Chhattisgarh Migrant Tribals Face Deportation in PA, Telangana | Latest India News
Hyderabad: Hundreds of Adivasis who migrated from conflict-torn areas of Chhattisgarh to the border areas of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh more than 10-15 years ago are again facing homelessness.
Forestry authorities have launched a campaign to clear the homes of tribesmen in the Bhadradri Kothagudem district of Telangana and the East and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh, pressuring them to return to Chhattisgarh. Forest officials, however, say they drive people out of forested areas to prevent them from felling trees and clearing the area for cultivation.
Sodi Sukaiya migrated from Korra hamlet of Sukma district in Chhattisgarh in 2002. On February 13 this year, authorities destroyed his farmland in Enguppanagar hamlet of Mukmamidi gram panchayat hamlet of Bhadradri Kothagudem district and prevented him from entering their farms.
Although he arrived in 2022, Sukaiya still does not own any land in the area. He started farming on cleared land by cutting down trees deep in the forest. “Now there is no livelihood for us for a week,” Sukaiya told HT.
Sodi Iramaiah of Chinturu block in East Godavari district adjoining Chhattisgarh is in the same situation. He lamented that the Forest Department destroyed some of the houses in his hamlet of Kothuru.
According to tribal rights activist Shubhranshu Choudhary, who heads a non-governmental organization called “The New Peace Process”, forestry authorities in the two states have already raided about 70 villages.
“They prevent migrant Adivasis from engaging in cultivation inside the forests and pressure them to leave their hamlets and return to their places of origin in Chhattisgarh,” Choudhary said.
However, getting back there can be a challenge. For more than half a decade, these forests have become the home of these migrants. Faced with violence between the security forces and the Maoists, these Adivasis – now called internally displaced persons (IDPs) – chose to migrate to more peaceful areas.
“In the morning we were beaten by the police on the pretext that we were providing food to the Maoists and at night the Maoists attacked us because we had provided information to the police about their movements,” recalls a 35-year-old man. . Ravva Madaiah, who migrated from Sukma district in 2006 and settled at Cheepurugudem in the inner forest area of Kukkunuru block in West Godavari district.
According to Shubhranshu, there are at least 270 IDP settlements in the two Telugu states, including 147 in Bhadradri Kothagudem district of Telangana, with a total population of at least 30,000 people.
The majority of the adivasis — Koyas, Gothi Koyas, Murias and Gonds — refuse to return. “We are safe here. Why should we go back and be caught in the crossfire of the Maoists and the police again? We have no attachment to Chhattisgarh now,” Madaiah says.
Children from these tribal settlements also attend schools run by local NGOs. In Chintakunta settlement of Burgampahad block in Bhadradri Kothagudem district, the Integrated Tribal Development Authority (ITDA) runs a small school called “Bala Velugu” for the children of migrants from Chhattisgarh.
Kalma Mangai (27), who ran away from his home village in Dantewada district in 2010, completed his class 12 in Arlagudem tribal area of Dummugudem block in Khammam district, before leaving settle in Cheepurugudem.
Today, several members of the community have approached the government of Andhra and Telangana to obtain pattas for the forest land they cultivate.
Forest department officials confirm the campaign is ongoing and say they are just doing their job. “The tax authorities gave them ration cards and Aadhaar cards. The government can even give them pattas for revenue land. But these people are bent on living only inside the forests, so they can cut down the trees and occupy large areas for cultivation,” P Mohini Vijayalakshmi, Kunavaram Rangeland Manager, told the border of Bhadrachalam.
“We have sympathy for them, but we have to do our duty. We cannot allow them to destroy forests. We have to respect the law of the land,” she added.
P Goutham, Bhadradri Kothagudem’s Integrated Tribal Development Authority (ITDA) Project Manager, could not be reached for comment on the rehabilitation of these tribal migrants.