Tribals put up huts, stick to their demand
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, SEPT. 19. Huts and `relief camps' were put up in front of the Secretariat today by activists of the Adivasi- Dalit Action Council spearheading the Adivasi agitation which entered the 21st day today. Adivasis who reached the Secretariat in a procession, cooked food on the road and occupied the huts as part of the agitation.
Meanwhile, the Adivasi leader, Ms. C.K. Janu, told presspersons in the evening that they would put up huts on the Secretariat premises if the Government fails to find an amicable solution to their problems. Though eight persons have died during the last 20 days (due to starvation), so far, the agitation has been peaceful. She said that the Adivasis would never resort to violent means. Any other agitation would not have passed off peacefully for such a long time. The Government was trying to stifle the movement through a malicious campaign by alleging that Naxalites were behind the agitation, she said.
The Adivasi leader condemned the statements of the Cooperation Minister, Mr. M.V. Raghavan, and the Revenue Minister, Mr. K.M. Mani. The demand is to grant five acres to each of the landless tribal families and there is no question of going back on the demands, she reiterated. Laws to protect the land from further transactions should also be framed by the Government, she said. Out of the 70,000 Adivasi families in the State, 45,000 are landless.
The Government can provide five acres of land to each family if there is 2.5 lakh acres of land. This would not lead to any financial burden on the Government, she said. If the Government intends to politically confront the agitation, the Adivasis, Dalits and the public are making preparations to resist the move politically, she added. An Adivasi-Dalit State convention to be held here on October 3 would give shape to plans to make the agitation more political. The agitation would be intensified and would include more tribals, she said.