Karnataka

‘Trespassing’, collecting honey among charges against Nagarahole tribal people

Between 2001 and 2011, as many as 192 cases were registered against tribal communities living in and around Nagarahole National Park. But their “offenses”, which include trespassing forest land, collecting honey and growing ginger in the forest, are, in fact, their rights enshrined in the Forest Rights Act.

A report by a High Court-appointed committee on the status of tribal communities in and around Nagarahole, submitted recently to the Karnataka government, speaks of the “absurdity” of cases booked against tribal people for “trespassing” forests, which they have been living inside for generations.

Booking a large number of cases against tribal people is part of a historical culture of “violence” against the communities, which “takes on different forms,” says the report by the committee, chaired by political studies professor at the University of Mysore Muzaffar Assadi. In the 1970s, it took the form of multiple displacements for tribal families and also the destruction of their homes, crops and settlements “so as to erase their historical presence in the forest region”.

Prosecuting tribal communities for living in and using forests is a violation of the Forest Rights Act that gives them rights over land and forest resources, says Nitin Rai of Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment. “The Act was enacted to rectify the immense historical injustices reaped on Adivasis and forest-dwellers. Draconian conservation laws have criminalised everyday life of Adivasis, who have lived in these forests for centuries.” But ironically, these very laws are constantly bent for industrial and infrastructural projects, he said.

‘Withdraw cases’

All pending cases against tribal people booked on “flimsy ground” should be withdrawn to help build trust between them and the political apparatus, says the report. An advocates’ collective should be appointed to fight cases of tribal people in different courts, it adds.

Cases booked also pertained to setting fire to the forest, to poaching wildlife and birds, and felling trees.


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 5:03:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/trespassing-collecting-honey-among-charges-against-nagarahole-tribal-people/article6376823.ece

Next Story