The Zomi Students’ Federation (ZSF) on Wednesday alleged that the state government has forcibly evicted tribal villagers from their homes by claiming that the villagers have encroached on areas of Reserved Forests, Protect Forest and Wetlands.
A release issued by ZSF expressed concern at the recent events in the state regarding the alleged forcible eviction of tribal villagers from their homes by the state authorities.
The eviction was reportedly carried out with previously unknown and highly questionable gazette notifications, it stated. The declaration of lands inhabited by tribal people as Protected and Reserved forests is a violation of tribal rights, it claimed.
As per the Indian Forest Act, 1927, the state government may constitute any forest land or wasteland which is the property of the government, or over which the government has proprietary rights, it stated.
The tribal lands which the state government had declared as ‘Reserved Forests’ are in fact, lands under private ownership or under traditional chieftainship. The unannounced survey of land without the knowledge of village chiefs, the village authorities and the general public cannot be accepted and should not be allowed, it alleged.
“Declaring certain areas in various districts, including Churachandpur, as ‘Wetland’ is a violation of the land owners’ rights since water channels and paddy fields cannot be defined as wetlands under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management Rules) 2017. A proper clarification is also required to be presented to show how and why certain privately owned properties have been brought under Wetlands,” it mentioned.
It accused the state government of targeting Christians in the state and claimed that the demolition of churches in Imphal on April 10 violates the ideals and spirit of secularism. Although the church authorities had informed the government that they would abide by the government orders, the police arrived in the dead of the night unannounced with bulldozers and razed the churches, it alleged. ZSF drew the attention of the NCSC and NHRC to commence an investigation on the issue, it added