IRAC CALLS FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE GOTHI KOYA TRIBE

On 23rd August 2021, the Indigenous Rights Advocacy Centre (IRAC) approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) over denial of land rights, Aadhaar card, ration card, and voter card, and any kind of facility to members of the Gothi Koya tribe living in Jalagalancha hamlet in Pasra forest area under Jayashankar Bhupalpally district of Telangana.

These Gothi Koya tribals had migrated from Chhattisgarh due to the atrocities by the members of the ‘Salwa Judum’ and took shelter in the Jalagalancha area. The Gothi tribals have faced criminalization for cultivation in the Pasra forest area for livelihood. In September 2017, over 200 forest department and police personnel swooped down on the Jalagalancha tribal hamlet under Tadvai Mandal with tractors and bulldozers and demolished houses of 36 Gothi Koya families. The forest officials ransacked their huts, throwing out food items, clothes, cots, and utensils, before razing them to the ground. They also destroyed the standing crops in their fields. Till date, the evicted Gothi Koya families have not been rehabilitated by the authorities.  In July 2021, there was a clash between Gothi Koya tribals and the forest officials in the Janagalancha forest area when Pasra range forest officials tried to prevent Podu cultivation by the tribals.

At present, they continued to face constant harassment from the forest officials. The State government of Telangana has not granted the tribals land pattas under the Forest Rights Act, the tribals have been criminalized for cultivating in the forest area for sustenance and the Gothi Koya tribals have been living pathetic lives as they do not receive any government scheme benefits. They have been also deprived of ration card, voter card, Aadhaar card, etc. As a result, they have been totally under the mercy of the forest officials.

IRAC requested NHRC to order an investigation into the pathetic condition in which the Gothi Koyas are living and suggested measures for improvement of their living conditions.

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