Christians and human rights activists have demanded the Indian federal government effectively implement laws to protect tribal land. In a resolution passed during the March 28-30 assembly of tribal people, they demanded that indigenous not be displaced from their ancestral land, inclusion of tribal people as partners in development and the promotion of sustainable agricultural organic farming. Some 2,000 delegates from more than 500 tribal communities attended the assembly. They plan to submit a memorandum to Indian president Pratibha Patil, prime minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, who heads the country’s ruling United Progressive Alliance. Father Marianus Kujur, who heads the tribal unit of the Jesuit-managed Indian Social Institute, said conventions like this will give tribal people a platform to speak and raise grievances. He said tribal people are being separated from their ancestral land through displacement, migration and trafficking. However, Kantilal Bhuria, federal minister for tribal affairs, said the government is doing its best for tribal development but urged tribal people to show more initiative to join mainstream society. According to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, tribal people or “adivasis” are the indigenous people of this land and have maintained their separate identity. They are faced with the task of achieving integration without doing violence to their rich cultural and face challenges of poverty, illiteracy and social prejudice. “In the name of development they are displaced, made landless and uprooted from their dwelling places,” notes the conference’s commission for tribal people. According to the Census of India 2001, the country has 86 millions tribal people, the commission reported. IA13820.1647
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