A new agitation is emerging in tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh. It’s against the acquisition of fertile land of 32 villages for establishment of UltraTech Cement factory in Manawar, district Dhar.
It’s a unique agitation that has taken shape entirely on social media. Highly educated tribal youth, comprising of practicing doctors, engineers, government employees and entrepreneurs have effectively utilised Facebook and WhatsApp to organise tens of thousands of members of tribal population.
These extraordinarily brilliant young professionals are studying the Constitution of India, spreading awareness among illiterate brethren regarding the promises made to the tribal community by the Constitution. Instead of feeling helpless and resorting to violent means, they feel empowered by the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution and are fighting for its effective implementation.
Such large scale mobilisation of educated youth has perhaps happened for the first time in the tribal community to agitate and change. And the clickety-clack sounds of typing on mobile keypads has now grown into deafening roar of tribal crowds, who have gathered in the shadows of UltraTech Cement factory. Tribal organisations of more than ten states have joined them.
More than ten tribal organizations have come together against land acquisition by UltraTech in Manawar.
Mobilised entirely through social media messaging, tens of thousands of tribals are against the eviction and displacement of fellow tribals from fertile lands acquired by the factory, called as ‘Company’ in the local areas. They quote the special privileges of Fifth Schedule, Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Actand Land Acquisition Act to claim their rights, which guarantee that tribal land cannot be taken away without consent, that agricultural land is to be replaced by agricultural land, that one person of each family must be employed by the company and that the project must provide for school and hospital. All that was promised by the government, but not delivered. Yet, the demolition of their houses has begun, the farming tribals are being forcefully evicted and their fields are dug up so that they can’t cultivate.
The illiterate tribals are in tears, with nowhere to go. But this time, they are not alone. The educated youth of their community is standing by their side, using its education, its awareness and technical prowess to develop a unique agitation. An agitation that is angry, yet peaceful.
It’s a confident gathering of over twenty thousand tribal people at Manawar, almost a fourth of whom are women. Called as ‘AadivasiMahapanchayat’, it is organised by Jai AadiwasiYuva Shakti (JAYS), a four year old organisation that was formed over WhatsApp, whose one of the founders is Dr. Hiralal Alawa, a Doctor in his mid-thirties, who served as Assistant Professor at AIIMS, Delhi.
JAYS has mobilised over twenty Aadivasiorganisations from about ten states across India. Such bonhomie must have warned the powers that be. They must sit up and take note of the voices that are emerging from these villages. The agitation is seeking the resolution within the Constitutional framework. They must be heard and addressed, lest their faith in the Constitution of India remains infallible and rooted in positive experiences.