C. K. Janu

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Chekot Karian Janu
CK janu.jpg
Chekot Karian Janu in 2012
Born 1970
Thrissileri, Vellamunda, Wayanad district
Nationality India
Known for Sit-in Strike (2001)
Muthanga incident (2003)
Aralam Protests

Chekot Karian Janu (born 1970) is an Indian social activist.[1]

She is also the leader of Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha, a social movement that has been agitating since 2001 for redistribution of land to the landless tribal people in Kerala. The movement has positioned itself under the aegis of the Dalit-Adivasi Action Council. In 2016, she has announced a new political party, Janathipahya Rashtriya Sabha, which is contesting Kerala assembly polls in alliance with BJP, as a part of NDA.

Early career[edit]

Janu was born in Thrissileri Chekot colony, near Mananthavady, a tribal village, in Wayanad to poor tribal parents who were from Ravula community, called Adiya due to their historical background, one of the several tribal groups in Kerala who used to be indentured labourers. Adiya literally means slave and are mostly landless agricultural labourers. She did not have any formal education but learned to read and write through a literacy campaign that was conducted in Wayanad.[2]

Janu started her career as a domestic servant at a local school teacher's house, at the age of seven where she spent five years. By the age of 13, she started working as a labourer for a daily wage of Indian Rupess 2 (3.5 US cents). Later, she learned tailoring and started a small shop which, subsequently, had to be closed down due to financial constraints.[3]

Janu, in her early years, was influenced by Arikkad Varghese - a popular left-wing extremist in the 1970s - who led a tribal uprising in Tirunelli forest in Wyanad and started her social career by speaking out from personal experience. Soon she became identified as the voice of tribal people. She worked as a campaigner for the Union till 1987 when she quit the party after becoming disillusioned with them as she felt the party was less interested in the cause of the tribal people.[4] She then embarked on a tribal tour to understand their problems and to mobilise them for struggle.[3]

Kudil ketti samarm[edit]

Janu's stint with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) helped her to gain experience in party politics. In 2001, Janu led a protest march through the state and held a kudil ketti samaram in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram to demand land for landless tribal people which lasted 48 days and resulted in convincing Kerala Government to distribute land to the tribal people.[3]

Muthanga incident[edit]

Main article: Muthanga incident

In 2003, Janu also led the occupation of land at Muthanga.[5] The occupation ended with massive police violence in which a policeman and a tribal were killed.[6] It came to be known as the Muthanga incident and Janu had to undergo imprisonment and face 75 cases filed against her.[2]

The Muthanga incident refers to an incident of police firing on the tribal people in the Muthanga village of Wayanad. On 19 February 2003, the tribal people had gathered under Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (AGMS) to protest the Kerala government's delay in allotting them land, which had been contracted in October 2001. During the protest, Kerala police fired 18 rounds resulting in two immediate fatalities (one of which was a police officer). In a subsequent statement, the government placed the official death toll at five. A video of the firing was aired on several television news programs[7] and prompted noted author, Arundhati Roy, into writing You have blood on your hands.[2]

The agitation was deemed a success as, according to Janu, nearly 10,000 tribal families have received land following the 2001 agreement and over 4,000 hectares of land including the Aralam Farm land in Kannur district has been assigned to the landless Adivasis.

Aralam protests[edit]

After the Muthanga agitation, Janu shifted her concentration onto occupying land at Aralam farm, a huge cooperative farm that the government had promised to distribute amongst landless tribal people.

Janu is sometimes described as the first 'organic' leader of tribal people in Kerala[8] and holds status among notable women politicians in Kerala such as KR Gowriamma and Kunnikkal Ajitha. She is reported to be devoid of abstract political dogmas. She has often cooperated with national and international indigenous people's organisations but was always very wary of being funded by any organisation. Most of the activities of the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha are funded entirely through the solidarity of poor tribal people and former untouchables.

Mother Forest: The Unfinished Story of CK Janu[edit]

An autobiography, a small book consisting of only 56 pages, 'Janu: The Life Story of CK Janu, was published in Malayalam by DC Books in 2003. The book was later translated into English by N Ravi Shankar under the name, Mother Forest: The Unfinished Story of CK Janu.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

In January 1994, the Kerala government presented Janu with the award for the best Scheduled Tribe Social Worker; however, she declined the award because the government had thus far not acceded to the thirteen demands of Kerala tribal people.

Janu represented India at a United Nation Conference of the tribal leaders from all over the world. She also toured Europe in 1999 on behalf of the Peoples' Global Action Group and gave speeches at more than 120 locations in eight countries. In 2000 Janu participated in the second International Conference of the People's Global Action Group in Bangalore.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rosenau, James. Distant Proximities: Dynamics Beyond Globalization. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003. pp. 237. Print. [1]
  2. ^ a b c Kumar, N Vinoth. Tale of a tribal struggle for land. March 12, 2013. The New Indian Express [2]
  3. ^ a b c C K Janu: 'Experience is my guide'
  4. ^ India: Interview with Ms. C.K. Janu , Leader of Tribals in Kerala
  5. ^ The Hindu : Janu, Geetanandan arrested
  6. ^ The Hindu : Two killed as tribals, police clash
  7. ^ "Two killed as tribals, police clash". The Hindu. 20 February 2003. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  8. ^ http://www.drustvo-antropologov.si/AN/PDF/2011_2/

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]