K.C.R. led TRS Govt. has launched an all out offensive against the tribals in Telengana to dispossess them of their podu lands. Big police contingents are being sent along with forest officials to destroy crops in tribal lands, to get trenches dug to dispossess the tribals and unleash cruel repression against tribals wherever they resist the Govt. offensive. Even women and elderly are not spared by the force sent by KCR Govt.
Tribals are resisting this offensive which is depriving them their means of livelihood, their habitat and their traditional vocations. They are coming forward in struggles through demonstrations, rallies, processions and resisting the digging of trenches and destruction of crops. Tribals are being attacked by the police sent by KCR Govt. In these attacks tribals have sustained injuries, tribal women ill treated, tribal women and men framed and arrested in false cases, tribal houses burnt in several villages and tribal life disturbed in the vast areas. Forest areas of Khammam and Warangal have emerged as the centres of the resistance to this Govt. offensive though the offensive is against the tribals throughout the state.
To carry this attack through KCR Govt. is targeting CPI(ML)-New Democracy which has been organizing tribals in Telengana for several decades. Govt. officials are openly threatening to physically liquidate leaders who have been leading struggles of tribals in the area for decades, police and administration opening old cases against party cadres some of which are more than a decade old and targeting party supporters for destruction of crops. KCR Govt.’s attack against CPI(ML)-New Democracy is basically part of its attack on the tribal people. KCR whose TRS had come to power on the strength of the movement for separate state of Telengana in which a large number of people had given huge sacrifices and in which CPI(ML)-New Democracy had played a very important role, is now targeting all the forces which stand for the people’s rights. Rather than fulfilling aspirations of the people of Telengana who had struggled for the separate state, KCR Govt. is attacking them and is targeting the tribal people and the forces fighting for them. Rather than allotting pattas to tribals and other traditional forest dwellers according to Forest Rights Act of 2006, KCR Govt. is unleashing a reign of terror on the tribals. KCR had promised before the elections to give every tribal family a minimum of 3 acres of land, a promise which he conveniently forgot after coming to power.
KCR Govt. started this offensive from March 2016 ostensibly in the name of “protecting the forests” and “green belt”. The ruling parties go out of their way to hand over tribal inhabited areas to MNCs and corporate but target tribals for protection of forests. Tribals are traditional protectors of forests and attacks of ruling class parties such as KCR’s attack on tribals of Telengana, are part of their attacks on the people, to clear the forests of these traditional protectors so that these may be handed over to corporate vultures. Obviously, KCR Govt. is only mouthing such phrases to hide its anti-tribal character. Since June 2016, KCR Govt. is sending large police forces along with forest officials to destroy the crops of tribals and dispossess them. These police parties are raiding the tribal villages. When tribals at a number of centres resisted this offensive, KCR is reported to have ordered to take more police to the villages but destroy the tribal crops at any cost.
A large number of villages have been targeted and raided. Forest areas of Kothagudem and Palvancha divisions in Khammam district and Mulugu, Narsampet and Mehboobabad divisions in Warangal district have been targeted by KCR Govt. in this offensive. In Khammam district, tribal villages in Yellandu, Tekulapalli, Gondala, Bangaruchalaka, Chandragonda, Bayyaram, Pinapaka, Palvancha, Korukonda, Dhammapet and Bhadrachalam mandals have been targeted.
In Warangal district, police has burnt down tribal huts/houses (of Gotta Koyas) in Mulugu area. Police torched 12 huts of tribals in Neeladaripet of Mangapet mandal, 10 huts in Boomaigudem and 7 huts in Chintalagudem. Burning down of the tribal huts is ample proof of the anti-tribal mindset of KCR Govt. Another incident demonstrating the anti-tribal mindset is closing of wells in Pakala Kothagudem mandal of Warangal district. These wells were used for irrigation in 10 tribal villages of the mandal.
KCR Govt. has neither given pattas for tribal land under FRA 2006 nor fulfilled its election promise. In this anti-tribal offensive, KCR Govt. has not bothered about even the legal rights already with tribal people. In Namadapadu of Kothapet village, patta certificates were given for 1100 acre land over 20 years back. Now the forest officials are trying to occupy even this land. In Marrigudem crops were destroyed by forest officials and police despite stay. It is obvious that KCR Govt. is not bothered even about legalities in this offensive against tribals.
Where-ever forest officials along with police force raided the tribal villages, tribals resisted and women played a very important role in this resistance. In Mittapally women opposed forest officials and police destroying their crops in 200 acres on June 15. Police resorted to lathi-charge in which a number of women were injured. Next day, on June 16, a large police force raided the village, arrested 29 women and foisted false cases against them. They were ill-treated in the police lock-up. 1500 women from this and nearby villages protested against the police brutality.
Tribals are resisting in village after village. In Bhadrutanda village of Polaram panchayat and Ompugudem village of Manikyaram pancharat, in RCpeta, in Repalliwada of Kumhraram panchayat, people resisted the police and forest officials and tried to prevent them from digging trenches. In Oddugudem of Tekulapalli mandal police attacked the people opposing occupation of their podu lands by the police and forest officials. In Kasturinagar in Bayyaram mandal people resisted the police and saved their podu lands. Police has foisted a false case against 6 peasants. Similarly tribals in 8 villages in Pakala Kothagudem in Warangal district defended their lands resisting police attacks. There are socres of such examples in different mandals of Khammam and Warangal districts.
Police has arrested over 100 people and foisted false cases against them. Number of people have been injured in police actions. In Shandnagar, a peasant named Mangaiah went into coma due to police beating. In Yellandu mandal, a peasant reportedly committed suicide after his crop was destroyed by the police.
These attacks are part of a general offensive of KCR Govt. against tribals whose aim is to dispossess tribals from their podu lands. All the forest areas are in the ambit of this offensive though it may unfold in gradual manner. In this offensive, KCR Govt. is backed by Modi Govt. BJP Govts. in their own states are attacking tribals deploying huge police and paramilitary forces.
Though people have successfully resisted in most of the cases where forest officials and police attacked their lands. However, state govt. is sending more forces to these villages. This struggle of tribals for their means of livelihood and their habitat needs and deserves to be supported by all progressive and democratic sections of the people and organizations. It is the fight of tribals against anti-tribal KCR Govt.