ACTION ALERT - April 12, 2001

Call/Fax/Write/Email the concerned officials!
Send an email to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh right away!

As you might be aware, on 2nd April, 2001, at least four adivasis (tribals) were killed in Mehendikheda village of Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh. The administration and parts of the press has been claiming that the area is infested with Naxalites and that was the reason for the police firings. We are providing a brief background here, please also refer to the preliminary report produced by Jan Sangarsh Morcha. It is essential that you act on this immediately and get as many people as possible involved.

Short Synopsis by Venu Govindu, member of the investigative team that released the preliminary report

The Forest Department has been involved with the timber mafia in large scale commercial felling (illegal) of the forests in the area (lot of it is teak). The local activist group, Adivasi Morcha Sangathan has helped mobilise the local adivasis and organise them. The Forest Dept. has been predatory and the petty officials have to be bribed for the people to get the little wood they need for house construction, to graze their cattle etc. Since the Sangathan has been formed, the people have slowly stopped giving the bribes. Also, as part of a World Bank funded Joint Forestry Management program, the Govt. has created Van Suraksha Samitis in the area. These Samitis are, in essence, part and parcel of the exploitative system that preys on the forest and the people. The Sangathan has also, at times, resisted illegal felling by stopping vehicles carrying the wood.

As the resistance built up, the Government worked to crush the activities of Adivasi Morcha Sangathan. The excuse used is that the adivasis are hoarding lots of wood and the administration launched an operation to seize illegal wood. They are using this pretext to demolish people's houses with the idea of taking away the wooden pillars, rafters etc. As you will see in the detailed report, this is actually an operation aimed at crushing the Sangathan that is challenging the forest timber nexus and also trying to empower people. There has been a steady escalation of violence against the people which resulted in the firing by the police on unarmed people. There is an atmosphere of absolute terror in the villages we visited and people have deserted their homes and are living in the forest (what with the summer heat and a drought year). The situation is quite bad with no action being taken against the Collector and SP who have personally overseen the butchering of the people. We have to hold Digvijay Singh personally responsible and demand immediate action. If they continue to get away with cold-blooded murder, they will get more power to crush nascent people's movements (which they try to defame as Naxalites). Please call/fax/email Mr.Digvijay Singh and demand immediate action.

Venu Govindu, Friends of River Narmada
April 12th, 2001

Take action! Write, email, call, fax these officials!

Please find a sample letter below. Please edit and tailor the letter according to how you would like to the tone of your letter to be. It would be great if you could take a printout of the letter, collect as many signatures as you can, and fax them to Digvijay Singh at the fax number given below. We encourage you to fax your letter since it has much greater impact than email. The fax numbers are given below. If you can follow up your faxing with an actual surface mail to the address given below, that would be useful too.

Also, please inform as many people as possible to act on this matter. It is important that the State not get away with these kind of atrocities with impunity. This action is the latest in a series of injustices in the country perpetrated against tribals who are seen as the easiest targets of exploitation. Please take action to stop this!

Friends of River Narmada
April 12th, 2001

Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
Address Shri Digvijay Singh,
Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
Vallabh Bhavan
Madhya Pradesh
Fax 0755-450 501;
Phone 91-755-450500; 91-755-(450502 to 450504)
Email OR
Phone numbers of other MP officials
Dewas District Magistrate 91-7272-52111
MP Home Ministry 91-755-551619
Jamna Devi (Deputy CM, also an Adivasi) 91-755-550479 (Work);
91-755-552163 (Home)
Smt. Urmila Singh (Minister of Tribal Development) 91-755-550706 (Work);
91-755-556578 (Home)
Suranjana Rey, Principal Secretary, Ministry for Tribal Development 91-755-551377

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