Attack on Gugulothu Lakshmi and other tribal women farmers by forest officials in Telangana, IRAC demands immediate action

Taking strong note of the New Indian Express report titled “Telangana Forest Department staff attack tribals, 4 women injured” dated 1st October 2021, available at https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2021/oct/01/telangana-forest-department-staff-attack-tribals-4-women-injured-2366201.html, the Indigenous Rights Advocacy Centre (IRAC) has moved the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) against attack on Gugulothu Lakshmi and three other tribal women farmers by the forest officials with axes at Ambedkar Nagar in Bhandari Kothagudem district, Telangana on 30 September 2021.

According to this news report, “Tensions escalated at Ambedkar Nagar in Kothagudem district on Thursday, September 30, 2021, when forest officials armed with axes allegedly attacked a few tribal podu cultivators, contending that they were raising crops on a land parcel that belonged to the Forest Department.”

Reportedly, the forest officials were armed with axes and attacked tribal Podu farmers. In the attack, four tribal women sustained injuries and were shifted to the Kothagudem area hospital. Among the injured women, the condition of Gugulothu Lakshmi is reported to be critical. Podu cultivators alleged that the forest officials came to the fields they had been cultivating for 40 years and attacked the women with axes. On the other hand, forest officials lodged a complaint against eight women and a few others at the Two Town police station, alleging that they attacked forest officials who went to plant saplings in the forest land. The filing of false FIR against the members of the Scheduled Tribe is nothing but a ploy to silence them. The action of the forest 2 department constitutes an “atrocity” as defined under Section 3(1) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Section 3(1)(p) states that whoever not being SC/ST “institutes false, malicious or vexatious suit or criminal or other legal proceedings against a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe”, it is a punishable offence under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Further, assault on Tribal women by non-tribals is also a punishable offence under the same Act.

IRAC, therefore, sought the immediate intervention of the National Human Rights Commission by taking the following measures:

 – Direct the Investigation Division of the NHRC to launch a prompt, thorough and effective investigation into the matter and submit a report to the Commission within four weeks;

– Direct the state government of Telangana to take strict legal action against the accused forest officials under IPC and the SC/ST Act;

– Direct the state government of Telangana to provide free medical treatment to all the four tribal women who were injured including Gugulothu Lakshmi and further provide a compensation of Rs 5 lakhs to each of the torture victims;

 – Direct the state government of Telangana not to terrorise or snatch away forest land cultivated by the tribals in the name of carrying plantation drive;

 – Direct the state government of Telangana to grant patta (land deed titles) to all tribal families engaged in podu cultivation under the Forest Rights Act.

Photo Source: https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2021/oct/01/telangana-forest-department-staff-attack-tribals-4-women-injured-2366201.html

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