Andhra Pradesh

NHRC takes note of ‘assault on tribal people by forest staff’

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken cognizance of a complaint on the alleged physical assault of Gutti Koya tribal families by the Kunavaram Forest Range staff in East Godavari district.

According to a complaint lodged by Rights Watch (Andhra Pradesh) president Balu Akkisa, a 15-member forest team led by Kunavaram Ranger P. Mohini Vijaya Lakshmi had allegedly physically assaulted the Gutti Koya tribal families before demolishing three thatched huts and setting fire to two other huts belonging to them at Kotha Kotturu village in Chintooru mandal on April 13 evening.

The NHRC was urged to provide compensation and entitlement over the piece of land for the tribal families and legal action against the forest staff.

Video clip

In a video clip of the purported incident, a copy of which is with The Hindu, the forest staff led by Ms. Mohini Vijaya Lakshmi were seen physically assaulting a tribal woman. The victims also claimed in the video that they have been living on the same site for over two decades.

The mud-walled huts demolished with machinery belonged to the families of Madakam Devaiah, M. Iramaiah and P. Aidayya. The two huts that were allegedly set afire belonged to Kovvasi Muvvayya and Madakam Aidayya families.

“The way the forest officials behaved with the Gutti Koya tribals is inhuman. The families are entitled to a right over the piece of land on which they had built houses and have been living for more than two decades, as per the Scheduled Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights-RoFR) Act, 2006,” according to Mr. Akkisa.

The Chintooru police have registered a case against the forest staff and investigation is on.

Deepening conflict

Ganjivaram Srinivas, a Visakhapatnam-based tribal rights’ activist, said, “This incident is a clear case of deepening of the conflict over the right over forest land for habitation between the Forest Department and tribals, despite RoFR being in force since 2006 to solve such conflicts.”


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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 1:21:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/nhrc-takes-note-of-assault-on-tribal-people-by-forest-staff/article31384186.ece

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