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The image of law depends on the way in which its agents behave, carry out their duties or perform their role. An important but neglected area of concern is the way India`s tribal population perceives the state and its legal mechanisms and structures.
Filling this gap, the book, which is the first of its kind on legal ethnography for Indian tribes, studies the relationship between tribes and the state with reference to the Indian legal system, It focuses on three tribes of India?the Bhils in Maharashtra, and the Santals and Pahadiyas in Jharkhand, which was earlier a part of Bihar. The author traces the historical roots of their dispossession in the ancient and medieval periods, their engagement with and subjugation by the Bristish, and how their ordeal of disempowerment continues even after Independence. Dr Dhagamwar looks at the historical relationship of these tribes with settled societies and also at some of their internal legal structures. The last part of the book consists of her interventions as a legal activist in the problems faced by these tribes, which culminated in public interest litigation writ petitions in the Supreme Court. She ends with a brief examination of indigenous people colonised elsewhere by Europeans.
The author concludes that independence has no real meaning for the tribes of India since they are still led by outsiders. For them, the legal system is oppressive and exploitative, seving only the rich. Taking the larger perspective, the author still retains a deep faith in the rule of law and believes that its own stated goals compel it to serve the cause of justice.
Table of Contents
Tribes in Ancient and Medieval India
I. TRIBES IN BRITISH INDIA
The Conquered Tribes
The Saura Pahadiyas of the Jungleterry: An Overview
Military Operations of the East India Company against the Saura Pahadiyas
The Jungleterry under Civil Administration
British Conquest of the Bhils of Khandesh
The Santals: A Peasant Tribe
The Santal Settlers of the Jungleterry
Settlements and Surveys in Santal Parganas
II. TRIBES IN INDEPENDENT INDIA
Faguram Bhatti`s Poem
Tenancy and Public Interest Litigation in Akkalkua
Indefinitely underTrial: The Case of the Four Pahadiyas
The Custom and Practice of Bitlaha
?Prisoner at the Bar, Are You Rich or Poor??
Behaviour, Attitudes and Perceptions: The Three Worlds of the Bhils, Santals and Pahadiyas