Women fight to protect ancient land in Jharkhand

The ancient natives of Santhal Pargana, who reside in Jharkhand, have been deeply associated with their land. The land is their only identity – which they have defended with their lives since the times of British. Their never-give-up spirit was honoured by the British who passed the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act 1856; was later supplemented by the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act in 1949. The Act bans all transfers of land in the Santhal Pargana which comprises six districts in the north-eastern part of Jharkhand: Dumka, Deoghar, Godda, Pakur, Sahi-ganj and Jamtara.

But their identity is under threat by the Jharkhand government for ‘development’. Mary Nisha Hansda, our correspondent in Jharkhand reports that the Jharkhand government is using underhand means to silence the natives give their fertile land up to build a dam over the Ghumani river in Paharpur village of Godda district. Firstly, they stopped the flow of water in the district harming the farming activity of the natives of 13 neighbouring villages; secondly, they arrested the men who protest against the lawless bullying. But now, the mothers and daughters have stepped in to scale this protest. “We will not let them take our lands. We have thrived on this land for centuries. Let life be finished with it,” says Rani Kiski of Paharpur village in Godda district of Jharkhand. However, it is not easy for these handful natives to fight the might of the government who also send police to threaten them into giving up their land. These women are no different than the inspiring women of Dongria Kondh of Orrisa, as they fight not only for a piece of land, but they fight to protect their natural heritage.

Mary Nisha has joined forces on the ground with the women of her community in Paharpur to protect their ancient land. Let us all join together and protect the rights of these natives. Call up Nirmal Soren, the Circle Officer of Godda district in Jharkhand on +91- 7091482207 and make him aware of the wrongful arrest of youth in the area and the constant police threats that disrupt life in Paharpur village.

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