Friends,

ON THE VERY DAY that the PM wrote to State Chief Ministers in the name of implementing the new law, 125 houses were burned in the villages of Peepal Khotha and Juniwadi in Nepanagar Tehsil, Burhanpur District, Madhya Pradesh (the site of evictions in a further six villages in December 2007).  Forest officers, along with more than one hundred hired labourers, attacked the villages after noon.  More than 25 100 kilo sacks of grain were looted by the Department, along with more than 150 chickens, 60-70 goats, money, silver, utensils and clothing.   All those attacked had been cultivating their lands since 1979.

Today victims of these State atrocities in Burhanpur along with hundreds of other adivasis have begun a protest dharna in Bhopal against the inhuman brutality of the Forest Department.

This behaviour by the State of Madhya Pradesh only confirms what the forest rights movements have always said - the mere notification of a law is but a step forward.  For the government and the corporates driven by an agenda of expropriating resources, neither law nor policy nor rights have ever been of importance.  The law is but a tool in our hands to fight for our homelands.  Whereas before the exercise of force by the state was clothed in rhetoric about forest protection and wildlife conservation, now its illegality and brutality stands exposed.  The emperor truly has no clothes.

Campaign for Survival and Dignity