, 10 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Thread: why thousands of #dalits are demanding land rights, and what's happening in Marathwada.
Dalits are the most landless community in India. Estimates of landlessness range from 60% (India Land and Livestock Holding Survey 2013) to 70% (Census 2011 occupation data) 1/n
Dalits were not allowed to own #land under the caste system. This forced their dependence on occupations that in turn defined their caste. Land reforms were initiated after Independence to grant small amount of land from old Zamindar estates. 2/n
But the reforms have failed. Either no land was given, or land was encroached by higher castes. This is leading to land conflicts. For example- landconflictwatch.org/research/upper…
landconflictwatch.org/research/viole… 3/n
.@landconflicts has documented 31 such ongoing conflicts in 13 states, affecting 92000 persons. An interesting trend is that landless dalits are occupying public or private land. Seen in Bihar, Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu. 4/n
In 1940s, BR Ambedkar said dalits should occupy and farm public land to escape caste-based professions. As land reforms failed, people continue to follow this advice, especially in Maharashtra, which has the biggest such movement 5/n
85000 dalits were occupying grazing land in Maharashtra in 1991. Govt decided to give titles to occupants. But many were excluded because of red tape. Approx 11,000 families are still occupying land, avg 2 acres each. Now, there's a new twist in the story. 6/n
In 2016, Maharashtra govt decided to plant 50 crore trees in the state. From 2017 grazing lands were handed over to the forest dept despite occupation. So dalit occupiers are now facing penalties for forest offences, and eviction. 7/n
My story recently published in @indiaspend traces the life of 80-yr old Rambhau Kamble who attended an Ambedkar rally and is one of the 11,000 occupants facing eviction. indiaspend.com/dalit-battles-… 8/n
Hats off to @landconflicts for highlighting what are the most fundamental, and most forgotten, realities of Indian society. Each of the 31 conflicts is a story worthy of front page coverage. 9/n
And shoutout to @Harry_Stevens and team for this one-of-a-kind map of district-wise dalit landlessness using Census data. It must have taken a lot of work! It appears that land conflicts coincide with areas with most landlessness. hindustantimes.com/interactives/d… n/n
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