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URGENT ALERT TO STOP DESTRUCTIVE FIELD FIRING IN NETARHAT

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  • arkitect95
    ACTION ALERT!! JOIN IN THE PROTEST AGAINST THE NETARHAT FIELD FIRING RANGE The 23rd Artillery Brigade of the Indian Army is planning to conduct its routine
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4 5:21 AM
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      ACTION ALERT!!
      JOIN IN THE PROTEST AGAINST THE NETARHAT FIELD FIRING RANGE

      The 23rd Artillery Brigade of the Indian Army is planning to conduct
      its routine Field Firing Practice from 2nd to 11th August 2004 at
      Netarhat, Jharkhand causing immense livelihood losses, threat to
      life, and physical and mental suffering to the local population, who
      are expected to vacate the area for the same. While the people have
      not received any notice, the army has issued an order to the local
      administration to prepare for vacating 29 villages in the area.

      The Indian Army has been using Netarhat and other areas falling in
      the adivasi dominated districts of Gumla, Palamau and Latehar, in
      Jharkhand, for Heavy Artillery Firing Practice since 1965. During the
      firing drills the local population is asked to vacate their houses or
      stay indoors. This goes on for a period of ten days, during which
      people have to either flee to the jungles or look for alternative
      shelter while their habitat is being bombarded with shells, often
      wounding and killing KILLING several people. The firing drill also
      causes enormous damage to the standing crops, fields, houses, trees
      and livestock in the region. According to activists of the Jan
      Sangarsh Samiti, there have even been instances of rape and sexual
      harassment of women by the army jawans. The "inconvenience" caused to
      the locals due to the firing practice by the Army is compensated with
      a measly amount of Re. 1 per day by the government. In this exercise
      the damage to wildlife, forest vegetation and the local ECO system is
      not even considered by the government.

      Two state orders dated 25th November 1991 and 25th March 1992, under
      the section 9(1) of the Maneuvers Field Firing and Artillery
      Practices Act, 1938, notified an area of 1471 Sq. Km covering 245
      villages in 6 blocks of 2 districts for periodical field firing and
      artillery practice for ten years as the Netarhat Field Firing Range.

      The above mentioned anti democratic and anti people State orders have
      been strongly opposed by the affected people. The protests from the
      locals took form of an organized movement in 1993 after the army put
      up a Pilot -Project proposal to the State of Bihar requesting for
      acquisition of land to set up a permanent Army Camp in the area. The
      Army claimed that only 206 Sq. Km of the 1471 Sq. Km notified for the
      Range covering 34 villages will be acquired, displacing approximately
      29000 people (Times Of India, 11-1-94). However, according to the
      Hindustan Times (Patna, 14-1-94) and the local peoples organizations
      an area covering 1 lakh Sq. Km is proposed to be acquired, displacing
      more than 2 lakh people, from 245 villages, of which nearly 78% are
      adivasis.

      A Jan Sangarsh Samiti was formed to coordinate and represent the
      interests of the people on the Field Firing Range issue. Anti project
      demonstrations were carried out in the region and at the State
      capital in 1993, Memorandums were submitted to Ministers at the
      Centre as well as State Officials. The protest, which was non-violent
      in nature, was widespread as local leaders, intellectuals, student
      unions joined hands to denounce the anti-people state policy and
      oppose the Army Firing Range. In April 1994 when the army came in for
      their routine firing the villagers staged a 5 day satyagraha and
      formed a massive blockade, forcing the Army to retreat. Just a few
      months ago, on 26th January 2004, the Army arrived in Netarhat to
      carry out its firing drill without prior notice to the people,
      violating the Maneuvers Field Firing and Artillery Practices Act
      1938. However, it had to return in the face of a determined and
      fierce opposition by the local communities being adversely affected
      by the firing practice. A peaceful demonstration was held by the
      people under the banner of Jan Sangarsh Samiti, stopping the army
      from entering the area. The army resorted to violence but people
      continued their satyagraha till the army was forced to go back on the
      January 30, 2004.

