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INDIA: Stop forced evictions of Gond tribals in the name of 'saving' tigers

INDIA: Stop forced evictions of Gond tribals in the name of 'saving' tigers

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This petition has been created by IPHRD N. and may not represent the views of the Avaaz community.
started this petition to
India's Minister of Tribal Affairs, Jual Oram, India's Minister of State of Tribal Affairs, Mansukh Bhai
Right now, more than 200 Gond tribals in Madhya Pradesh State of Central India are facing serious threat of forced evictions from their houses and lands for expansion of Panna Tiger Reserve. Local police and forest officials descended in their village on Saturday (19 Sep) and threatened to evict them forcefully if they do not vacate willfully in the next few days. The Gond people in the Umaravan village have long survived by living off their land and forests.

The Panna District Collector had served the Gonds legal notice to evict from in February with offer of cash compensation. When they objected to the notice, they were coerced to give consent without written or accurate information for their resettlement and livelihood alternatives. They have not accepted the compensation amounts forcefully deposited in their bank accounts. Many of them have received title deeds to their lands while others were awaiting decisions in village council process of land titling that was ongoing.

The Gonds are one of the largest tribal communities in central India. They have been guardians of the forests for generations. Ongoing efforts for acquisition of their lands to expand the Tiger Reserve is blatant violation of their rights as Scheduled Tribes under Forests Rights Act of India and as indigenous peoples under international laws. The Gonds and their advocate organizations/individuals have filed a writ petition at the State High Court demanding acquisition of Gond lands and expansion of the Tiger Reserve be halted and their rights be protect as per Forest Rights Act and other national laws of India. Hearing on the case is scheduled for 28 September. They have sent urgent appeal to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs for immediate intervention.

Sign and share the petition to urge the Government of India to take necessary steps, without delay, to stop forced evictions of indigenous Gond people from their lands and protect their rights over their lands, territories and resources, in consultation with them.

Updated information received on 23 September 2015

After the villager were served a notice to vacate the village from the Panna District Dollector in February, the district administration, in August, disconnected the electricity lines and other development facilities to the village and let loose elephants in the forest around Umravan village to create a situation of panic and force the tribals to flee the village.

Following the threats of local police and forest officials on 19 September, 51 off the 108 families have already left. The rest 57 families continue to insist that they will not leave their home, including 32 women and 30 children.

Update on 25 September 2015

On 25 September, Prithvi Trust; Mines, Minerals and People; Dhaatri Resource Centre for Women and Children and other organizations based in India, together with Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, submitted an urgent appeal concerning forced evictions of indigenous Gond people to Special Rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples, on human rights and environment and on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context. Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples has acknowledged the receipt of the appeal.

Posted (Updated )