Ten years after he first filed his claim under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), Tentulipadar forest rights committee president Jama Majhi is still waiting for a paper declaring his right over a piece of land. The FRA’s enactment in 2006 had raised hopes that the land they have tilled for generations would be recognised as belonging to them, that they would be treated no more as ‘encroachers’ on their own land.
In October 2014, however, Jama was detained at the local forest range office for two days before being sent to jail. He was accused of felling 15 teak plants. Earlier, in 1991, the same allegation—‘illegal tree felling’—had got Jama’s father three months in jail before the high court intervened. This time, his sister was also detained, but set free the next day.
Jama was released only after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) intervened. It also ordered the state to pay Rs 10,000 each in compensation to Jama and his sister.