IRAC has taken strong note of a report in The Times of India titled “Telangana: Complaint against seven members of Chenchus after clash with forest officials” dated 4 July 2021 (accessed at https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/complaint-against-7-chenchus-after-clash-with-forest-officials/articleshowprint/84102211.cms)
According to the report, seven Chenchu tribals were accused of pouring petrol on a forest beat officer at Macharam in Amrabad Mandal under Nagarkurnool district of Telangana on 2 July 2021.
According to the report, on 2 July 2021, a large group of forest officials from Amrabad and Maddimaddugu ranges reached Macharam to draw a baseline between revenue and forest limits to take up plantation drives at Macharam in Amrabad Mandal.
Chenchutribal families who were cultivating in the Podulands were terrified when they saw the forest officials and asked the forest officials to come on some other day because they had applied for land pattas which could be issued any time. But the forest officials wanted the land documents on the spot. Regarding this, an argument began between the tribals and the forest officials, when one tribal woman poured petrol over herself in the fear of losing her land. In the process, a few drops of petrol fell on one of the forest staff who was standing close to her.
Taking advantage of this, the forest officials reportedly filed FIR with the police on 3 July 2021 against seven tribal women accusing them of pouring petrol on a forest staff. But, as per the tribal villagers, the allegations made in the FIR are false.
The Times of India report quoted one UdtanuriAlvela, a resident of Macharam village, as saying, “One woman poured petrol over herself in the fear of losing her land. In the process, a few drops of petrol fell on one of the forest staff who was standing close to her. We did not intend to harm the officials. These are all false accusations.”
As per Section 3(1)(p) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, whoever not being a Scheduled Tribe/Schedule Caste, “institutes false, malicious or vexatious suit or criminal or other legal proceedings against a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe” is a publishable offence.
IRAC sought the immediate intervention of the National Human Rights Commission by taking the following measures:
- Direct the Investigation Division of the NHRC to conduct an on-the-spot inquiry in this matter and submit a report within four weeks;
- Direct the state government of Telangana to withdraw the case filed against seven members of Chenchu tribe ofMacharam in Amrabad Mandal and further take action against forest officials for filing false FIR against the tribal farmers under Section 3(1)(p) of SC/ST Act.
- Direct the state government of Telangana to issue pattas to the tribals of Chenchu tribe living at Macharam in Amrabad Mandal under Forest Rights Act, 2006;