Criminal Action should be taken immediately against the officials of Majhauli in Sidhi Dist. MP for the reprehensible demolition of Adivasi homes

6th April, 2021: National Alliance of People’s Movements condemns the violation of the right to shelter of families from Gond and Baiga Adivasi communities, whose homes were demolished without prior notice on 1st April, 2021, in Durjan Tola of Nebuha, the gram panchayat of Majhauli District Panchayat, Madhya Pradesh.  

The families had been living in houses built on government land for at least 3 generations. They have also been waiting for decades to receive pattas for the land, but the revenue authorities did not grant them any land rights and titles. However, only a few days before the demolition, they received a fine for land occupation, which shows that they are acknowledged to have occupation even in the absence of the patta.  

Instead of providing the pattas, JCBs were brought in without any prior notice, by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) accompanied by the local police force, to demolish their houses and reportedly make way for some industrial / commercial construction. Of the four families, three are in effect landless. 

On the one hand, the MP Government claims that it would provide formal titles to Adivasis who can demonstrate occupation of their land for an extended period of time. On the other hand, in this case, the homes of already poor and marginalized communities were destroyed and, according to reports, women and children were subjected to inhumane treatment while being accused of ‘illegally occupying’ state land. 

Not only do the families belong to the scheduled adivasi communities, protected by the President, as per law of the land, but Baiga adivasi communities are also included under the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), and they should ideally be offered special protections, rather than being designated ‘encroachers’. Instead, they are now compelled to live sheltered only by a tree canopy, on the site of the demolition. 

In response to media coverage and pressure from local organizations, the SDM has reached out via the panchayat secretary, on 4th April, offering the affected families homes under the Awas Yojana. This response is in itself insufficient. The government should survey and identify all families in similar situations within the district, and ensure that they are provided pattas for the land they occupy.

We condemn the repressive action taken by the police and revenue officials of Majhauli, by favouring industrialists and denying the right to shelter which is a constitutionally guaranteed right. Such an act by administrative authorities against vulnerable people and communities is atrocious and criminal cases should be filed against the culprits. 

We demand that:

(i) houses for the families are constructed under the Awas Yojana as promised, within a stipulated time period.

(ii) formal pattas are immediately issued to the affected families as well as to all other families in the area in similar situations, based on a proper survey and  identification process. 

(iii) the officials who authorized and carried out these demolitions are suspended from service and criminal proceedings are initiated against them, under SC & ST (PoA)

Update via Umesh Tiwari Sidhi (MP), Roko Toko Krantikari Morcha and NAPM – Madhya Pradesh, Sidhi – Singrauli

NAPM India