Forest Communities Give Call Against Anti-Democratic, Anti-People Moves to Dilute Forest Rights Act, Undermine Constitutional Protections and Seize the Resources of the People

Political Leaders, Progressive Organisations Express Their Support

The National Convention on Forest Rights, attended by organisations and representatives from ten States and addressed by a spectrum of political and progressive leaders, reiterated the determination of forest communities to fight against the government's systematic effort to undermine and crush democracy in forest areas. 

The Convention highlighted the following:

The Central and State Governments through such subversion and assault will create – and indeed are creating - a spiral of violent conflict and repression in forest areas.   The cost to the nation will be incalculable. 

Delegates from each state addressed the convention to describe the current situation in their States, including moves to seize community lands for biodiesel plantations and SEZs, as well as brutal evictions of police firings.   The Convention was also addressed by Noorul Huda, All India Kisan Sabha; Suneet Chopra, General Secretary, All India Agricultural Workers Union; Surendra Mohan, senior Socialist leader; Dr. B.D. Sharma, Bharat Jan Andolan and former SC/ST Commissioner; Dileep Singh Bhuria, Gondwana Ganatantrak Party and former SC/ST Commissioner; and Dr. K.B. Saxena, former Chief Secretary of Bihar.  All the speakers stressed the need to fight the moves by the government, not only in the Rules or in the Act, but on the ground in the face of brutal and illegal repression.  Some key quotes from their speeches are attached.  


The Convention was attended by representatives from the States of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Rajasthan, as well as by friendly organisations from North Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.



"Adivasis have been struggling to get this Act passed, but now the government is using all methods against it and its purpose - including mass crime such as salwa judum, a form of 'strategic hamleting' used by the Americans in Vietnam.   The government is sponsoring terror in the country."

-          Suneet Chopra, All India Agricultural Workers Union

"The struggle of kisans, adivasis, Dalits and other oppressed sections is the same struggle.   The All India Kisan Sabha and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have always supported this struggle and are here to extend our support to your demands.   It shall be our endeavour to ensure that this Act is not undermined through the process of the Rules."

-          Noorul Huda, All India Kisan Sabha

"We all know how the bureaucracy works, and we know especially how the forest bureaucracy works.   We have to have a political response to this agenda.  At the national level, politicians, intellectuals and people's organisations have to join hands."

-          K.B. Saxena, former Chief Secretary of Bihar

"Adivasis have only given to the world; we have taken nothing.   The government says keeps promising us pieces of paper that are supposed to grant our rights; but then demand other pieces of paper from us first as evidence, which is exactly what they have always denied!"

 - Dileep Singh Bhuria, Gondwana Ganatantrak Party and former SC/ST Commissioner

 "The government has to recognize the true democracy is when the gram sabha decides.   Until the gram sabha is given its due powers, this Act will be rendered a weapon against the people."

-          Dr. B.D. Sharma, Bharat Jan Andolan and former SC/ST Commissioner