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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 February 2006, 18:05 GMT
India tribesmen defy jungle ban
Nearly 5,000 tribespeople have held a rally in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh to defy a government ban on collecting and selling jungle produce.

The tribespeople accuse the government of trying to throw them out of the jungle, where they have lived for a long time.

The government has denied all such accusations by the tribespeople.

The protesters say they have not been compensated or offered alternative livelihoods by the government.

The tribespeople, many of whom make a living from the forests, brought with them honey, berry and baskets made of bamboo in a symbolic show of defiance of the ban.

Facing problems

They said many tribals were misplaced when the government constructed 29 dams on the Narmada river which flows through Madhya Pradesh.

The protesters said the government was planning to set up a tiger reserve near Hoshangabad, which they said would uproot more than 20,000 tribals.

They said tribals in other parts of India were facing problems of survival.

The tribespeople said that in mineral-rich states like neighbouring Orissa and Jharkhand, steel companies were setting up plants on land that belonged to tribals.

Last month, 12 tribespeople and a policeman were killed after officers opened fire on demonstrators at the proposed new site of a state mill in Orissa.

Thousands of tribespeople armed with bows and arrows blocked road and rail traffic near the mill after the incident.

The tribespeople are demanding that land acquired for the state-run Rourkela Steel Plant nearly 50 years ago should be returned to them.

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