, 11 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
1. SCOOP: Maharashtra Govt admits in Supreme Court that forest rights claims of tens of thousands of Adivasis & others in the state were illegally rejected by babus. This has put the Adivasis at risk of being forcefully evacuated from their lands #Thread bit.ly/2m3YZvt
2. In affidavits filed in the SC, Maharashtra govt said the bureaucracy-led District Level Committees rejected over 22,509 forest rights claims without properly assessing evidence submitted to support these claims & gave irrelevant reasons to reject them. bit.ly/2m3YZvt
3. This may lead to the forcible eviction of a much greater number of forest dwellers—certainly in tens of thousands— assuming: a) more than 1 person depends on 1 claim and b) those whose forest rights claims were rejected are seen as encroachers. bit.ly/2m3YZvt
4. But what is a forest rights claim? It refers to the rights of an individual or community to continue to live, farm, or gather forest produce, on a piece of forest land. A claim is verified by 2 committees before the District Level Committee approves it bit.ly/2m3YZvt
5. Maharashtra Govt holding babus responsible for wrongful rejection of forest rights claims is significant. It contradicts petitioners who have asserted in the SC case that the “claims have been rejected after due verification and an appeals process.” bit.ly/2m3YZvt
6. This is the case in which the SC, in Feb, ordered eviction of millions of forest dwellers. The petition was filed by wildlife groups & retired forest babus who believe forests have been severely affected due to bogus claimants under Forest Rights Act. bit.ly/2m3YZvt
7. The Court deemed forest dwellers whose applications for forest rights recognition under FRA were rejected as encroachers and therefore ordered their evictions. This is why rejection of forest rights applications/claims is an important issue. bit.ly/2m3YZvt
8. The SC gave that order on Feb 13 as the Modi Govt, which was supposed to defend the FRA & Adivasis in court, kept quiet. Its own former lawyer accused the Modi Govt of violating right to life of tribals in this interview with me. bit.ly/2Nkm32O
9. Following criticism, the Modi Govt's Tribal Affairs ministry got its act together. In March & June, it held 2 meetings with state govts in which it was revealed that at least 13 lakh forest rights claims were rejected without due process. bit.ly/2Yhxv30
10. Maharashtra Govt's affidavits add to this number. Also, it said in July 11 affidavit that 22, 509 forest rights claims were wrongly rejected by babus; in its Sep 4 affidavit, it says the number could be higher as it has learnt of more rejections. bit.ly/2m3YZvt
11. The state govt's confession that babus wrongly rejected forest rights claims in Maharashtra is also important because one of the key demands of the historic farmers' march in March '18 was grant of forest rights claims under the FRA. See details here: bit.ly/2manXcO
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