      The loud and clear message from the people to the government was to
      cancel the Pilot Project as well as the usage of these areas as
      Firing Range. In a tripartite discussion in 1997, between the people,
      the state administration and the army, the government gave its word
      that no army acquisition project would come up and no firing would
      take place in the region against the wishes of the people. Despite
      the widespread protest and the word given to the people, the
      government of Bihar renewed the notification of the area for routine
      field firing for another ten years, commencing from 2002 upto 2022.

      The people are continuing their struggle for the `right to live with
      dignity'. They are preparing to initiate a Satyagraha to protest
      against the Firing Range on 2nd August 2004, with the slogan "Jan
      Denge par Jamin Nahin Denge" (We will give our life but not our land).

      We urge all concerned individuals and groups to express their
      solidarity with the Jan Sangarsh Samiti, Netarhat in their protest by
      sending Letters of Appeal to the Defense Minister, Government of
      India, the Governor and Chief Minister, Government of Jharkhand. A
      draft Letter of protest is enclosed.

      In Solidarity

      Amitabh Behar
      Manshi Asher

      NATIONAL CENTRE FOR ADVOCACY STUDIES, PUNE


      SEND YOUR APPEALS TO

      SHRI PRANAB MUKHERJEE
      THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE
      GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
      104, SOUTH BLOCK, NEW DELHI
      FAX – 011-23015403

      SHRI RIPPLE PATY KYNDIAH
      MINISTRY OF TRIBAL AFFAIRS,
      GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
      SHASTRI BHAVAN,
      NEW DELHI-110001,
      Email: dirit@...

      SHRI MANI SHANKAR AIYAR
      UNION MINISTER OF PANCHAYATI RAJ
      GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
      NEW DELHI – 110 001.
      EMAIL: mopng.png@...

      SHRI VED MARWAH
      THE GOVERNER
      RAJ BHAVAN, KANKE ROAD
      RANCHI, JHARKHAND
      FAX – 0651-2201101
      SHRI ARJUN MUNDA
      THE CHIEF MINISTER
      CHIEF MINISTER SECRETARIAT
      KANKE ROAD, RANCHI, JHARKHAND
      FAX – 065 –2205100

      For Details Contact:

      Central Committee,
      Jan Sangarsh Samiti (NFFR)
      Post Mahuadanr,
      Latehar,
      Jharkhand
      Email - rch_alertcsj@...

      DRAFT APPEAL

      TO ,

      THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE
      GOVERNMENT OF INDIA

      THE MINISTER OF PANCHAYATI RAJ
      GOVERNMENT OF INDIA

      THE MINISTER OF TRIBAL AFFAIRS
      GOVERNMENT OF INDIA

      THE GOVERNER
      STATE OF JHARKHAND

      THE CHIEF MINISTER
      STATE OF JHARKHAND


      SUBJECT – APPEAL TO STOP THE FIELD FIRING AT NETARHAT, JHARKHAND

      This is to draw your urgent attention to the Field Firing Practice
      planned by the 23rd Infantry Division of the Indian Army at Netarhat,
      to be conducted on the 2nd of August 2004. The Firing practice will
      cause tremendous livelihood losses and physical and mental suffering
      to the local population, who are expected to vacate the area for the
      same. While the people have not received any notice yet, the army has
      issued an order to the local administration to prepare for vacating
      29 villages in the area.

      Relevant Background Information
      The Routine Firing Practice being conducted by the army since 1965 in
      the region has affected the lives of thousands of families in
      villages of Gumla, Latehar and Palamau districts in Jharkhand.

      Two state orders dated 25th November 1991 and 25th March 1992, under
      the section 9(1) of the Maneuvers Field Firing and Artillery
      Practices Act, 1938, notified an area of 1471 Sq. Km covering 245
      villages in 6 blocks of 2 districts for periodical field firing and
      artillery practice for ten years as the Netarhat Field Firing Range.

