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Tribals' bid turns violent

Tribals
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Forest set on fire; eucalyptus plantation destroyedA Jangareddigudem (West Godavari): The ongoing...

Forest set on fire; eucalyptus plantation destroyedA bidJangareddigudem (West Godavari): The ongoing tribals' war for rights over forest land in West Godavari reached flashpoint when a group of tribals demanding forest land for livelihood set on fire Marlagudem reserve forest in Buttayigudem mandal on Wednesday. The agitated tribals reportedly felled some trees in near-by eucalyptus plantation. The police took into custody about 15 tribals, including their leader S Venkateswarlu, in connection with the violence. The incidents of destruction followed failed consultations between warring tribals groups for the past five days. A group of about 200 tribals, reportedly supported by Communist Party of India (CPI), from Nutarammannapalem, Rachuru, Gollagudem, Tippalapadu, Komaravaram and other villages has been invading the reserve forest for the past few days to gain an upper hand over their rival group. Tribals of other group are stated to be in possession of title deeds for the lands owned by them under the Joint Forest Managment. As a result, they preferred talks to win the war. Even though the two groups engaged in discussions to end the prolonged battle on a peaceful note, the effort turned out to be futile. The agitating group insisted for right on the same land. The tribal group went to the Marlagudem forest and tried to encroach the land on Tuesday. But it failed succeed in its attempt because of large number of police forces deployed in the area. Determined to prove its upper hand, the peeved group of tribals barged into the forest locality on Wednesday. The tribals started clearing bushes and felling small trees. They piled up the firewood and set it on fire. Apparently, this was their concentrated attempt to grab the the forest land by hook or by crook. The agitated group then entered the adjacent eucalyptus plantation and chopped some of the trees. The police, however, prevented the tribals from causing further damage to the plantation. With the police taking some of them into custody, the tribals distracted temporarily and vowed to come back on Thursday before leaving. The forest officials from Jagareddigudem, Polavaram and Konapuram forest ranges have been camping in the locality to avoid any untoward incident. Unable to face the irate tribals, they sought help of the police officials. Subsequently, the police forces from three circles of Chintalapudi, Jangareddigudem and Polavaram have been rushed to the troubled forest area to bring the situation under control. About 100 policemen along with 50 forest staff have been monitoring the present situation. They have been trying other options to pacify the unrelenting tribals and stepped up efforts to ease the prevailing tension. The issue of tribal wars reached an alarming proportion in the recent past because of the failure of the officials for a prolonged time to accommodate lands to some of the tribals in the neighbouring villages of Marlagudem. Everytime the tribals wage fight for land rights, the authorities have been trying to overpower them by using force without trying to resolve the issue. They did not try to settle the issue by giving priority to the social security for which the tribals started the fight. It was hardly one year ago that the tribals attacked the forest lands enjoyed by their own community people and uprooted eucalyptus plantations in about 40 acres. They had also destroyed about 200 teak seedlings in a nursery supervised by the forest department.
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