This Report traces the narratives of inclusion and exclusion of Dalit forest-dwelling communities in the process of formulating and implementing the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA). The process of formulating the FRA saw the creation of a new category of beneficiaries called ‘Other Traditional Forest Dwellers’ (OTFDs), which includes Dalit forest-dwelling communities. This Report documents the politics and priorities that paved the way for such a classification to emerge. It lays the foundation for a theory of evidentiary bias, which forms the legal basis of exclusion of Dalit forest-dwelling communities and OTFDs, as they are required to provide 75 years of evidence to claim their tenure rights despite not being in a position to access such evidence.
The Report explores the strategies of resistance adopted by Dalit forest-dwelling communities in overcoming this evidentiary barrier by exploring the different scripts of resistance developed by communities in Chitrakoot and Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh, and Kandhamal in Odisha. The Report concludes by unpacking the relationship between untouchability, caste bias and the implementation of the FRA.
This PDF was revised and uploaded on January 18, 2016, to correct an error in footnote 5.