Challakere villages boycott elections as political parties ignore their
appeal against diversion of their Amrit Mahal Kaval
Villages of Challakere in Chitradurga district, Karnataka have boycotted the Lok Sabha (Parliament) elections held on 17th April 2014 in protest against the illegal and secretive diversion of their Amrit Mahal Kavals (grassland forests) that form the main source of their life and livelihoods for about 300000 people in 80 villages. The villagers have for years struggled to draw the attention of all political parties and the Government to the fact that all existing laws and policies have been comprehensively violated in Kudapura, Varavukaval and Ullarti Amrithmahal Kavals while transfering over 10000 acres of pristine grassland forests to Defense Research Development Organisation (DRDO), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Indian Institute of Science (IISc),Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Sagitaur, Karnataka State Small Scale Industries
Association and a host of other national and transnational companies in building India’s largest corporate military-industrial comples.
The people of these villages along with their Panchayat members have never been consulted in any decision relating to the diversion of the Kavals, and the whole operation was conducted in absolute secrecy. Life in these villages is completely dependent on the Kavals and the people and their animals have no water and fodder, as their access to the Kavals have been denied and are facing
serious difficulties. Several are being forced to sell their livestock in distress and migrate to urban areas to live off their labour on the streets.
“Our Fundamental Rights are violated. Our repeated requests, pleadings, representations to all elected members at every level has yielded no result and we remain ignored and forgotten. Why should we vote?” ask the villagers at Challakere. They say not a single political party, including the so-called progressive and non-corrupt ones, have taken up their cause during these elections. It is evident that people of these villages have lost faith in the representative democratic system as they have been deprived of their rightful opportunity to voice their concern, especially regarding access to their Kavals, their commons, their water bodies, to support their livestock and various other
“We are upset with every political party for their indifference to our crisis. Therefore, we have collectively decided to boycott the elections. Polling booths in our villages remain empty with no one stepping out to cast their vote. This is our message to the powers that be. We dare them to come again to our villages with their empty promises”, say slogans on the walls of the villages that have comprehensively boycotted the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The village Tahsildars have tried unsuccessfully to convince villagers, who refuse to budge from their position – not to vote – tired of several false assurances and manipulations.
For more details please contact: Dodda Ullarti Karianna, Cell: 99009546649900954664
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