KOLKATA: 16th December, 2012 - THOUSANDS of tribals rallied in Kolkata on December 16 in a massive demonstration in support of the 22-point charter of demands. The colourful, militant rally was organised by Paschimbanga Adivasi Adhikar Mancha. Tribals from all parts of the state, from tea gardens to jangal mahal, participated in the rally. Apart from the tribal leaders, CPI(M) leaders Biman Basu and Surya Kanta Mishra addressed the rally. They stressed on the need for united movement for successful achievement of demands.
Biman Basu said the ruling party is desperately trying to fragment the people’s unity to distract their attention. The chief minister is claiming that 99 per cent of the work, as promised by them, has been accomplished. It is now for the people to judge from their experience. The tribals are peace-loving, calm people in general but one should not forget that they too had taken a leading role in theIndependence struggle. If they are subjected to continuous deprivation, they will not once withstand it.
Surya Kanta Mishra said that when the UPA government in the centre was running with the support of the Left, the Act on ‘Tribal rights in forest areas’ was passed. After that the Left Front took steps towards its implementation but under the new government, work has practically stopped. The forest minister is accusing the Land and Land Revenue department for the delay. The fact is, this department is directly under chief minister Mamata Banerjee. So it is her department that is not acting to expedite the process of distributing ‘pattas’ amongst the tribals. The cooperative formed by the Left Front government for the welfare of the tribals in acquiring “Kendu leaves’ and to offer them the right price for their produce, is not being paid any heed by the present TMC government. It is being said that calm has been restored in jangal mahal region but the fact is the TMC has bought the ‘Maoists’ and now they are their leaders, well protected by the police.
Some of the salient points in the demands raised by PBAAM:
● The tribals cannot be removed from their land
● The Forest Protection Rights Act 2006 for the tribals has to be implemented.
● The socio-economic development for the tribals has to be incorporated according to demographic proportion. Special package has to be announced for the affected tea garden workers of North Bengal along with special package compensation to the families of workers who have died.