All-India Adivasi Mahasabha calls for unity among tribals

Smita Gupta

‘In democracy, solution must come from peaceful exercise of people's power'
“Creamy layer” in tribal community must help fight poverty and illiteracy

New Delhi: The All-India Adivasi Mahasabha, on the first day of its three-day long conference here on Monday at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium, stressed the need to unite the diverse tribal communities from across the country to gain a voice in Delhi, as a starting point to controlling their own destinies – and their land, water and forests.
In his speech, Meghalaya Governor R.S. Moosahary told delegates: “Let us unite all tribal groups so that we can compete – this is a competitive world.” Calling on the “creamy layer” in the tribal community to understand the aspirations of those less fortunate, he asked them to help fight poverty and illiteracy.
Appeal to Maoists
Criticising the government, Mr. Moosahary said poor administration and corruption in parts of the country had created Maoism. Making an appeal to the Maoists, he said, “You may be fighting for a good cause but you cannot get anywhere by killing innocents. In a democracy, the solution must come from the peaceful exercise of people's power – look at the example of Egypt.” Referring to the Indian Constitution, he said, “The Indian Constitution is a flexible document – short of Independence, you can get virtually anything.”
The national conference is being jointly organised by the Indian Confederation of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ICITP), an umbrella organisation overseeing over 310 issue-based tribal communities' organisations along with various other tribal forums. The meeting hopes to exert pressure on the government to properly implement laws such as Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, the Forest Rights Act and other pro- tribal laws, as well as strategise to address emerging challenges for the tribal communities as well as to protect tribal cultural identities.
The conference will focus on issues related to land laws and land alienation, development induced displacement, forest and encroachment and eviction, extremism in Adivasi areas, poverty and migration, among others. It also plans to look at the different laws enacted in the country for the welfare of the tribals and decide how to take advantage of laws such as the Right to Information (RTI), PESA and the FRA.