Shortage is fodder for violence in tribal areas
DAHOD (GUJARAT): The tribal region of Central Gujarat is facing a severe shortage of fodder leading to tension and a law and order problem in the area.
Tribals resorted to road blockade, stone-throwing and assault on government officials and demonstrations at government-run fodder distribution centres all across this tribal dominated district last fortnight. Though many of these incidents are being dismissed by officials as politically motivated, but inability of the government to provide adequate fodder for starving animals only show the inept handling of the situation.
About 3,000 angry tribals fought a pitched battle with police and the non-tribal population in the Fatehpura due to delay in distribution of fodder at the government fodder outlet. Two police were injured and two motorcycles belonging to cops were torched. Tribal mobs also looted two shops. The incident was followed by stone-throwing at fodder distribution centre in Jhalod, just 25 kms from Fatehpura. While 2000 farmers had turned up for fodder though the government stock was hardly sufficient for 500 and each wanted at least one `ghasari' weighing 100 kg. ``But the stock of fodder was hardly sufficient for 500 persons'', conceded Ramesh Parmar, deputy tehsildar (scarcity) of Jhalod taluka. ``That led to the problem'', he added.
Wasia-Jhalod road was blocked last Friday by tribals angry over inaduequate supply of fodder. On Sunday they took to violence in Dhanpur town of the district when officials of the fodder distribution outlet did not turn up till 1 pm though the distribution was to begin at 8 am. Violence was also reported from the fodder distribution centre in Suksar.
Tribal violence over fodder has become a nightmare for the police. A senior police official holds ``mismanagement'' of the district administration for much of the trouble. ``police finds itself in a catch-22 situation. If we we use baton on tribals, they will turn against us. And if we turn a blind eye to the happeneings, we are gunned by the state government'', the official stated. According to another police official, problem starts when supplies are not distributed at the time given by the administration. ``Even senior officials connected with fodder distribution are not available at centres to explain the villagers about the reason of shortage'', said the official.
Some officials say the poliitcal rivalry between the Congress, well entreched in the district panchayats, and Bharatiya Janata Party trying to make a dent in this Congress stronghold was largely responbsible for the violent situation. Congress controls six of the seven Assembly seats and heads the recently elected district panchayat and all the taluka panchayats in the district.
Whatever be the reason for the current violence, fodder is not avialable. Even district admdinistration officials admit it. District Collector K I Vasava said taht ``demand much exceeds the supply, leading to unpleasant situations''. The daily supply of fodder, according to Vasava, is just three lakh kgs against the demand of eight to nine lakh kgs. Explaining the reason, he said supplies came from Valsad and some districts in Maharashtra. Fodder was supplied aat a highly subsidised rate. While the purchase and transport cost amopunted to Rs 3 per kg, it was sold to farmers at Rs. one kg only. Market rate was Rs three to Rs four a kg, a highly prohibitive price for poor tribals missing the monsoon for the two consecutive years.