//Capitalism, mafia posing threat to tribals

Capitalism, mafia posing threat to tribals

Wednesday February 22 2006 11:02 IST

MYSORE: “In the name of development, imperialists and capitalists are making a direct attack and exploiting the natural resources of forests. The wheels of the MNC juggernaut will divide tribal communities and manipulate governments,” former Central SC/ST commissioner B.D. Sharma said here.

Delivering the keynote address at the 2nd inter-Congress of the Indian National Confederation and Academy of Anthropologists’ on Tuesday, he said MNCs have little respect for the law of the land. Even the proposed Tribals Forest Right Bill is likely to become a tool for MNCs to exploit the forest resources, he warned.

Pointing out that tribals in India were going through a critical phase, he said the sudden opening up of tribal areas after independence disrupted the harmony of tribal society. The marginal areas moved to the centre of the economic scene, but their inhabitants still remained marginal, he regretted.

He cited the killing of 12 tribals in Kalinganagar in Orissa for their resistance to move out of the bush and more than 300 tribals being detained to acquire their land. These incidents do not withstand the constitutional safeguards and UN declaration for protection and respect for tribal people’s relationship with the territory they occupy, Sharma said.

“A good tribal is a displaced tribal. The moment he becomes assertive of his rights as a citizen of a liberalised state like India, he is branded a Naxalite or a rebel,” he lamented. Sharma added that the Provisions of Panchayats Extension to the Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996 concedes the natural right of tribals over community resources through gram sabhas.

TRIBES RULED BY MAFIA: He said that the formation of Jharkand and Chattisgarh states were influenced by MNCs and mafia power, rather than the fight of a few scores of people. Both these powers just know the law of marketing and looting. Parts of Kheonjhar and other forest areas in Orissa are under mafia control. Even officials work under their influence, he added.