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