Despite publicly announcing that the Forest Rights Act would be notified into force on October 2nd, the government has still not done so. Meanwhile, the Rules to the Act are reportedly being sabotaged, and moves to begin identifying areas for relocating people have already begun – on the basis of the sham "tiger conservation" scheme revealed in the Campaign's press conference. Popular protest is continuing across India, with every day seeing large demonstrations in various parts of the country as part of the Campaign's jail bharo andolan.
On October 3rd, more than 3,000 people marched in Satna, MP. The following day a similar march took place in Burhanpur. On that day as well – October 4th – more than 2000 people courted arrest in Roha (Raigad District, Maharashtra). In Karnataka, more than 2000 people courted arrest in three districts on October 2nd and protests have continued since. Today (October 7th), large morchas will take place in Sivni, Chhindwara, Betul and Jabalpur districts. Tomorrow, a demonstration will take place in Khandwa.
This is building up to larger demonstrations in several parts of the country. On October 25th, a large demonstration and jail bharo andolan will take place in Udaipur. On November 15th, a very large cross-party demonstration will take place in Bhopal, with approximately 50,000 people participating. Around the same time, a mass public meeting will take place in Raipur. Finally, in the third week of November, the Campaign will be organising a mass demonstration in Delhi.
The pressure is building from other quarters. On October 1st, the Gondwana Ganatantrak Party held public meetings in 17 disricts and handed over memoranda addressed to the Prime Minister. Narendra Modi's moves in Gujarat are well known. In Madhya Pradesh, on Friday the Chief Minister announced that the State government will begin implementation of the Act witihn one month if the Centre does not do so. In Chhatisgarh, so-called "surveys" are already underway in preparation for the Act. The Andhra Pradesh government meanwhile has announced that it is poised to implement the Act and may even consider a State level legislation.
All of this is being greeted with total silence from the Central government. Yet we know what is happening. While people are denied their rights in the name of conservation, the forests are sold to mining corporations like Vedanta, enormous money is allocated in the name of tigers and illegal forest destruction continues. The emperor now truly has no clothes. The struggle will go on.
Survival and Dignity
October 7, 2007