Monday, November 24, 2008

Join UPLA Padyatra for land rights of Tharus

Padyatra : Land, Dignity and Freedom

Participate and support people's initiative for strengthening tribal rights for livelihood

Dear Friends,
The Tarai region of Uttar-Pradesh is bordering with Nepal as well as the state of Uttarakhand is the land of Tharus, Boxas and Tongias. These communities are living in forests for hundred of years but today face threat for dislocation in the name of preseveration of forest and balancing ecological order. What an irnony that the protectors of forests are termed as a threat to forest. Many of the Tharu villages have already been destroyed by the forest officials. A powerful matrilineal community like Tharus are facing severe economic hardship. The culture of Tharuhut is visible in Lakhimpur Khiri, Banbasa, Sitarganj, Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar districts of both Uttar-Pradesh and Uttarakhand state. Due to negligence of the state authorities, the Tharus remained on margins and thoroughly isolated. There are no educational instituions in the areas. As most of them live in and around forest villages, the forest departments and its officials use Tharus as a tool to extract money. Adjecent to these areas is famous ' Dhuwa National Park'.
Tharus were owners of the forests. So were Boxas. Very little is known about their culture and history. In this region, the Tharus consider them as legatess of Rana Pratap. Their traditional land remain mortgaged to big land owners, the Sikhs from Punjab who have been responsible for a complete demographic change in the region. The Sikhs were located here by the government during the partition days but over the years the community have used their 'wisdom' to extract land from the illterate and poor tribals, the result is the growth of big and illegal farm houses in the region. Even when the land can not be sold to no tribal in this region, you will find to your utter surprise that Tharus and Boxas have become virtually beggers and slaves in their own land.
Apart from this, Dalit communities in Uttarakhadn state face complete isolation socially as well as politically. The battle for Escorts Farms limited in Kundeshwari reflect that anti Dalit stand of the Uttarakhand government. Despite winning the case in Supreme Court and reprimand by the Lokayukta, the government officials are shamlessly pursuing neo liberal agenda. Out 1167 hectares of land, they have distributed more than 450 to non Dalits and rest is going to horticulutre department and SIDCUL. The state authorities are hell bent not to give land to Dalits reflect the brahmanical nature of our state.
To raise the consciousness of these communities and highlight various such issues of land and forest rights violaion, Uttar-Pradesh Land Alliance is starting a foot march ( Padyatra) from December 13th, 2008. The Padyatra will begin from village Golbhojhi, Chandanchowki, Khiri district. It will cover many villages in the forest areas of Tharu locations. On 18th, it will enter Dhangarhi ( Nepal) where the Padyatris will halt for night and share their experiecnes with their Nepaliese counterparts.
The Padyatris will visit Mahendra Nagar, Nepal before entering to Banbasa, Uttarakhand in the night of December 20th. From there the Padyatra will visit the Tongia settlements in the forest areas who have not got their legal entitlment even years after living there. The yatra will cover, Khatima, Sisaikhera, Kichcha, Rudrapur, Kelakhaida and culminate at Kundeswari village, in Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar, where the Dalit landless workers have waged their constitutional fight against the mighty land owners and defeated them in the court of law and yet became victim of the highly insenstive Indian state for not implementation of the Supreme Court verdict, on December 28th, 2008.
Our Invitation : Uttar-Pradesh Land Allaince invite you to participate in the Yatra and donate in cash and kind for it. The weather conditions might be terribly cold so those who wish to participate here must bring their blankets and woolen cloths. Ofcourse, you will be able to see the Tharu hospility and wildlife. Dudhwa National Park is one of the biggest Wild Life Sanctury in the region. You will also find the uniquness of yatra entering Nepal and then to Uttarakhand and interact with the community people there also. UPLA remain committed to secular progressive ideals and is fighting against the caste oppression as well as women's right over resources hence our invitation extend to only those who respect basic human rights of communities and respect individual's right. We are committed to diversity and secular cause hence this invitation is not meant to those who want to flare of communal questions. More over, we believe that communities living for hundreds of years in forest can not be dislocated from their culture and history without fair consultation as well as rehabilitation in case it is essential. Please contact us in case you would like to participate or assist us. It is not necessary to be there for all 15 days but there is no bar on your stay. Our only thing is that the weatehr conditions will be unpredictable and severe cold, so those who enjoy naure and diversity, this is the right time. You must enjoy it and learn to live with communities and see how difficult they are facing their life. Yes, this Padyatra is a solidarity with all those communities who are denied human rights to live with dignity even 60 years after independence. It is our way to say that ' we care' for them and we stand with them in their struggles for dignity and human rights.
In Brief :
Date of starting : December 13th, 2008 at forest village Golbojhi, Chandanchowki, Khiri district UP
In Nepal on December 19th and 20th at Dhangarhi and Mahendra Nagar.
Entry in Uttarakhand through Banbasa on December 20th.
Culmination at : Kundeshwari, Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar district, on December 28th, 2008
For Uttar-Pradesh Land Alliance
Suman Singh,
Ms Munni Begum,
Vice President
Ram Chandra Prasad
Tharu Development Society
Uttarakhand Development Institute, Banbasa
Social Development Foundation,
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Social Development Foundation, Delhi

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