Denied land rights, tribal people lay siege to Nashik Collectorate

Updated - December 13, 2014 03:04 am IST

Published - December 13, 2014 03:00 am IST - Pune

Galled by administrative apathy over the years, hundreds of tribal people laid siege to the Nashik Collectorate in North Maharashtra on Thursday, demanding that their forest land rights be settled at the earliest.

Scores of disgruntled tribals from Nashik, Dhule, Nandurbar and Jalgaon stormed the Collector’s office carrying heaps of moth-eaten files as evidence of the insensitive treatment they had suffered at the hands of callous authorities.

In a novel protest, they sang songs in front of the Collector, while holding up the damaged records in the offices of the district tribal development commissioner. “The authorities repeatedly claimed that we never produced records to authenticate our claims. And all the while, our caste and birth certificates, which we had painstakingly submitted, had been rotting in the tribal development offices,” said one of the demonstrators, who had twice filed his claim for entitlement to land under the Forest Rights Act.

“We want answers to why our land claim files have been rotting, eaten by termites, in the offices in Nashik and Nandurbar,” said another agitator, protesting under the banner of the Lok Sangharsh Morcha.The protests sent the Nashik Collector Sanjeev Kumar and other district authorities into a tizzy. They spent the better part of Thursday and Friday assuring the protesters of swift action against errant officials.

The protesters relented after extracting firm promises from the Collector. The abysmal conditions of the tribals in Nandurbar were highlighted by a local television channel that reported that an Ashram Shala school in the district denied class 10 students their textbooks and clothes and served sub-standard meals.

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