Nationwide protest on November 17 for rights of tribals, forest dwellers

New Delhi: The Campaign for Survival and Dignity of Tribals and Forest Dwellers on Thursday gave a call for a nationwide protest in the state capitals and important cities on November 17 against the Centre taking steps to crush rights of over 10 crore living in the forests.

In a statement after a 2-day meeting here, the organisation claimed the government was planning amendment to the Indian Forest Act to empower the forest officials to arrest without warrant, raid and search without warrant, confiscate properties and extinguishing the people's right by just paying cash and shooting down the forest dwellers.

"Confession to a forest officer will be admissible as evidence in court, something that is not even true under the anti-terror laws," it said, noting that once the law is enacted, any tribal or forest dweller in the country can by law be arrested, deprived of their rights, or even killed by forest officials on the basis of suspicion alone.

It pointed out that the government had remained silent in the Supreme Court to let it direct eviction of millions of families from the forests. It said the protests on November 17 will include Mumbai, Bhopal, Raipur, Bhubaneshwar, Gandhinagar as also at Udaipur, Gadchiroli and Dehradun, followed by a rally in Delhi on November 21 under the banner of the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan.

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