- Government of India and MP , WHO, Media and Social activists and Donors
Sambhav is an NGO working among the sahariya tribal for last 16 years. It has been trying to change the living conditions of this community. It believes that community mobilization and understanding the cause of poverty are crucial elements of this change.
It is our hope that our petition will help in highlighting the plight of these extremelly marginalize and vulnerbale communities.
Sahariya is a primitive tribal group of India. They are fighting a losing battle against exploitation, poverty and ill health. About 5, 00,000 in number, they are spread in several villages of Gwalior and Morena divisions. Their habitations are located outside the main villages. It is generally a cluster of houses. The housing reminds of prehistoric scenes. It is made of some stone boulders and roofing is also of stone slabs. In some villages mud structures are also constructed. Brick and concrete are very rare. Government has attempted at providing housing to them. But Sahariya prefers to live these stone huts- locally called as Patore. Most of their livelihood resources are in the control of powerful people .e.g. land, water and forest produce. In most cases their land is bad and that too is usurped by others. High indebtedness, land alienation, abysmal literacy level, preponderance of tuberculosis and malaria, and lack of social security are some facets of their vulnerability. Severe malnutrition among the children and starvation deaths has also been reported. Shy and submissive by nature, they fall easy prey to the manipulation of corrupt people. The services like health, education, electricity and nutrition care and social security exist mostly in profound sentiments of the policies; most Sahariyas have been denied access to them.
As the forest cover is disappearing, Sahariyas are forced to work as casual labor. Formal administrative system has never been understood by them. Complex procedures of the Government have further scared them away from seeking its support. Government has been pushing scheme after scheme for their development, little benefit reaches to them. Middlemen and Government Officials have taken benefit of these programs.
It should be understood that we need different frame of reference for development planning for Sahariyas. Foremost, what they need is respect and dignity. Approaches like patronage and charity will not succeed. Good quality education and health care is essential. It will require strong administrative and political will. Media and NGOs have provided some advocacy support for their cause. But it is not enough. Sahariyas need support from much larger community. Through this petition, it is hoped that concerns of Sahariyas will be given fair attention. A comprehensive plan will be developed for their growth and better living conditions.
At many places Sahariyas have been tortured to leave their native village by the mischievous people to take over their land. In such cases they have migrated to other places in search of security. The area is also infamous for dacoits and organized robbers. These groups move from place to place looking for hideouts from the police. Poor Sahariyas are forced to entertain these hooligans with monetary, food, liquor and women. Any attempt to refuse brings heavy penalty on them in the form of physical beating, gang rape and rampage of their villages. Police looks at them as informers and tries to use force and threat for gathering information about the movement of dacoits.
Some demands which need to be raised for protection of Sahariyas may include-
1. Administration to be accountable for quality education and health services. Any negligence should be strictly dealt and concerned persons to be penalized.
2. Social security and legal aid support for each family should be insured.
3. A comprehensive development plan to be developed considering specific needs and demands of the Sahariyas.
4. It should be declared as Sahariya Zone with special senior level committee to look into their day to day problems.
5. Present Food distribution system is not adequate to meet their needs. It should be totally overhauled. Mobile shops for grains and cooked food are put in place to ensure availability of food to every one.
6. It is taken for granted that all the Sahariyas can pay for medicine, food, electricity and education. The truth is that many do not even eat meals two times a day and go without food on some days.
7. Children are highly malnourished and suffer from skin and other infections. The ICDS program has to be held accountable along with ANM if cases of severe malnutrition are identified in the village.
8. NREG program has gone totally in corrupt hands. Soon the Sahariyas would refuse to work since the payments are much less than daily wages otherwise available. It is leading to serious restless among the poor. Immediate district level monitoring committees should be made with representation of credible NGOs and Media Personals.
9. Land disputes continue to harass the tribal everywhere. Special courts should be setup to hear these cases. Disputes between Forest and Revenue departments over land maps and ownership has caused insurmountable suffering to Sahariyas.
We are hoping that this petition will be widely circulated and signed. A campaign will take birth to protect highly marginalized society of Sahariyas. We know much can be added to this simple write up. It will be appreciated if you could make it complete by your comments.
The Protect Sahariyas' From Mariginalization and exploitation petition to Government of India and MP , WHO, Media and Social activists and Donors was written by Dr.S.K.SINGH and is in the category Civil Rights at GoPetition.