      In 1993 after the army put up a Pilot -Project proposal to the State
      of Bihar requesting for acquisition of land to set up a permanent
      Army Camp in the area. The Army claimed that only 206 Sq. Km of the
      1471 Sq. Km notified for the Range covering 34 villages will be
      acquired, displacing approximately 29000 people (Times Of India, 11-1-
      94). However, according to the Hindustan Times (Patna, 14-1-94) and
      the local peoples organizations an area covering 1 lakh Sq. Km is
      proposed to be acquired, displacing more than 2 lakh people, from 245
      villages, of which nearly 78% are adivasis.

      In April 1994 when the army came in for their routine firing the
      villagers staged a 5 day satyagraha and formed a massive blockade,
      forcing the Army to retreat. Just a few months ago, on 26th January
      2004, the Army arrived in Netarhat to carry out its firing drill
      without prior notice to the people, violating the Maneuvers Field
      Firing and Artillery Practices Act 1938. However, it had to return in
      the face of a determined and fierce opposition by the local
      communities being adversely affected by the firing practice. A
      peaceful demonstration was held by the people under the banner of Jan
      Sangarsh Samiti, stopping the army from entering the area. The army
      resorted to violence but people continued their satyagraha till the
      army was forced to go back on the January 30, 2004.

      Implications for the local population

      The population in these areas, almost 80% tribal, is dependent on
      agriculture and forest produce for their day-to-day survival. Twice a
      year the firing practice in undertaken during which the people are
      expected to bring to halt all their activities and vacate the village
      or stay indoors. This adversely affects their livelihoods and
      threatens their very survival.

      The Practice has caused severe damages to the property, land, and
      standing crops, forests and livestock, of which there has been no
      redressal. Many local persons, especially children have been injured
      and some have even lost their lives because of the explosives.
      According to the local population there have even been instances of
      sexual harassment and rape of women by the army.

      Constitutional Violations

      Article 21 of the Indian Constitution - "right to live with dignity"
      Continuing to allow the firing practice in the area is a violation of
      this article.

      Provisions under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution
      This region has a large tribal population and falls under the Vth
      Schedule to the Constitution, which was intended to preserve tribal
      autonomy, culture and to ensure social and political justice, and
      economic empowerment. The Firing Range and Pilot Project against the
      wishes of the people contradicts the spirit of the fifth Schedule.

      The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas)
      Act, 1996
      The spirit of the Vth Schedule has been further encapsulated in the
      provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act,
      1996. Section 4m (iii) gives the Gram Sabha the power to prevent
      alienation of land in schedule areas and take appropriate action to
      restore any unlawful alienation of land of a schedule tribe. The 73rd
      amendment to the constitution recognizes the Gram Sabha as the
      supreme decision making body at the village level. However, not
      involving and seeking the consent of the local Gram Sabhas, which
      have strongly rejected the continuation of Firing Range, is a clear
      violation of the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act.

      We express solidarity with the people of Netarhat in their protest
      and demand that
      i)The firing practice to be carried out in Netarhat between 2nd and
      11th August be cancelled;
      ii)The notification issued by the Government of Bihar authorising the
      Army to conduct Routine Firing from 2002 to 2022 (No. 1862, dated
      20th Aug 1999) be cancelled;
      iii)The Pilot Project proposal to acquire land in Netarhat for the
      Army Camp and Firing Range be cancelled.

      In Protest,

      Name:
      Institution:
      ______________________________________________________________
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      Serenity Complex, Ramnagar Colony, Pashan,
      Pune 411 021.
      Maharashtra,
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      Telefax: +91-20-22952003/4.
      Email: ncas@...
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      NCAS' -GOVERNANCE UNIT
      B-102, Sarvodaya Enclave,
      New Delhi 110 017.
      India
      Tel: +91-11- 26567309/26518302
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