People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 46

November 17, 2013



                                                           ‘AP Forest Department Acting like Land Mafia’

Brinda Karat Addresses Tribals in Khammam


T L Narsaiah


CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat has attacked the Forest Department of Andhra Pradesh government for its illegal, anti-tribal actions in the state. She charged the Department officials of turning into land-grabbers by evicting the rightful tribal owners. She called upon the tribals to wage a united struggle to protect their rights.


Brinda Karat was addressing a massive gathering of tribals, dalits and poor peasants in a public meeting in Khammam on 06th November 2013. CPI(M) Khammam district committee organised this meeting on the main demands and it was presided over by Party district secretary P Sudershan Rao.


The implementation of Forest Rights Act in Andhra Pradesh has been the worst. More than 50 per cent of the claims of tribals for grant of patta rights have been rejected by the government without providing any reason. Gram sabhas are not being conducted. Karat said the Forest Department has turned into a land mafia by occupying the tribal lands under the garb of Van Suraksha Samithy (VSS). Over 200 false cases have been filed against tribals who have questioned this land grab. The right of tribals to practice podu (shifting) cultivation is being trampled upon by creating terror among the tribals. Their tractors are being illegally siezed. She contrasted this state of affairs with that of Tripura where under the Left Front government tribals are benefiting the most in the country. Highest number of pattas have been granted under FRA in Tripura and the government is facilitating tribals to practice settled agriculture.


Brinda Karat told the people that Congress leaders in Delhi are only thinking about votes and seats in the coming elections and left the people to their woes. She questioned the CM for not caring to visit the people affected by floods in Telangana region. She lampooned those who are only concerned about the status of Hyderabad post division and not bothered about the situation of tribals. She said it is only the CPI(M) and tribal organisations that are fighting for the interests of tribals and other toiling masses.


Despite very clear guidelines and directions from union tribal ministry to not allocate podu lands to groups like VSS, this is happening in Andhra Pradesh. When the Girijana Sangham launched several agitations against these unlawful acts, the government unleashed repression. Over  200 cases were registered against tribal people and leaders of the organisation. One leader was arrested under Preventive Detention Act and put in Cherlapalli central jail. The Girijana Sangham approached the State Human Rights Commission for justice. But the government approached the Supreme Court to continue his detention for some more period. Brinda Karat demanded that all such cases against tribals and tribal activists must be immediately withdrawn.


CPI(M) central committee member Thammineni Veerabhadram in his speech condemned the Forest Department for pasting posters in the villages announcing reward to those who inform them about tribals land tilling activities. He said earlier such rewards were sought for information on dacoits and traitors. He said it is shameful that the Congress government is equating the tribals with dacoits and traitors. When applications were made for distribution of 4.70 lakh acres of land, the government ordered survey only for 17,000 acres. He opposed the demand of merging Bhadrachalam division into Andhra region saying the aim of this demand is to submerge large tribal areas under Polavaram project. He asserted that Bhadrachalam must be retained in Khammam district and the design of Polavaram project must be changed to lessen the number of tribal villages being submerged.


CPI(M) state secretariat member and former MP, Dr M Babu Rao, state committee members S Rajaiah and AP Girijana Sangham secretary Sriram Naik also addressed the meeting. After the meeting, a huge rally was taken out in Khammam town. A delegation of leaders led by CPI(M) district secretary met the district collector and submitted a memorandum seeking immediate redressal of the problems facing tribals and other sections of the poor in the district.