August 07, 2010, Sanhati
Six police stations of Barwani district Madhya Pradesh have been immobilized for the past three days as adivasis poured into them demanding that they be arrested. Members of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), they were protesting the wrongful arrest of three adivasis in a case filed by the forest department. The adivasis said that the police repeatedly files false cases against them whenever they demand their legal rights. In the recent case, 3 adivasis,Valsingh Sastia, Bhaisingh Davar and Shera Davar were carrying thin poles for house repairs, and the poles were from trees grown by their comrades alongside their own fields. Eight forest officials had stopped them and tried to seize the wood. When they protested that since these were poles from home grown trees and were being used for house building , the officials could not stop them, and as angry local villagers started gathering to join in the protests, the foresters went away. Two days later, a case of loot and criminal assault on government officials was registered by Khetia PS against the three adivasis. They were arrested and a tractor belonging to one of them was forcibly brought from his home and seized. Interestingly , according to the report filed by the forest officials, the only use of force used for the alleged “loot” was the “threat “ of public protests if the adivasis were stopped. Nor is there any description of criminal assault despite the adivasis being charged with this offence.
This incident has resulted in widespread anger among adivasis. When protests on 27th-28th July yielded no results, adivasis started pouring into 6 police stations- Pati, Silavad, Palsud chowki, Niwali, Pansemal and Khetia – on 3rd August 2010, demanding that since all adivasis live in timber houses they, and in fact, the entire community should be arrested. They also said that they were tired of continuous false cases by the police and that the police should arrest them all once and for all. Alarmed , the police have locked up the police stations for the past three days. The Sangathan, in a written complaint to the Collector and SP has demanded that the police stations be opened.
A bail petition for the arrested adivasis was earlier rejected . Another petition comes for hearing today.
Urgent Appeal: Condemn arrests of adivasis in Barwani, Madhya Pradesh
Three adivasis, including Valsingh Sastia, senior leader of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, have been arrested on serious non-bailable charges, on a complaint filed by the Forest Department. In May, villagers of Karanpura and other villages of Pansemal range had got together to donate some wood to their comrade, Valsingh Bhai,since the roof beams of his house had begun to rot. These were slender poles taken trees that they had grown and protected on their own land. When Valsingh Bhai was transporting this wood to his home, he was stopped by Pansemal forest range officials. He explained that he was carrying this wood for house building and that it had been given to him by his comrades,. The forest officials first said that they had called the SDO who would take a decision in this matter. When the SDO failed to appear, but word started spreading in the area that Valsingh has been wrongfully stopped and local people started gathering at the spot, the forest officials disappeared.
Two days later, a case of loot and robbery, obstructing and harming government officials was registered against Valsingh Bhai and 2 others- Bhaisingh Davar and his son Shera Davar(392, 353,332 IPC). The latter two were arrested last week and Valsingh Bhai was arrested today. Bhaisingh Davar’s tractor has been confiscated.
Valsingh Sastia has been leading adivasis of Barwani district in their struggle for the realization of their legal and constitutional rights, including rights under the Forest Rights Act.
There is great anger among the adivasis of this predominantly tribal district. This incident has roused an ancient anger against forest-police violence. Kacharsingh Dudwe, Tarkibai, Bilatibai and others are protesting asking “do adivasis have the right to a roof over their heads? When we do not even have enough food to eat how we can build cement houses. All adivasis live in kacha houses with timber roof beams. So they should arrest the entire adivasi community. This was wood from trees grown by us, why is the government harassing us with false cases? In any case it is the forest department that has destroyed the forest. Even today illegal forest timber is being openly sold under the very noses of forest officials with their full connivance.” The Forest Rights Act acknowledges the “historical injustice” done to adivasis and acknowledges their right to dwellings in and around forest areas.
Thousands of adivasis affiliated to Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, including women and children have already started a sustained agitation against these arrests. Around 2000 adivasis participated in a two day protest dharna at 5 police stations of the district on 27-28th July. Pansemal range was gheraoed, though when the forest officials saw the people coming, they locked their office and homes and ran away. Adivasis are planning mass courting of arrests at least 6 police stations within the next few days.
Please condemn these arrests and join us in our protests. Please contact the district administration at
* Madhya Pradesh Forest Minister: Dr. Sartaj Singh, Phone: 9425008821, FAX – 0755-2550492
* Superintendent of Police: Shri Raghuveer Singh Meena (I.P.S.), Phone: 09425188332, +91-7290-222561 (Office) , +91-7290-222527 (Res.) , +91-7290-223304 (Fax) , E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* District Collector: Shri Santosh Mishra (I.A.S.) , Phone: +91-7290-224001 (Office) , +91-7290-224002 (Res.), +91-7290-224003 (Fax), E-Mail: email@example.com
* DFO Sendhwa – Anand Kumar Singh – 07281-228408, 9424793035
Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, Barwani, Madhya Pradesh