There is great resentment among the Tribals over the provisions of the fifth and sixth schedules of the Constitution not being implemented. Tribal representatives from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Assam and other states gathered at Ambedkar Bhavan at Jhandewalan in New Delhi on 16 October 2016 to draw up the strategy for “Mission 2018”, under which they plan to lay a siege to Parliament in 2018. Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) organized the meeting.
According to the representatives from different states, the president of India and the governors of states have failed to fulfil their responsibility of implementing the special provisions of the Constitution aimed at protecting the lives and traditions of Tribals. State governments have adopted an apathetic attitude towards the Tribals and have been violating their Constitutional and fundamental rights. As a result, the Tribals are reeling under grinding poverty, starvation, malnutrition, illiteracy and unemployment, and they are being displaced from their homes and hearths. In gross violation of the provisions of the fifth and sixth schedules of the Constitution, the land belonging to the Tribals is being handed over to big corporates and capitalists who are mercilessly exploiting its subterranean wealth and amassing wealth.
The speakers at the conclave wanted to know why the Tribals in the country are in dire straits despite special provisions in the Constitution for their protection and how despite clear provisions in the fifth and sixth schedules, land in scheduled areas has gone into the hands of non-Tribals. They said that given the attitude of the governments towards the Tribals, they are left with no option but to launch a do-or-die struggle. The Tribal representatives resolved that before the 2019 General Elections, they would assemble in Delhi in massive numbers and lay siege to Parliament demanding their Constitutional rights. This agitation has been christened “Mission 2018”.
Among those present were representatives of Tribals from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. They included Dr Hirawal Alawa, patron of JAYS; Mukti Tirkey, editor of the weekly Dalit Adivasi Dunia; Dr Paras Rawat, advisor of Mission 2018; Raviraj Baghel, president of JAYS, Indore; Rajkumar Pawara, Sanjay Kumar, Sardar Singh and Deepak Ahire, all star campaigners of JAYS, Maharashtra; T.R. Chouhan and Dhruv Chouhan, who are in charge of Mission 2018 in Harda; M.L. Shakya, Shubhamdev Thakur and Krishna Kalam, all members of the JAYS national executive; Saheb Singh Kalam, JAYS’s national star campaigner; Roshan Kumar Gavit, who is one of the members in charge of Mission 2018; Mission 2018’s Bhopal-based advisor Sharad Singh Kumre; Dewas advisor Ramnarayan Thakur; Rewa-based Dr Ajit Marco, who is in charge of JAYS in Vindhya Pradesh; Mission 2018 national JAYS member Vasudev Varnot; Avadhraj Singh Markam, Dilsharan Singh Shyam and Avadhpratap Singh Oyam, all members of Mission 2018 organizing committee; JAYS national member Rakesh Kumar Markam; Bhajanlal Meena, who is in charge of Mission 2018 in Rajasthan; Prof Jamvant Kumre and Rakhi Kumre, who are in charge of Mission 2018 in Betul; Rajni Kiran Ba, Jitendra Kumar Mukhi and Milita Dungdung, who are in charge of Mission 2018 in Orissa; JAYS national member Anil Markam; Rajesh Patil, who is in charge of Mission 2018 in Burhanpur-Khandwa; Raju Murmu, who is in charge of Mission 2018 in Jharkhand; Kavleshwar Prasad and Arvind Gond, who are in charge of Mission 2018 in Uttar Pradesh; Amit Tadvi, who is in charge of Mission 2018, Maharashtra; JAYS national member Dilsharan Singh Sarpanch, Dharmaveer Markam and Manoj Thakur. This writer, who has been given the charge of overseeing media relations of Mission 2018 nationally, conducted the proceedings.
In the meeting, it was unanimously decided that 100 Pracharaks would be named in each district, who would go from village to village to apprise people of the provisions of the fifth and sixth schedules.
The Tribals have raised the following demands under Mission 2018:
- Strict implementation of fifth and sixth schedules in Scheduled Areas
- Constitutional amendment to replace the word “Scheduled Tribe” with “Advasi”
- Constitution of Tribal Advisory Council (TAC) in areas with substantial Tribal population (other than Scheduled Areas) for providing security to the Tribals, for protecting their identity, rights and dignity and for the development of the area
- Declare International Day of Indigenous Peoples (9 August) a national holiday
- Strict implementation of Forest Rights Act, 2005
- Adequate arrangements for rehabilitation of the around 30 million Tribals displaced from their homes since Independence and employment and health facilities for them
- Steps for preservation of Tribal communities on the verge of extinction in different states. These include Baiga, Asur, Jarava, Ong and Pahadia
- Special Constitutional provisions for preservation of the primitive traditions, tribal culture and languages
- Give first right to mineral wealth of tribal areas to Tribals themselves
- Setting up of a commission to address problems afflicting Tribal areas, including starvation, malnutrition, unemployment, poor health services, migration and poverty