to love is the duty of parents and elders in the family as well as community”, was his advice at a party fora. He falsified the facts claiming that over 95 per cent of love marriages ended up in divorce. He called for enhancing the marital age for women to 21 years, saying only then they would be physically and mentally prepared to lead family life. There was no hiding that he was employing a casteist strategy to consolidate Vanniyars!

 

New Approach to Atrocities

Tamil Nadu is infamous for gory atrocities on Dalits, having had a dubious distinction of inaugurating a new genre of atrocities in Kilvenmani way back in 1968. While atrocities on Dalits were integral with Dalit lives, they were committed mostly at the individual level for perceived defiance of the caste code. The political economy of the development followed by the Nehruvian regime that produced a class of rich farmers from among the shudra (BC/OBC) castes and inundated the rural India with capitalist relations that denuded Dalits of their traditional security provided by the jajmani system making them rural proletariat, accentuated the caste relations in rural areas. This gave rise to the new kind of atrocities which were committed by a shudra collective on a Dalit collective. Kilvenmani, in which 44 Dalits, mostly women and children were burnt alive by the goons, happened as a reaction of the landlord to the demands of Dalits, led by Communists, for a better farm wages. A spate of such atrocities followed thereafter all over the country which had assumed the form of virtual caste war in Bihar among the landlord armies and the Dalit armies organized under the naxalite banner. The subject atrocity, surely preceded by Gahana and such stray incidents elsewhere, reflects a new trend where Dalits are spared bodily harm but their property is destroyed.

 

Killings always have a gory association. In the sixties and seventies when Dalits did not have any property or assets, killing was the only means to teach them a ‘lesson’. But over the decades, there has been significant cultural advancement among Dalits with the spread of education. They have striven hard to better their living standards. Today a Dalit homestead is not a dilapidated thatched hut sans any asset. The three hamlets in the subject case had all pucca houses. Although most of them were built under the state government scheme, many had significant modification such as Italian or granite tiles. A significant numbers had assets like television, cycle, motorbike, modern kitchen and such like. Dalits still may be the farm labourers but they do not look the same as their parents. The physical distinguishing marks between them and the caste Hindus have almost disappeared. Their property and not the bodies therefore become a more effective target for ‘teaching the lesson’. It represents their accumulated labour for years, almost objectification of their lives. Killing may not necessarily devastate the entire family (unless the person killed is the only earning member) but property surely devastates the family. There is no insurance culture among Dalits to aim at partial compensation. No amount of compensation by anyone is going to restore their lives. It is therefore the property becomes the most effective target, which singularly comes out in the subject case. This cannot happen spontaneously. It reflected a conscious decision not to touch a person and only loot the valuables and destroy the rest.

 

Impact of the Radical Movement

Dharmapuri generally had a distinction of being the centre of the naxalite movement. The Naickenkottai particularly was the hub of naxalite activity as symbolized by the imposing memorial people have erected in the memory of Com. Balan, who hailed from the village. The movement was so widespread that none could remain unaffected by it. Both Vanniyars and Dalits were part of the movement in seventies through nineties. It may be reckoned as the impact of the movement that Dharmapuri, despite being one of the most backward districts of Tamil Nadu, did not see any significant caste atrocity. It is repeatedly observed wherever people are involved in any radical movement, their primordial identities and consequently their manifestations get suppressed. But when they recede, there is a kind of upsurge in them. This is seen right at the level of country down to a village. When the Soviet regime collapsed, the religious identities resurged with vengeance all over. The orthodox churches in Russia overflowed with people amazing the outsiders who hoped that eight decades of the socialist regime would have erased the irrationalities in the conscience of its people; it would have shaped up a new man as Lenin imagined. The same phenomenon is observed in relation to caste in India. There is a lesson to be learnt for the communist movement that relied on mechanics of ‘base and superstructure’ to do the job, devoid of its dialectics. They should rethink this metaphor and recognize that what they consider superstructure is potent enough to distort the base and therefore warrants their conscious revolutionary efforts to erase it.

 

Partisan Role of Police

The area is under high police surveillance because of the naxalite activities that detects a minutest development. It is unbelievable that the development of communal tension in the area since Guru’s public utterances were not known to the Police. The Panchayat meeting on 3 November was a direct signal that communal clash was imminent. The fact that police protection was arranged for these hamlets confirms that police knew of these developments. What was warranted was close monitoring of the area. However, when the attack actually materialized, the police instead of resisting it went on canvassing to Dalits on behalf of marauders to escape from their homes and vanished from the scene. There is no evidence that they tried to dissuade the mob from committing crime, leave apart resisting, which was supposed to be their job. As the attack begun, the additional mobilization of police, which in view of the distances involved could be accomplished within a matter of less than an hour, could have contained the damage. But the additional police force arrived there after some four hours, when everything was done. It is rumoured that the Vanniyars in Police force directly or indirectly helped the marauders. While we would hate to take such conspiracy theory in face value, it is a stark reality that the police failure has been primarily responsible for the incidence. It cannot be interpreted as mere ‘dereliction of duty’ by some petty policemen. It points at the failure of the police administration and needs to be squarely owned up by the Police Superintendent (SP) himself. The Police Chief instead of owning up the failure has suspended a police inspector (Perumal) and a Deputy Superintendent (Gopi) and some constables. May be, they deserve punishment. But it is not enough to restrict the action to these minions; and it should reach the top where the rot begins. The SP of the district incidentally is the same person who headed Madurai Police when Paramkudi killings had taken place last year. The Fact Finding Report on the incident had faulted his role and remarked his haughty behavior even then.

