PUCL, February 2003

Brutal killing of Adivasis in Wayanad condemned

To the Prime Minister,
Government Of India

22 February 2003

New Delhi.

Also, Demands and observations

We, the undersigned condemn the brutal police action leashed out on the
Adivasi Resistance Movement (Adivasi Gothra Sabha and Adivasi-Dalit Samara
Samithy) at the Muthanga Forest region of Wayanad District, in Kerala, yesterday.

We are extremely stunned about the way in which the state machinery has
resorted to contain the years long genuine demand of the adivasi movement for their land rights. We also condemn the reported assault on the Press people and the media persons.

The police and forest officials along with the Kerala Armed Police moved in yesterday (19th February 2003) into the Muthanga range of Wayanad wild life
sanctuary, where the adivasis under the leadership of Ms. C.K. Janu of Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha and Geethanandan of Adivasi-Dalit Samara Samithy had gathered. The version of the state government sent out through the Press statement issued by the state police says that five people have been killed in the bloody confrontation between the state armed police and the adivasis.

But unconfirmed eyewitness accounts place the figure beyond 10, including old women and children. Instead of a political and administrative resolution to
the age-old Adivasi demand for land, the state government has unfortunately resorted to violent remedies, which has led to the massacre of adivasis.
Over 1100 adivasi families protesting against the non-implementation of
the agreement reached between them and the Kerala Government had occupied some 5000 acres of cleared forests of the Muthanga range in Wayanad wild life sanctuary on 4th January 2003.

On 17th February 2003, 21 persons, comprising mostly of forest department officials and police along with hired labour, were caught red-handed - setting fire to the forests - by the adivasis. The fire was set on to the forest as part of the conspiracy to use that as an excuse to assault the adivasis. On 18 February the collector of Wayanad had come and recorded the statement of those caught setting fire and the culprits were released.

While the necessity of the protection of forest resources is not questioned, the same cannot be achieved without the complete participation of the adivasi
community and their rights to life and livelihood.

In the present situation, the administration should try and resolve the issue through an amicable settlement with the adivasis, including implementation of the government's earlier promise to the people.

To restore immediate normalcy in the state and the region, and to protect the lives of adivasis, we demand the state government to:

  1. Stop police action which has created a war-like situation in the entire area.

  2. .Immediately diffuse the tension and restore normalcy.

  3. Allow the Press and the civil society groups to enter the area and talk to the adivasi leaders and thereby disseminate factual

We are:

Arun Kumar, Vice-President, Peoples' Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL), Bihar. Editor-in-Chief, Manavadhikar, Member national council, Indian Federation Of Working Journalist (IFWJ), President, The Times Of India Newspaper Employees Union. (e-mail: arun_manavadhikar@ yahoo.co.uk).

Ramashray Prasad Singh, Managing Editor, Manavadhikar, President, PUCL Begusarai (Bihar), Member, National Council, PUCL.

Ramurthy Prasad Singh, General Secretary, PUCL Begusarai.

Ramnaresh Sharma (Advocate, Begusarai), Member State Council, PUCL, Bihar.

Copy also to Chairman: NHRC , New Delhi (chairnhrc@nic.in)


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