//Call to drop cases against Tribals, Janu warns of `second Muthanga stir'

Call to drop cases against Tribals, Janu warns of `second Muthanga stir'

Fourth anniversary of Muthanga incident observed

KOCHI: The fourth anniversary of the Muthanga episode, which shook the Government and the public conscience and highlighted the woes of over three million Adivasis, reminded the civil society on Monday that the promises given to the community remain largely not kept.

Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha leader C.K. Janu told a meeting held to mark the anniversary that the very fact that the memorial ceremony was being held here in Kochi was a reminder that Adivasis had been let down.

For, she said, she and about 300 Adivasis in Wayanad were being forced to come to Kochi quite often to attend court proceedings. In the next three weeks, they would have to stand trial in the CBI court and the sessions court on three days.

This was because the former UDF Government transferred six criminal cases registered by the police against the Muthanga agitators to the CBI. On the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission to order a `fair and impartial' probe, the Government had asked the CBI to investigate the Muthanga violence.

But, while it ignored the NHRC recommendation to investigate the atrocities committed against the Adivasis, the Government notified that the CBI would probe those six cases. Ms. Janu urged the Government to rescind the cases and order an investigation into the atrocities committed against the Adivasis during and after the Muthanga violence.

The Muthanga Day opened with the `gaddhika' ritual offered to Jogi, Adivasi `martyr' who died during the police firing on the agitators at Muthanga. M. Geethanandan, who along with Ms. Janu led the Muthanga agitation, said that the handing of the cases against the Adivasis to the CBI, without anybody having asked for it, was part of a political conspiracy.

Sukumar Azhikode, who inaugurated the meeting, said that the Adivasi land issue could have been solved in the first 10 years of Independence. It had dragged on for 60 years because of the incompetence of the rulers.

 

Janu warns of `second Muthanga stir'

K.P.M. Basheer, The Hindu, 20 Feb 2007

KOCHI: Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha president C.K. Janu, who led the 2003 Muthanga Adivasi agitation, has warned that `Muthangas' will recur if the Government backs out from its commitments.

"If the Government does not keep its words on land allotment and fails to honour other commitments, we will soon launch a `second Muthanga' agitation," Ms. Janu told The Hindu on Monday, the fourth anniversary of the Muthanga episode. "We will occupy government lands in Thiruvananthapuram, Wayanad, Idukki and Kannu districts," she said.

She said the 7,500-acre Aralam Farm in Kannur district was purchased by the Government "by using the funds meant for our welfare" to be assigned to landless Adivasis in Wayanad and Kannur districts. The Rs.42-crore price was paid out of three years' TSP (tribal sub-plan) funds. But later on, the A.K. Antony Government decided to set apart only 3,500 acres for tribal rehabilitation and keep the rest as farm. This, according to Ms. Janu, was a violation of the agreement the Adivasis had with the Government.

The former United Democratic Front Government had assigned one acre each to 840 tribal families in the first phase. A second list of beneficiaries was prepared, but because of the Assembly elections the assigning process got stalled. When it dragged on, the Mahasabha got some 1,000 tribal families who had been on the second beneficiaries' list settled on the farm.

Ms. Janu alleged that the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front Government was now trying to torpedo the assigning of land. First, she said, the Government banned the second list and replaced it with another.

Then, there was a move to set up a `tourism zone' on the farm and turn the land into several resorts.