6th October 2012
In view of the rising graph of witch hunting cases and atrocity on women, a collective of organizations lead by PAIRVI, Vikas Bharati, FLAC, AASHA, and Humanity organized a State Consultation at Ranchi on 6th October. More than 70 civil society organizations, Panchayat members, women, survivors of witch hunting, academic community and lawyers attended the Consultation. The Chief Guest of the function was Mrs. Vimla Pradhan, Hon’ble Minister of Social Welfare and Women and Child Development. The Consultation was also attended by Jusctice Narayan Roy, Chairperson of the State Human Rights Commission, Dr. Hemlata S Mohan, Chairperson of the State Women Commission, Prof. Ramesh Sharan (Ranchi University), Adv G S Jaiswal, Adv Rashmi Katyayana, Ms Ranjana (Member, State Child Rights Commission).
“Taungiya” is a colloquial word for plantation settlers, which was settled in forest villages by the forest department for maintaining forests during the late 1800 and early 1900. Majority of the taungiyas belong to Tharu and Buxa Tribes having come across the border of Nepal long back. However, later taungiya system was abolished and many of them were driven out of forests. More than 1 lakh taungiya settlers face unknown fate in Uttarakhand living mainly in the districts of Udhamsingh Nagar, Champavat, Hardwar, Dehradun and Pauri-garhwal. They become victim of wrath of forest department and revenue department and many of them suffered imprisonment on the charges of encroachment of forest lands. According to the forest officials, Taungiya system was abolished in 1980s, The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 mandates the land rights to traditional forest dwellers including the Taungyas but the State Government has denied to recognize these forest-villagers as traditional forest dwellers and therefore rights available to them under the Act. Pairvi organized a fact finding on land rights of taungiyas and visited a number of forest villages in US Nagar, and Champavat, and met govt officials, NGOs.