Being a woman and Adivasi in India makes one an easy target of state violence as well as discrimination from mainstream activism. But there are some Adivasi women who stood up for their communities and humanity to preserve democracy and peace. They have waged war against the oppressive subjects of the state, capitalism and Brahminism. Here are some of the Adivasi women activists who have proved that Adivasis are not to be sidelined anymore.
1. Dayamani Barla
Image Credit: Indian Country Media
Dayamani Barla is an Adivasi woman journalist and activist from the state of Jharkhand who once worked as domestic worker, cleaning dishes for the wealthy. This Iron lady of Jharkhand is an anti-displacement activist who is well known for her staunch resistance against corporate looting of Adivasi land in the state.
She worked profusely against the Arcelor Mittal’s steel plant in Eastern Jharkhand which could possibly have displaced the Adivasis of the area. Her activism is not limited to the state of Jharkhand but to the idea of democracy. She had been the target of the state for her anti-corporate resistance and has been subjected to torture. Dayamani Di as her people call her is leading a movement against not just the giant corporates and government but resisting the collective oppression of Adivasis.
Dayamani Barla was put behind bars for her activities various times and has been the target of state violence for demanding jobs for rural labourers under The Employment Guarantee Act. Barla and her organisation Adivaasi, Moolvaasi, Astitva Raksha Manch (Forum for the protection of tribal and indigenous people’s identity) are staunchly against forest destruction and fertile land acquisition in the state of Jharkhand.
She worked in a Hindi newspaper called Prabhat Khabar where she covered various problems faced by Munda people and other tribal communities in her state. She received the Counter Media Award for Rural Journalism in 2000 alongside many such awards.
2. Kuni Sikaka
Image Credit: DGR News Service
Kuni Sikaka is a young Adivasi activist from Odisha, Niyamgiri. She is a fierce leader of the NSS (Niyamgiri Suraksha Samithi) who had been fighting against capitalist monsters -Vedanta and the Indian state. She was detained and was forced to surrender by the police for resisting Vedanta (who were destroying Niyamgiril Hills in Odisha).
Kuni Sikaka belongs to the Dongria tribe, who are being denied their right to exist by the Indian state. Even though she got detained, she never stopped fighting for her community and land. Kuni Sikaka is an inspiration to the masses who should resist the Brahminical capitalist Indian state.
3. Jamuna Tudu
Image Credit: One India Telugu
Jamuna Tudu was just armed with a bottle and sticks, she went on to protect the tribal forest from the forest mafia. Jamuna hails from Muthurkham village in the state of Jharkhand. She stands behind the project of fighting against the mafia who destroyed forests on tribal land.
She gathered other tribal women and formed Van Suraksha Samithi, which protected at least 50 hectares of forest from deforestation. The forested area is also said to be a battleground for the Indian state and Naxalites. Her organisation consists of women who patrol the jungle with dogs thrice a day. She is known for her well-organised fight against the mafia, withstanding ferocious assaults from the mafia.