Tribals fear retaliation by STF

CHENNAI: The tribals of Thalavadi are a concerned lot. After deposing before the Sadavisam Commission, which investigated the excesses of the Special Task Force formed to nab sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, they are now afraid of retaliation.

Regrouped under the head of former DGP W I Dewaram, the STF now has more money and power, said Vienne of Thalavadi in Erode district. Presenting a study on the status of Adivasis at a seminar on ``Forest Resources And the Live and Livelihoods of Adivasis'' organised by Adivasi Solidarity Council of New Entity for Social Action, he said the tribals are doubtful of the STF now.

``The STF had indulged in indiscriminate shooting, maiming while torturing the tribals. They had also raped tribal women during their interrogation. These incidents had come down during the last five years and a few of them were given compensation by the National Human Rights Commission. But now the STF could wreak vengeance on tribals, especially those who deposed before the commission,'' he said.

Though human rights organisation had filed a case against installation of Dewaram as STF chief, the courts have adjourned it, he said while seeking expeditious disposal of the case.

Adivasis from Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu came together to discuss issues and demands. The atrocities of Forest Department staff, lack of welfare schemes, inclusion of tribal-majority areas into the Fifth schedule of the Constitution, were discussed at the meeting.

The tribals said that the states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had not implemented the Panchayati Raj Extension to Scheduled Areas Act. This Act will politically empower the tribals with gram sabhas, said Edwin from NESA. Activists and tribals alike sought restoration of traditional rights of forest workers and right to common property resources, removal of contract system, control of managing forest resources to local communities and amendment to sections of Forest Act.

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Referred by:Mukundan CM
Published on: July 14, 2001
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