'ANF being used to evict tribals from Kudremukh National Park'

Vittal Malekudiya to contest Gram Panchayat polls

'ANF being used to evict tribals from Kudremukh National Park'

Adivasi activist and journalism student Vittal Malekudiya, who was accused of carrying out pro-naxal activities, on Thursday claimed that Anti-Naxal Force (ANF) was being used to threaten tribes within Kudremukh National Park area to evict them from their lands. 

He said that though ANF had been waiting for State government’s permission to file the charge sheet in a three-year-old sedition case against him, the present Congress government accorded permission within four days. “The previous government had not accorded permission to ANF to file chargesheet against me. This year ANF filed another request on January 14 and the ruling Congress accorded the permission within four days. I got to know about the charge sheet only through a court summons.

I have been named as sixth accused and my father as the seventh accused. The others named in the charge sheet are naxal leaders Vikram Gowda, Pradeep, John, Prabha and Sundari. I have never seen these people in my life. Moreover, I believe in democratic system and hence contesting gram panchayat elections from my village Kutlur,” Vittal said.

The ANF officials had arrested Vittal in 2012 for being a member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). Munir Katipalla, State President Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) accused IPS officer Alok Kumar of deliberately framing Vittal without any evidence. “Vittal has been fighting for basic infrastructure at places where adivasis have been living at Kudremukh region.  The villagers had listed out demand, in the pamphlets, such as road, water facilities in their village and decided to boycott the elections. Later, they dropped the decision and exercised their franchise. However, the ANF collected this pamphlets and framed Vittal for being naxal sympathiser. The ANF police brutally assaulted Vittal’s father in front of  Alok Kumar, who was then the ANF Commander,” Munir said.

Vittal alleged that the government and certain vested interests wanted to forcefully evict adivasis from their lands and ANF is being used to further their cause. “The ANF wants to spread the rumours about the existence of naxals in the area to keep getting funds. The district administration and the State government backed by vested interests want to move adivasis out of their lands. Because of this ANF is being used to force adivasis to leave their lands. In my village many adivasis have been asked to accept the package offered by the government and leave the forests,” he said.

The chargesheet filed by the ANF lists 44 witnesses and the main accused, five naxalites, are still absconding. The ANF police have pressed charges under sections 120 (b) and 121 of IPC and sections 19 and 20 under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.          

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