 

Demands

1. The root cause for this incident needs to be located in the statements of Kudavatti J Guru and subsequent endorsements of PMK Supremo Ramdoss against the inter-caste marriages. These statements being unconstitutional, these persons should be charged for whipping inter-caste hatred and disharmony; instigating violence and criminal conspiracy under appropriate articles.

 

2. Several people named Pachiappan, Siva, Sivaraj, Dharaman who threatened Dalits in the meeting of 3 November of dire consequences and subsequently led the violent mobs to execute it. They should be arrested and charged for violence against the Dalits under the Atrocity Act.

 

3. The police negligence in ignoring the signals of imminent communal conflict and taking preventive action is clear. It cannot be camouflaged by suspension of a few low level policemen. An independent enquiry into this aspect needs to be conducted so as to locate the fault and the responsible officials should be punished for the same.

 

4. A detailed survey of the Dalit hamlets to assess the actual loss the people suffered should be conducted and the government should compensate them in full. In addition, the victims are liable for compensation for the mental agony they suffered from the government as the root cause of it is its failure.

 

5. The incident has created a acrimonious divide between the Vanniyars and Dalits, which means that Dalits would not get farm jobs on Vanniyar farms anymore. The government should create self employment opportunities and arrange for training of Dalits in these and surrounding hamlets most expeditiously.

 

Dr Anand Teltumbde is writer and a civil rights activist with CPDR, Mumbai

E-mail: tanandraj@gmail.com

 

 

 

MGNREGA Worker Jagu Bhuiyan’s Suicide case


(Report of the 4 member Fact Finding team from Jharkhand NREGA Watch)

 

Karmatand, Panchayat Hotai, Block Panki, Dist. Palamau, Jharkhand. A 55 year old Dalit man, Jagu Bhuiyan hung himself from a tree in his farm on the night of the 6th of January, 2012. He was a beneficiary of a Well Construction scheme sanctioned under MGNREGA. A well was being constructed on Jagu’s land under scheme number 11/2010-11 in the financial year 2010-11. The labourers who had worked for the well before monsoon, were continuously demanding their wages.

A team of Jharkhand NREGA Watch went to Karmatand on 9th January, 2012 for immediate fact finding of the main reasons for suicide. The team talked to the family members of Jagu Bhuiyaan and other villagers. The salient points of the fact-finding are as under: Jagu’s wife, Kabootri Devi informed that on the night of 6th January, 2012, like every day, Jagu went to sleep at the shed on their farmland. When his children went to the farm on the morning of 7th January, 2012, they saw their father’s body hanging from the Palash tree and then informed the villagers about it immediately. The villagers informed the Panchayat representatives about it, who then informed the Paanki police station through the local guard. His body was then lifted by the police. Jagu’s wife Kabootri Devi, Son Doman Bhuiyan (30), Anu Bhuiyan, Nandev Bhuiyan, Bhola Uraon, Ward member Pratima Devi (ward number 5), labourers and villagers informed in the formal meeting that they had got an order from the block for a well construction.

Work was commenced in April, 2011. 10 labourers had worked continuously till 15th June, 2011 but in the Well Construction Scheme of Jagu Bhuiyan, the labourers got Rs. 14200 in one installment. He sold off one Ox for paying the labourers and distributed the money he got from selling the ox, to the labourers. Despite this, there was Rs. 1720 as pending wages, of Anu Bhuiyan and his wife. 400 boulders and sand has been lifted to the worksite. There is no entry in the Measurement Book for the material and no payment has been made against the above mentioned material. If the labourers who were working on the Well digging are to be believed, the well was dug 28 feet into the ground. According to the model rate, the cost of this is Rs. 43920.

The Nodal Officer found the depth to be 20 feet on 9th of January in his investigation. That the wells constructed before monsoons have been crushed down/damaged by rains is a well known fact, both with the District and State Administration. Even if the costing of the well is to be done at the current depth, it comes to Rs. 18445. Add to that, the cost of the boulders and sand that was lifted to the site. If the total pending wages are calculated, even by the strictest standards, they add up to Rs. 10000. The actual situation in the Hotai Panchayat is worse. All the people working on MGNREGA in Jharkhand must be knowing that the Chief Secretary, Jharkhand state had ordered in March 2011 for construction of 50 wells in every Panchayat. The well construction scheme in Jharkhand has faced controversy since then. Because, under the provisions of MGNREGA, the right to choose schemes rests with the Gram Sabha and not with any minister or political leader.

