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108 tribal villages to boycott Bihar polls over ‘police crackdown’

The protests were led by Kaimur Mukti Morcha (KMM), which alleged that 25 activists from the area were arrested on false charges.

The residents of 108 villages in Bihar’s Kaimur plateau have announced that they will boycott the forthcoming Assembly polls to protest an alleged police crackdown on the area’s tribal population last month. The police action came when the tribals were protesting, among other issues, the declaration of the area as a tiger reserve.

The protests were led by Kaimur Mukti Morcha (KMM), which alleged that 25 activists from the area were arrested on false charges. The villagers accused the Forest Department of forceful evictions and bulldozing of crops, despite a Supreme Court stay on evictions.

KMM has demanded that the government declare Kaimur a scheduled area. The creation of a tiger reserve in the region must be done only after consent by the gram sabhas and approval of the tribal population, it has said.

A report on this by a four-member panel from Delhi was released Friday. CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat, who released the report, told The Indian Express, “In this instance, there has been criminal negligence by the Bihar government that hasn’t implemented the Forest Rights Act.” Follow Bihar Election 2020 Live Updates

According to the report, on September 10, thousands of Adivasis from the 108 villages mobilised peacefully in front of the Forest Department office at Adhaura. The police then “unleashed a crackdown”, in which seven activists were fired upon, lathi-charged, and picked up by the police. On October 16, all seven were released on bail. The report alleged that Prabhu, an Adivasi, was killed by a police bullet that went through his ear.

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