Diddalli tribals agree to shift to new locations

Five-month-long protest ends with revenue minister saying no to forest land

In what appears to be a truce, the five-month-long protest of Diddalli tribals ended with the displaced 528 tribals agreeing to abide by the words of the district administration.

The apparent truce followed the tough stance taken by Revenue Minister Kagodu Thimmappa, who took stock of the situation by visiting the disputed site at Devamucchi forest in the district recently. The minister, who had alleged a political conspiracy behind the contentious issue, had refused firmly to rehabilitate the tribals in the forest area. Kagodu had, instead, instructed the tribals to relocate to sites identified at three places in Virajpet and Somwarpet taluk in the district.

Change of stand
Intermittent rainfall, accompanied by winds and lightning, also had smoothened the hard stand of the tribals, who were forced to spend days make-shift tents with rainwater seeping in.

Buoyed by this, Deputy Commissioner Richard Vincent D’Souza has also promised to distribute title deeds within a week to the beneficiary tribals for sites identified at Basavanahalli, Byadagotta and Kedamullur.

The deputy commissioner instructed officials to make arrangements to provide additional toilets and bathrooms for now, and also collect photographs of the beneficiaries to facilitate distribution of title deeds. Following a demand from tribals to continue distribution of rice, D’Souza ordered the officials to forward a proposal in this regard.

Reservation
One of the tribals, Swamy, however, expressed his reservation over the site identified at Kedamullur, while the tribals had no issue with shifting to other sites at Basavanahalli and Byadagotta. Another member of the struggle committee, Anitha, also expressed similar opinion, with the intention of rehabilitating all the tribals at one site.

Prakash, from Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) said, “A total of 528 sites have been allotted through lottery. It includes 181 at Basavanahalli, 171 at Byadagotta and 176 at Kedamullur. The works on providing drinking water facility and electricity are on.”

External support
The houses will be built under the aegis of the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Corporation and the Department of Scheduled Classes Welfare, after erecting temporary sheds for the purpose. The issue had only garnered attention for the tribals’ protest for five months. Two of the tribals had also staged nude protest.

The tribals’ movement received an overwhelming support with actor Chetan of ‘Aa Dinagalu’ fame jumping into the movement. He also joined them for talks with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in Bengaluru recently. Freedom fighter H S Doreswamy had attended a meeting convened in front of Maldare Gram Panchayat office to extend support to the demands of tribals displaced from Diddalli to get sites and rehabilitation facilities.

Earlier, Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya too had put in effort to convince the agitating tribals, and promised to arrange a meeting with the chief minister. However, it materialised only recently, when the tribals launched a jatha to Bengaluru with dalit activist from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani flagging off the same. The jatha had to be cut short after reaching Periyapatna, following a call from chief minister’s office promising to have a dialogue with them.

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