In Hotai Panchayat, construction had begun on 44 wells around the 15th of April.We also remember that the transfer of funds from the District to the Panchayats accounts took place on 24thJune, 2011, only after the intervention of the MGNREGA Commissioner. The Hotai Panchayat received only one installment, that of Rs. 9,90,000 in the financial year 2011-12. Under the Wage Payment head of Hotai Panchayat’s account for the labourers who worked before monsoons, the balance is only Rs. 500 since July 2011. For all the well construction schemes only that commenced before monsoons, the Panchayat needs Rs. 5,00,000 from the government. The situation is that there have been no efforts since July 2011 to provide any employment to the MGNREGA labourers in Hotai.

The major irregularities in implementation of MGNREGA in Hotai Panchayat

  • There was a dearth of funds since June 2011 in the Panchayat. The Mukhiya (Sarpanch/Pradhan) of the Panchayat sent 5 written requests to the Administration for allocation for NREGA between 2nd June 2011 and 16th December 2011.
  • The labourers have been paid at a rate of Rs. 100 which is lower than the minimum wage in Jharkhand, Rs. 120. And this has been paid “in cash”.
  • None of the labourers have their pass-books, either of the bank or the post office.
  • Rs. 500000 is pending as wages since the past six months in 44 well construction schemes, work on which started in April 2011.
  • Muster Rolls haven’t been maintained properly for any scheme or worksite.
  • None of the labourers’ job cards have been renewed despite the fact that their job cards were valid only till 31st March, 2010.
  • Most of the families dependent upon labour have migrated to other states in search of work.

Be it the beneficiaries of NREGA or the activists struggling against the corruption in welfare schemes, the instances of their suicide and gruesome murder are continuously being reported in Jharkhand. The police haven’t yet solved the case of an RTI activist, Pradeep Prasad’s murder that took place in Pandeypura village of Latehar district of the state on 29thDecember 2011, just a fortnight back. The suicide of Jagu Bhuiyan has proved that the administration is totally insensitive about the situation of NREGA. It should be remembered that after the murder of Subal Mahto in Bokaro district and Niyamat Ansari in Latehar district of Jharkhand, the Central Government had appealed the State Government to prevent such events in future. Also, it had been ordered by the Central Government that under the Pilot Action Research programme, 12 districts of Jharkhand will focus on special thematic areas for better implementation of NREGA. But the District administration of Palamau has been unresponsive to the programme and hence satisfactory results haven’t been achieved. For assistance of the people who were financially dependent upon Jagu Bhuiyan and for the punishment of the people who are responsible for this, we have the following demands from the Palamau District Administration:

  1. According to the order of the Jharkhand government, reference number 4-1010(NREGA)/10/Rural Development-4716 Ranchi/dated 1/8/2011, a compensation of Rs. 75000 should be provided to Jagu bhuiyan’s wife, Kabootri Devi, within the next three days.
  2. A case should be filed against the officers responsible for Jagu Bhuiyan’s suicide under the section 306.
  3. The family should get Rs. 5 lakhs as compensation and a Government job of the 4th grade to one member of the family.
  4. Other social security benefits (under the National Family Benefit Scheme, Widow pension scheme, Indira Awas Yojana and free education for the children) should be provided to the members of the family within a specified time.
  5. To avoid any such event in the future, camps should be organized in every block of the Palamau district and all the cases of pending wages should be solved.
  6. The Government should protect and guarantee the security of the activists and individuals who take up pro-poor causes with the help of RTI or in MGNREGA.

Names of the members of the fact-finding team of Jharkhand NREGA Watch are:

  1. Virendra Paswan
  2. Mithlesh Kumar
  3. Jitendra Singh
  4. James Herenj


The Jharkhand NREGA Watch team met Ms. Pooja Singhal, the Deputy Commisioner, Palamau district on 11thJanuary, 2012 presenting her their fact finding report about Jagu Bhuiyan’s suicide case. They also demanded for essential benefits for the family. The DC discussed and decided action on the following major points:

  1. There are significant similarities between the report submitted by the Jharkhand NREGA Watch team and the administrative team that visited the village. But there are certain things in the case that require further inquiry.
  2. The family of Jagu Bhuiyaan will be provided the following social security benefits: Rs. 10000 under the National Family Benefit Scheme, Rs. 75000 under the scheme for NREGA labourers by Jharkhand Government, Widow Pension and food entitlements.
  3. A strategy will be made for a long-term solution of the institutional problems in the administration for better implementation of NREGA.

A video has been prepared on this suicide case which can be accessed on YouTube through the following link

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