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Medha Patkar lends support to agitating landless tribals in Kerala
Two Circles, 15 Dec 2014,Thiruvanathapuram: Following the talks between activist and Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar with state ministers on Monday, tribal activists are hopeful that there seems a solution in sight for the long pending issue of tribals agitating for their land for over 150 days. Patkar also visited the ongoing stand-up protest of the tribals.
For almost 160 days, tribals from across Kerala are staging a standing struggle in front of the state secretariat here demanding a right to their own land.
Patkar held talks with Kerala’s Minister for Tourism and SC/ ST Welfare A P Anil Kumar and Minister for Tribal Welfare P K Jayalakshmi, after which the state government expressed its readiness to address the long pending demands raised by the tribals.
Patkar is said to have urged the state government to allot land to each tribal family by utilising the 19,000 acres of the vested forest land that had been identified by the empowered committee of the Supreme Court for the purpose. “The land agreement the A K Antony government had made with the tribal organisations in 2001 should also be implemented,” Patkar demanded.
Ministers A P Anil Kumar and P K Jayalakshmi, reportedly, agreed the demands of the tribal community.
Patkar also visited the ongoing stand-up protest of tribes people under the banner of the Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha here. As per the decision in the meeting, Patkar along with Gothra Maha Sabha leaders Geethananthan and C K Janu will meet Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at his office on Tuesday.
Talking to Two Circles.net, Gothra Maha Sabha leader and standing struggle convener Geethanandhan said the struggle will come to an end if the government resolves the issues faced by the tribes. “We are not demanding anything new. The promise that the state government gave in 2001 and the rehabilitation measures announced by the government after the Muthanga incident of 2003 should be implemented,” he said.
The agitating leaders said tribal community has no access to the benefits of the state’s human development while the other residents enjoy all. They are still fighting for basic rights, including ownership of land,” Geethanandhan told Two Circles.net.
The Adivasis started the standing protest on July 9 demanding that the government honour the package it had promised in 2001, to tackle hunger deaths in Adivasi villages and to implement the Forest Rights Act in right earnest.
According to the pact between AK Antony and CK Janu, the chairperson of the Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha, signed in 2003, the government is obliged to distribute up to five acres of land for the adivasi families following the Muthanga agitations, which were later called the mile stone in the history of adivasis in the state.