This article examines the understanding of collectivism and sisterhood among Oraon tribal women in the Netarhat Field Firing Range movement. Further, this study discusses tribal women’s consciousness of repressive operations of the state and of their experiences of triple oppression as a tribal group, as women, and as activists. Tribal women’s goals, however, are much more than women’s liberation; they demand tribal autonomy and the right to forest resources so that tribal people can live peacefully in their regions. This study also looks at how a group of women shared their gender-based grievances as well as their everyday struggle under militarized control of their villages. Often, women’s groups are at the forefront of rallies and marches, mobilizing the villagers and attending village meetings, but the male-dominated society rarely views women’s revolutionary accomplishments as an effort of sisterhood. The state government agreed to the tribal demand not to re-notify the Netarhat Field Firing Range Project, not only because of the efforts of the men of the society but also due to women’s willpower, solidarity, and bravery within the movement.

Using the narrative approach, this research aims to explore tribal women’s lived experiences and everyday struggle during the Netarhat field firing range project with reference to fieldwork conducted in the villages of Mahuadanr, Banari, Navatoli, and Sakhuapani where tribal women activists played a key role. Until now, tribal women's lived experiences, narratives, and consciousness during the different contemporary movements of Jharkhand have been ignored by most scholars. Studying this site is very relevant to understanding tribal women’s questions, issues, and feminist standpoints. The fieldwork for this paper was conducted as part of the author’s PhD research in Chotanagpur and the Kolhan regions of Jharkhand state, India. The study found that the Netarhat Field Firing Range movement was based on truth claims and followed the Gandhian ideology of non-violence to achieve rights. Further, this paper explores the sisterhood and solidarity amongst tribal women activists, and how non-tribal activists helped strengthen the tribal movements.

Author Biography

Dr. Sunita Purty is an independent researcher who was a research fellow at the Indian Association for Women’s Studies. She holds an M. Phil. and Ph.D. in Women’s Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India. Her research interest includes women’s studies with a specific focus on rural livelihood, tribal women’s standpoints, tribal movements, and decolonizing methodologies. Email id: sunitamail2me@gmail.com