‘We have the power to stop this’: Activists push for NDIS review
On Friday, activists from the Bismarcks tribe, who have been living on the reservations for decades, gathered outside the Bikur village of Rajangar in Bijapur district, demanding that the National Disaster Response Force (NDIS) be convened to review the plan.
The Bikurs, who were forced to flee their homes in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, had been demanding a full investigation into the alleged involvement of the Indian government and private contractors in the demolition of their village.
The Bikuri people say that a part of their land was illegally allotted to a private company and that they are being systematically deprived of the land they have spent generations cultivating.
The protesters also demanded the NDIS convene a probe into the incident that led to the Bikkur village being destroyed and the killing of three of their relatives.
“We have not forgotten about what happened.
We are demanding the investigation, a probe that is free of political interference,” said Arjun Pratap, an activist from the community.
NDIS is the country’s central authority tasked with investigating the cause of natural disasters.
In April, the Bicks of Rajabon village in Bikkuri village, near Rajangnar, demanded that the NDISE probe be completed within three months.
“The government and the police should have started a thorough investigation within three weeks,” said Bicks’ tribal chief Nandini Rani.
NDISE’s deputy commissioner (area) Jeevan Srivastava said the probe would be completed by November next year.
“I am satisfied with the progress of the inquiry.
We want to know the truth,” Srivas said.
However, the protest movement has faced an uphill battle in Bikuru and other tribal areas in Rajabonia.
A few days after the protest, a meeting between NDIS officials and representatives of Bikurus at the Bijipur town, in Rajangor district, led to a call by the Bick Tribal Council for a full inquiry.
NDISA’s secretary general (area), Ramesh Kumar, said he would personally meet the representatives of the Biky and Bikiri tribes.
“Our demand is not that the BIKU is given the land, but that the government is brought to account,” Kumar said.
NDISS officials said they were not aware of any such call, and said the government was already undertaking the necessary actions.
The issue of land acquisition is the central plank of NDIS’ land acquisition policy.
However, the issue has been a sore point for Biku and Bikku communities in the past, as land acquisition has often been undertaken by private contractors without the approval of the tribal administration.
The NDIS was created by the Congress government in 2002 to investigate natural disasters, but has become an irritant for tribal leaders who have criticised it for not providing adequate compensation to the bereaved.