‘It’s time Adivasis wrote, spoke about their anguish’
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In 1980, one-year-old Gladson Dungdung and his family were displaced from their agricultural land for the construction of Kelaghat dam in Jharkhand and pushed into the forests of Simdega, where Dungdung's father was arrested on allegations of felling trees. Ten years later, Dungdung's parents, during another land struggle, were murdered.
In his book, 'Whose country is it anyway?' Dungdung writes, "The Kelaghat dam was constructed with the aim of irrigating land in Simdega block. Three villages, Bernibera, Bara Barpani, and Budhratoli, were submerged and it affected 3,500 people. Currently, the water reaches only one village — Meromdega."
The book published by Adivaani and launched on Thursday at the Delhi World Book Fair by Himanshu Kumar, Swami Agnivesh and Felix Padel, is Gladson Dungdung's attempt to tell the story of his people and their struggle.
Speaking to Newsline, Dungdung says, "Over 10 years ago, every time Adivasis suffered, people wrote about it. But the narratives were not written by indigenous people. I want them to speak and write for themselves. Advasis have been discriminated against in the name of growth and development. But enough is enough, stop alienating us from our resources. The Supreme Court, in 2011, made it clear that this country belonged to indigenous people. I want the state of Jharkhand to respond to this book. The President, under the Fifth Schedule, should also respond ."
Dungdung, after his parents' death, worked as a child labourer before moving to Patna where he struggled to complete graduation through distance-education.
In 2002, he went to National Advocacy of Studies in Pune where he learned to speak and write in English. As State Programme Officer in a project sponsored by the European Union, Dungdung worked with various institutions but faced discrimination. Since 2009, Dungdung has been a full-fledged human rights activist and writer.