Ahmedabad: The leaders of the Nomadic Tribes, De-notified Tribes and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NT/ DNT/SNT) are up in the arms against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s newly set up committee to identify and then include new communities within SC, ST or OBC reservation categories.
Tribal leaders feel that this politically motivated move is nothing but a conspiracy to deprive them of their rights.
During the interim budget, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal had announced that the Centre will form a panel under the NITI Aayog to identify Nomadic, Semi-Nomadic and De-notified communities, who were previously left out of the reservation pie and all welfare scheme meant for backward communities.
As per the report prepared by the National Commission on DNT, NT, SNT headed by Bhiku Ramji Idate, over 260 extremely marginalised communities have never been identified or included in any of the reserved categories. The report has been pending implementation with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment since January 2018.
Speaking to News18, Dakxin Chhara, Convenor of the National Alliance Group of Nomadic Tribes and De-Notified Tribes (NAG-DNT) objected the Centre's recent new committee calling it an attempt to make political gains by including communities which are not “historically” NT, DNT and SNT.
“After India got Independence, the government had then identified 200 such tribes. There may be few tribes left out which may need to be included into scheduled category but it can’t be 260 communities claimed by Idata Commission,” Chhara said.
The Chhara led-forum was founded by Magsaysay, Gyanpith award winner and writer-activist Late Mahasweta Devi in 1998 with 125 NT and DNT communities from 16 states.
“We strongly believe that this is an attempt to include many castes and communities into the definition of NT, DNT and SNTs,” Chhara asserted, adding “the new exercise is nothing but politically motivated.”
He said via this move to include more, many communities, who are at present in general category and historically or traditionally do not belong to NTs, DNTs or SNTs, are being made to fit the definition.
“But, this is unacceptable to us,” Chhara declared.
Leaders from NAG-DNT communities have said that they are going to meet Bhiku Ramji Idate in the first week of April to lodge their protests against the government’s move.
Ahead of the Lok Sabha Polls, they also forewarn nationwide protests if the demands they place before the commission are not met with.
“Our first demand is to give NTs-DNTs and SNTs 10 percent sub-quota within OBC wherever they are included in OBC category,” Chhara said, reasoning a historical policy paralysis because of which some tribes were included in different categories of reservation in different states.
“There is an urgent need to make a uniform approach to the development of these tribes,” he added.
According to NT, DNT leaders, due to the historical and systematic injustices committed against them, both during pre and post-Colonial India, these tribes have been socially distressed, economically broken and politically excluded.
“Even today the tag of criminality attached to DNTs and nomadic way of life of NTs leads to suspicion about them in the minds of the people. DNTs get stigmatized as criminals. Also, The Prevention of Atrocities Act, which is currently applicable to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, should be extended to NT-DNT and SNTs,’’ Chhara demanded.
Leaders are also demanding a Permanent National Commission for the De-Notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes. According to an estimate, there over five crore Nomadic, De-notified and Semi-Nomadic tribes in the country.