Chhattisgarh Report: - Naxal and Demolition of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram by the local authorities in Kanwalnar near Dantewada on May 17th 2009
All India fact finding team to study the nature of the problems faced by the people of Chhattisgrah in the context of the Maoist activIties in the region and the demolition of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram by the local authorities in Kanwalnar near Dantewada on May 17th 2009, met the Governor of Chhattisgarh ,E S Narasimhan ,in Raipur today. The team submitted a memorandum based on their visit to Kanwalnar, Dantewada and several interior areas of Dantewada and Bijaupur districts.
The team ,which did the fact finding from May 29th to May 31st,, met Gandhian social activist running the VCA, Himanshu Kumar, Manish Kunjam, former MLA of the CPI , and the SP , Dantewada ,Rahul Sharma . The team visited the demolition site and spoke to various people ( villagers, civil society activists , and local media persons ) in Kanwalnar, Lingagiri, Basagudha, Kamaram, Bijapur and Dantewada. All of them confirmed and acclaimed the constructive work that the VCA has been doing in the region for the last 17 years. The Governor assured that he would look into the points made in the Memorandum.
On the basis of the interaction with the local community and authorities, the team members strongly suspect that the vindictive attitude shown by the authorities in demolishing the Ashram, when the issue of its encroachment was pending in the court, stemmed from the fact that the VCA's founder had raised his voice against human rights violations in the fight against Maoists and opposed the Salwa Judum campaign.
MEMORANDUM ON DEMOLITION OF VANVASI CHETNA ASHRAM ON MAY 17 2009
The Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA) was implementing various government schemes in the area including Mitanin health programme , watershed development, water and sanitation programme in villages and Salwa judum camps and Himanshu Kumar was also on various government committees including district legal aid committee. It is inexplicable why an ashram run by him should have been demolished.
We think the government should have been grateful to him as he has been doing this constructive work in the region for the last 17 years, without any vested interest. As the matter of land is subjudice the action of the demolition of the ashram by the district administration was unwarranted.
The authorities' contention that the land which was earlier agricultural land in government records was changed to revenue forest land , is unprecendented, We think that the due process was not followed in this case.
The VCA was engaged in the important task of resettling the internally displaced persons in their original villages which no government agency had undertaken inspite of the Supreme Courts instruction to the CG government .
The team spoke to various persons ( villagers, civil society activists and local media persons ) in Kanwalnar, Lingagiri, Basagudha, Kamaram, Bijapur and Dantewada.All of them confirmed and acclaimed the constructive work that the VCA has been doing in the region
The resettled villagers need immediate provision of facilities like PDS, primary health, primary education and ;public transport . We hope the government would do the needful in this regard without delay.
We sincerely hope the authorities would take remedial measures at the earliest to mitigate the problems of the VCA and enable to it continue its constructive work in the area.
Magasaysay award winner, Social Activist- Dr Sandeep Pandey, Lucknow
President Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha ( CMM), former MLA-Janak Lal Thakur, Dalli- Rajhara
Senior Journalist Editor Mainstream- Sumit Chakravartty, New Delhi
Human Rights Lawyer and Women Rights Activist- Adv Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai
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