PM apologises to tribal population

PM apologises to tribal population

Admits to high-handedness by police and forest administration

Addressing the chief ministers’ conference on the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, Singh said: “The heavy hand of the criminal justice system has become a source of harassment and exploitation. Over the years, a large number of cases have been registered against the tribal people, giving rise to a good deal of harassment to those whose traditional rights were not recognised by the earlier forest laws,” he said.

Singh added that decades of neglect and official apathy had aided Maoists to cash in on the tribal sentiment. They now command a strong support base among the tribals in central India.

There are many contentious issues related to the losses suffered by the tribal population following land acquisition by the government. “It cannot be said that we have dealt sensitively and with concern with these issues in the past,” Singh admitted. Several states have not yet begun the process of receiving land right claims from the tribal population even after almost two years of the implementation of the Forest Act. “This cannot be considered as an acceptable situation,” the prime minister said.

There has been a systemic failure in giving the tribals a stake in the modern economic process.  “The alienation built over decades is now taking a dangerous turn in some parts of the country,” Singh said, referring to Maoists’ growing influence among the tribals.

Promising to stop the “systematic exploitation” and “social and economic abuse of our tribal communities” the prime minister appealed to Maoists to come back to the mainstream for the economic development of the tribal people.  
“No sustained activity is possible under the shadow of the gun. Nor have those who claim to speak for the tribal population offered an alternate economic or social path that is viable,” he added.
The prime minister also laid stressed on selecting committed officers and providing them with incentives and facilities to serve the tribal population in a better manner.

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