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Why Are Tribals, Dalits Demanding Two Key Ordinances: Today's Bharat Bandh Explained

The tribals who were disappointed with the BJP Led government for not defending their rights in the top court have now stated that the bandh would be called off only if their rights under the Forest Rights Act is safeguarded.


Updated:March 5, 2019, 1:29 PM IST
Why Are Tribals, Dalits Demanding Two Key Ordinances: Today's Bharat Bandh Explained
(Image: News18)

New Delhi: Tribal and Dalit rights organisations have called for an all-India bandh on Tuesday against the Supreme Court's eviction order from their habitat. Though the court had put a stay on its order after the petition by the Centre, the tribal groups are of the opinion that it is a temporary relief in the absence of a law and are demanding that the Centre bring in an ordinance to ensure their rights are protected.

News18 dissects a few questions around the bandh:

What was the Supreme Court order of February all about?

In a significant order, the Supreme Court on February 13 has ordered the eviction of over 10 lakh tribals and other traditional forest dwellers from forest lands across 16 Indian states. The move came after the Central government failed to defend the Forest Rights Act, which protects their rights.

Later it was understood from the written order that the number of tribals who will eventually end up getting evicted from their homes will rise as more and more states will be made to comply with the Supreme Court’s order.

There was more palpable anger among the tribals because, reportedly, the Centre’s lawyers were absent from the hearing that day, which led the three-judge bench to pass the order, thereby giving states date till July 27 to evict tribals.

But why did not a later order by the top court diffuse the bandh sentiment?

The Centre on February 27 filed a plea in the apex court to modify its February 13 order permitting states to temporarily withhold eviction of around 1.89 million tribal and other forest-dwelling families. The Centre has asked the three-judge bench to give the states time to file detailed affidavits on the implementation of FRA. Accordingly, the February 13 order was stayed and the court has now also directed to investigate if at all the claims of the tribals to those lands had been properly adjudicated or not.

However, according to tribals who are organizing the protest in Madhya Pradesh are now scared that they would be denied pattas for the land they occupy and that lands may be taken over by the government.

How has the bandh been promoted and what are the demands?

The tribals who were disappointed with the BJP Led government for not defending their rights in the top court has now stated that the bandh would be called off only if their rights under the Forest Rights Act is safeguarded.

The other point is that of reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in universities.

According to the University Grant Commission's new 13-point roster system, individual departments and not universities or colleges will be considered as the unit for implementing reservation for SC/ST or OBC in appointments for faculty positions Many have said that this will drastically cut the number of posts reserved for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes. Dalits, Adivasis and the Other Backward Classes who have been accorded 15%, 7.5% and 27% reservation respectively. Hence, if the unit under consideration is small, there will be no scope for ensuring reservation.

The tribal groups also demand an ordinance that will overturn the January Allahabad High Court's ruling where it was held that reservation in faculty posts in universities should be applied department-wise and not by treating the university as one unit.

Any other specific demand that is being made?

They have also demanded that the government establish the Indian Judicial Services under Article 312 of the Constitution, for recruitment in higher judiciary posts to ensure inclusion of SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities and women.

What are the specific ordinances that they want to be promulgated?

The tribals demand that the Centre promulgate two ordinances to secure their rights that have been affected by Supreme Court decisions: the first to secure the forest rights of tribals, and the second to ensure fair representation in UGC faculty posts.

Any Specific state with significant tribal population not part of the strike?

The Confederation of Nagaland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CNCCI) has clarified that no Bharat bandh has been called in the state on March 5. It was further state that Districts Chamber of Commerce and Industry was informed to “direct businesses establishment within their jurisdiction to continue their business as usual” and tell the public not to be confused.

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| Edited by: Aditya Sharma
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