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No tribal should be evicted without settlement of claim on land rights: NHRC chairperson

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Justice A. K. Mishra, chairperson of NHRC India, on Thursday said that no tribal should be evicted without the settlement of his/her claim related to land rights.

Chairing a webinar organised by the Commission, in association with the Human Rights Defenders and Civil Societies on human rights issues during COVID-19 and the future responses, Justice Mishra said that there is already a Supreme Court judgement in this regard.

He further assured that the Commission will look into what best it can do with regards to the policy on the adjudication of the claim of tribal people on their lands and distribution thereof.

He also said that the Commission is committed to the review of various laws from human rights perspectives.

Justice Mishra said the Commission intends to continue its dialogue with the Human Rights Defenders and the Civil Society Organisations, to collaborate on efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights, more so at a time when the country faces a challenge in the form of Covid-19 pandemic.

NHRC members- Justice P. C. Pant, Dr. D. M. Mulay and Rajiv Jain, apart from senior officers, attended the online event.

Secretary General of NHRC Bimbadhar Pradhan highlighted the series of interactions held by the Commission on various thematic issues of human rights in the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic. He said the dialogue with Human Rights Defenders assumes significance. NGOs, HRDs and CSOs can play an important role in making a ground assessment of the implementation of various COVID-19 Advisories issued by the Commission to the Centre, States and UTs, added Mr Pradhan.

He said these included 12 Advisories in 2020 and seven in 2021, ensuring protection of human rights of different sections of society during COVID-19 pandemic and future responses.

Several prominent HRDs representing various human rights organisations, having dialogue with various international forums, including UN bodies and experts, participated in the discussions.

Sandeep Chahra, Executive Director, Action Aid India; Rituparna Borah, Nazaria NGO; Laxmi Narayan Tripati, Transgender Activist; Sergey Kapinos, Representative of DEIRDRE BOYD, UN; Pratima Murthy, Director, NIMHANS; Medha Patkar, National Alliance for People’s Movements; Suhas Chakma, Rights and Risk Analysis Group; Amulya Nidhi, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan; Digvijay Singh, Representative of UNDP India and Henry Tiphange, People’s Watch, participated in the webinar.

The issues addressed included rights of informal workers & bonded labours, LGBTQI+ issues, mental health, Drug abuse & rehabilitation, Business & human rights displacement & ecology, tribal rights & welfare, protection of rights of victims of silicosis, suggestions to NHRC to achieve sustainable developmental goals and National Action Plan for HRDs, the way forward.

Some of the important suggestions, among others, are as follows:

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• Developmental projects should be examined from the point of view of livelihood of displaced people as well as its social and environmental impact;

• Rehabilitation of displaced people due to development projects should be fully drawn out before the implementation of the project which should not merely include financial support;

• Rights of crematorium workers, rag pickers and nomadic people into various vocations should be ensured;

• Wages to women workers at par with men in informal sector should be ensured;

• Define Trans Rights to keep a check on the torture and human rights violations of them;

• Inclusion of mental health in every aspect of rights and the treatment gap to be reduced;

• Ensure free medical checkup and treatment of informal workers affected by work health hazards including Silicosis;

• Food insecurity during the pandemic gave rise to illegal trade in production and use of drugs and hence, the focus while rehabilitating should be on safe housing, employment, health care and social security;

• The tendency to treat urban poor as encroachers just as Adivasis in forest should be discouraged to uphold their dignity & rights.

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