Recently a contingent of 23 Dalit and Adivasi forest workers from Lakhimpur Khikri, Sonbhadra and Manikpur arrived in New Delhi to express solidarity with people protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The visiting contingent comprised members of the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP).
Just like the protests at Shaheen Bagh are predominantly led by women, the movement for forest rights in Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra region has been spearheaded by women. AIUFWP deputy general secretary Roma Malik, as well as senior union members like Sokalo Gond, Rajkumari Bhuiya, Kismatiya Gond and many others, met with protesters at Shaheen Bagh, where folk singers from Sonbhadra also sang songs of protest.
Amir Khan, an activist working with the union said, “The Indian state is playing same tactics to exclude or disenfranchise these oppressed groups despite Forest Rights Act 2006, which guaranteed their claim over the forest and its resources through Individual and Community Forest claim. There is a similar pattern of NRC wherein they have been asked to share their 3 generations documents i.e. 75-year land records to have a claim on their Forest and its resources.”
On Sunday, a group of women protesters from Shaheen Bagh also organized a rally to march to the Ministry of Home Affairs. “After Amit Shah offered to talk to protesters to help the protesters gain better understanding of CAA, the protesting women including ‘dadis’ decided to tell him that they were neither ignorant nor confused about the CAA. They know that it is unconstitutional and want it to be scrapped. In fact, they said they could help Amit Shah understand the Constitution. That is why they wanted to march to the MHA,” said Khan explaining the reason behind yesterday’s rally. But the police prevented the protesters from marching to the MHA. “First, he offers to talk, then he does not come to meet the protesters, and when they try to visit him, the police who reports to him, stop them,” Khan wonders aloud.
The story was first published on the Sabrang media portal.