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Amit Shah asks BJP chief ministers to seek review of SC’s tribal eviction order

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah on Monday said he has asked chief ministers of the BJP-ruled states to file a review petition in the Supreme Court to stop eviction of tribals from forest areas.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2019 23:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Amit Shah,BJP,chief minister
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah on Monday said he has asked chief ministers of the BJP-ruled states to file a review petition in the Supreme Court to stop eviction of tribals from forest areas. (PTI)

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah on Monday said he has asked chief ministers of the BJP-ruled states to file a review petition in the Supreme Court to stop eviction of tribals from forest areas.

The top court had on February 13 ordered the chief secretaries of 17 states to evict an estimated one million tribal and other households whose claims of the right to live in forests under the Forest Rights Act 2006 were rejected on various grounds, including absence of proof that the land was in their possession for at least three years.

It also said the eviction should be carried out on or before July 24, the next date of hearing.

“I have spoken to all CMs of BJP-ruled states in the situation arising out of Supreme Court’s order on eviction of tribals living in forest areas. The states will be soon filing a review petition and care will be taken to safeguard the rights of our tribals and prevent eviction,” Shah tweeted.

“The BJP remains committed to the upliftment of our tribal brothers and sisters and we will do everything to protect their rights,” he said in another tweet.

Soon after Shah’s tweet, Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das announced that his government will seek review of the SC order. “I have directed the officials to initiate steps in this regard. The government is fully dedicated to protect the interests of tribal and other families dependent on forests,” Das said in a press communiqué.

Shah’s tweets come two days after Congress president Rahul Gandhi announced a similar step.

“The recent order of the Supreme Court deserves your urgent intervention. The court has directed state governments to evict tribals and other forest dwellers whose claims under the Forest Rights Act were rejected,” Gandhi wrote to Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Bhagel on Saturday.

A day later, Bhagel said the state government will file a review petition after examining the SC order. Gandhi’s office had also sent similar letters to chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the other two Congress-ruled states having a sizeable population of tribals and forest dwellers likely to be hit by the SC order.

Gandhi also cited a report of the tribal affairs ministry which said that less than 45% of the individual forest rights and 50% of the community forest rights claims were approved until April 2018. “Further, the ministry has pointed out that forest staff often raised frivolous objections leading to rejection,” the Congress president pointed out.

Meanwhile on Monday, the tribal rights organisations under the banner of Campaign for Survival and Dignity announced a series of protests from February 26 to March 10 against the court order in different parts of the country. On March 2, tribal and forest dwellers from across the India will participate in a march to Parliament, said Bhil Tribal Party leader B L Chhanwal.

There have been reports of protests by tribal groups in several states in the wake of the apex court order. In Jharkhand, forest dwellers took out “Jangal-Zameen Adhikar” yatra. The Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, an umbrella group of state NGOs, also held a protest at Korba, claiming that the SC order will result in a large number of forest dwellers becoming landless and sought intervention of the state government.

(With inputs from Ranchi and Jaipur bureaus)

First Published: Feb 25, 2019 22:55 IST