The organised killing of the most civilised.

In public life, we expect a political leader, civil servant, celebrity, writer, media to lend their voice to the voiceless, helpless and marginalised. They must help bring justice to people, not to the powerful and mighty. It takes a lot of courage to support citizens against administration and government for their democratic fundamental rights. In this context, whoever among these public figure stands by the people, will be popular and a true leader.

Many of us fall prey to support the forward-thinking term ‘development’ without understanding its essence for all citizens of the country. We must ask ourselves — can we have development without disturbing or disrupting Adivasis?

Adivasis in Chotanagpur are oppressed and exploited every single day. Be it in the marketplace, public transport, urban homes, workplace, factories, schools, colleges, courts and public offices. The mother of all exploitation is displacement. How long will you continue to forcibly acquire our land and drive us away from our very own motherland?

Whenever Adivasi land was acquired for a Greenfield project, many were displaced, many retreated into the forest, many were forced by outsiders to move to a distant land, some of them stayed back to cater to manual jobs in the project. Whether in dams, power projects or steel plants, uprooted or displaced Adivasis found jobs which were always lowest in the pyramid. Several studies and research can be found on how Adivasis have been used, illtreated, misguided and ignored in the name of nation-building. The exploitation continues even today.

Do you know what has happened to thousands of Adivasis who were alienated from their land to build big dams, power plants, steel plants, mines and several other developmental projects?

Many families disappeared. Many tribal communities got scattered due to displacement and eventually vanished. Many small tribes became extinct. Many tribal communities lost their native language and culture. They lost their people identity.

The huge contribution and sacrifice of the Adivasis for India’s independence and nation-building goes unnoticed and stands completely disregarded. Adivasis have always been sacrificed in the name of development. Every day, Adivasis are exploited and ill-treated like unwanted second citizens.

‌Adivasis were slowly driven out of their land in the fertile plains and forests by others. While others prospered, Adivasi communities dispersed and disintegrated, landing into small paltry manual jobs for daily wages. Since many years Adivasis in villages and forests are being killed or driven out to make way for big corporates. Today, even the public policies are rewritten to clear the forests for big corporates. In order to clear the forests, Adivasis must be evicted.

Adivasis Strike against Land Eviction | Dying Adivasi an Indigenous Perspective | Basant Kerketta | Tribalzone Magazine
Adivasis strike against the Eviction of Tribals from forests.

No amount of monetary compensation can compensate for the loss of land for Adivasis, that’s because Adivasis thrive in community living. If you separate Adivasis from their land, you actually erase them forever.

Many of us fall in the trap of debating development, displacement and rehabilitation. Before we start debating, please understand and define development. The perspective will change as we traverse from city to town to villages to forests. The meaning will differ for different classes and communities. The Adivasi lifestyle and worldview are completely different from others, therefore they don’t fit into the aspirations of others.

Dying Adivasi - An Indigenous Perspective | Basant Kerketta | Tribalzone Magazine

You may compare the culture of Chotanagpur Adivasis with indigenous populations or Aborigines in different parts of the world. When you do that you will realise that all originals share similar genocide and struggle for survival.

To say that Adivasis don’t want roads, bridge and dams are misconstrued and wrong. In fact, Adivasis want development. Adivasis indeed want good jobs, education, healthcare and livelihood.

Adivasis want to support and enjoy the fruit of development without sacrificing any more of their land or forest. Let us have all the development work you envisage without disturbing or disrupting Adivasis.

In the name of development, let your families and communities be forcefully evicted time and again from their land for decades, let your community be disintegrated for generations, may you continue to lose your culture and language, may your people identity be diminished, may your family and communities be forced to migrate frequently for manual labour jobs on daily wages, may your family and community be marginalised and exploited every single day by everyone else for decades, if you resist against land acquisition, may members of your community be harassed, tortured, killed by police and armed forces. When you raise your voice, may your community be suppressed by the government in every way, may the media take no interest in your stories of struggle, injustice and genocide. May no powerful personality or political leader come to your rescue.

And then when you cry foul, agitate and demonstrate, we Adivasis will be on the other side mocking you for your ignorance, calling you anti-national and trolling you on social media.

(That’s the perspective, you simply cannot imagine such a scenario for your family or community. You just cannot endure so much pain.)

Remember, you dwell on the Adivasi land. Please show some respect.