Campaign Update: Chhattisgarh Chief Concedes to demands for land rights
24 Feb 03
Chief concedes to demands for land rights
February 24, 2003–The Chief Minister of the Indian state Chhattisgarh conceded to Ekta Parishad’s demands for land rights of the Baiga tribal peoples. The Ekta Parishad movemement campaigned in February 2003 on the issue of land, forest and water rights in the region. Baigas and marginalized peoples were being evicted from their traditional lands, even though they have special protection under Indian law.
The Minister agreed to the demands after 1500 protesters marched on Chhattisgarh’s capital, Raipur, to protest the brutal murder of Birju Baiga, a land rights activist on February 9. He was chopped to death by a member of the forest protection committee as they evicted his family, according to an Ekta Parishad news release.
This is one more incidence in which the local forest department and police are complicit in the evictions, said an Ekta Parishad spokesperson.
As a result of the protest, the Chief Minister met with 12 Ekta Parishad representatives, including Birju Baiga’s wife, brother and father. The Chief Minister met all four of Ekta Parishad’s demands:
Halt of all evictions and repression’s of tribal dwelling forest people.
Provide adequate compensation to the family of Birju Baiga.
Provide land plots to 3,000 families eligible for receiving them.
Set up of a task force to sort out land and forest issues in all 16 districts of the State.
The pressure on the Chhattisgarh government was created through mobilization and advocacy in favour of resolving the critical land and forest problems of the state, which affect four million tribals. Ekta Parishad and its supporters in Europe and Canada, including South Asia Partnership Canada, will remain vigilant in pressing the state government to follow up on each of these commitments.
Ekta Parishad’s current campaign will continue to advocate on behalf of marginalised people in Chhattisgarh until March 1, 2003. Activists will visit Gariaband, Chura, Mahasamund, Raipur and Tilda.
Ekta Parishad thanks all its supporters for making its campaign a success. Watch this space for further updates and action alerts.