Citizen Engagement – Exemplars and Realities
Mudalimadiah is a very senior and respected chieftain of the Kadukuruba tribal community. Though I have known him since 1987, we became close only after 1996 when we had started our engagement with the National Human Rights Commission on the issue of displacement and rehabilitation of the tribals in Heggadadevanakote. It was a time when the tension between the forest department and the tribal communities was quite palpable, and even small incidents could potentially turn into explosive situations. The callous and insensitive attitudes of the forest department and the police were making the tribals increasingly restive as the struggle for justice kept becoming longer. Fatigue was creeping in and it was getting difficult to keep the spirits up and the agitation going. The younger generation was showing signs of turning the protests violent and were pushing me to take more visibly strident steps. I also had very little to show in terms of success and my arguments to continue with the non-violent struggle were either weakening or ceasing to have an impact. At times, I was myself feeling low and wanted to give up....
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