The farmers of this small hamlet in Chhattisgarh were eagerly waiting for their crop to ripe. The harvest was thankfully good this season and was their only source of income to survive till the summer of 2017. But their hopes for a decent crop was destroyed in September 2016 when the Raigarh district administration bulldozed fields full of standing crops in their village, Katnangdih. “Without giving notice, they destroyed all the crops,” says Bhagvtiya Gupta, a farmer who suffered this fate. His crop was just a month away from being harvested. He witnessed the fruits of his labour being squashed underneath the bulldozer as 150 policemen stood guard.
Five other farmers from the village have suffered a similar fate. Their lands are adjoining the site for the Dharamjaigarh rail corridor but not acquired for the project, as the farmers claim. “The farmers had not given their land for the project. From my investigation, I found out that the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) had ordered this move in order to subjugate them. The police later told me that they were called in by the SDM under the pretext of riots in the village,” reveals Rajesh Gupta, Community Correspondent.
The accused SDM has since been replaced. But the affected farmers are yet to be compensated for their loss. Without crops or compensation, the farmers are worried about the approaching winters. The expenses for food, warm clothes and other requirements still remain unfulfilled.
Please call Alarmelmangai D., the District Collector of the area, to demand action so that these farmers can get their due. compensation.
State developing, but who is benefiting?
“The government officials show strength and claim lands. This is how people are cheated in the name of development,” says Rajesh, while speaking about the issue and the larger picutre of exclusion of people from the state’s development.
In Chhattisgarh, 80 percent of the population, ie 22 million people, still depend on agriculture for livelihood directly or indirectly. The majority of these people are tribals and people belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category. However, the development of the state has been not inclusive of this section of people. The state of Chhattisgarh is the leading producer of minerals such as coal, iron ore and dolomite. It has also been voted the fourth easiest Indian state in terms of Ease of Doing Business. However, the state performs poorly in terms of Human Development and Rights. The state stands third from last in the terms of Human Development Index amongst all the Indian states. Several reports point to evidence to show that the Central Forces Police Force and Police force have been using brutal force to subjugate the tribal communities into giving up their forest homes in favour of industrialisation. Journalists, international human rights organisations and tribal activists have repeatedly accused the state mechanism of repression, misuse of law and threat to dissuade them from highlight Chhattisgarh’s problems in front of a larger audience.
Community correspondent Rajesh Gupta reports from Chhattisgarh for Video Volunteers.
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