An Adivasi’s view of the new domicile policy in Jharkhand

The domicile policy in Jharkhand is a contentious issue

Written by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar | Updated: May 14, 2016 10:29 am
jharkhand, jharkhand domicile issue, jharkhand adivasi issue, jharkhand domicile recognition, narendra modi, narendra modi jharkhand rally, jharkhand adivasi rights, jharkhand adivasi domicile status, jharkhand news, india news, latest news, indian express column There has been such a huge influx of non-Adivasi outsiders into Jharkhand that it is necessary to define who is an actual Jharkhandi and be given preference in education, jobs, etc. in the state. (Illustration: C R Sasikumar)

On Sunday, April 24, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a grand panchayati raj sammelan in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leaders Deepak Birua, Shashi Bhushan Samad, Niral Purty, and Mangal Singh Bobonga were held in preventive custody, while another JMM leader Champai Soren was kept under house arrest. Reason: The BJP-led government in Jharkhand was apprehensive that these Adivasi leaders would interrupt Modi’s sabha by protesting against the new domicile policy introduced in Jharkhand on April 7.

The domicile policy in Jharkhand is a contentious issue. There has been such a huge influx of non-Adivasi outsiders into Jharkhand that it is necessary to define who is an actual Jharkhandi and be given preference in education, jobs, etc. in the state. Despite the enormity of the issue, every party that won office in Jharkhand steered clear of formulating a domicile policy. They learned from the experience of Babulal Marandi, the first chief minister of Jharkhand and, at one time, an influential Adivasi leader.

In November 2000, the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre created Jharkhand. To show that the BJP respects Adivasis, Marandi, then with the party, was made the chief minister. This chain of having only an Adivasi as the chief minister remained unbroken till 2014. Right from the inception of Jharkhand in 2000, the Adivasis have been demanding that the khatiyan (land records) of the year 1932 be made the reference point to determine who the actual residents of Jharkhand are. This is a legitimate demand. It is obvious that the Adivasis have been living in Jharkhand from before 1932 and would certainly have their names in the khatiyan of 1932. The best method to ensure that the Adivasis of Jharkhand get their due and the creation of the state is justified is to formulate the domicile policy of Jharkhand by keeping the 1932 khatiyan as a reference point.

In 2002, Marandi, a visionary with liberal views, asked for the khatiyan of 1964 to be used as a reference point to determine the domicile policy. This meant people who’ve lived or owned land in the region as per the land records of 1964 were to be considered residents of Jharkhand. Adivasi leaders could’ve supported Marandi to create a pro-Adivasi domicile policy. Unfortunately, self-centred and politically myopic Adivasi leaders did not support Marandi. Nor did they demand the 1932 khatiyan as earnestly as they’re doing now.

The non-Adivasis opposed Marandi’s proposed domicile policy. There were violent agitations all over Jharkhand over the issue. The reason was a large chunk of non-Adivasis had come to Jharkhand, mostly from Bihar, after 1964. Marandi’s domicile policy and his stand on the Tata Steel lease issue nearly ended his political career. His own party, the BJP, clearly a party for non-Adivasis and capitalists, disowned him. He was removed from the post of the chief minister and the BJP installed another “Adivasi” leader, Arjun Munda, as the new chief minister. Marandi quit the BJP and formed the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM). But he never could be the political force he was in his heyday in the BJP.

After Marandi’s fall, every subsequent government in Jharkhand avoided formulating the domicile policy. All these governments have had Adivasi chief ministers — Munda, Shibu Soren, Madhu Koda, and Hemant Soren — but no one dared to announce a domicile policy. It was clear that though the state of Jharkhand was being led by an Adivasi, the politics of Jharkhand was not in the hands of the Adivasis. Business houses owned and run by non-Adivasis have such a manipulative presence in the politics of Jharkhand that they can topple governments and nullify laws that are not in their interest. So all Adivasi leaders realised their precarious position in their own homeland and pragmatically remained quiet.

After the BJP won the general election in 2014, the non-Adivasi outsiders of Jharkhand demanded a non-Adivasi CM who could do “vikas”. Propelled by the thumping victory of the BJP at the Centre and its “sabka vikas” agenda — and because an Adivasi is, apparently, incapable of ensuring BJP-type vikas — the party chose a non-Adivasi, Raghubar Das, for the chief minister’s office. Adivasis in Jharkhand protested, but what could be done? Having an Adivasi CM was just a symbolic gesture, not written law.

Ironically, Das is not from Jharkhand but from Chhattisgarh. He migrated to Jharkhand (then Bihar) to work with Tata Steel. Das has stated that all people living in the state for the last 30 years or more would be considered residents of Jharkhand. By creating a vague timeline like “30 years” instead of adopting a more solid parameter like the khatiyan of 1932, Das has accommodated every non-Adivasi outsider including himself. If the khatiyan of 1932 is made valid and it is proved that Das is not a resident of Jharkhand, he would not be able to contest a vidhan sabha election anymore.

The major influx of non-Adivasi outsiders into Jharkhand happened quite recently. In the 1970s and 1980s when industries prospered, non-Adivasis from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, and elsewhere came to Jharkhand to work in the factories, bought property, and settled down. Today, the situation is such that an Adivasi student, despite having his family land registered in the 1932 khatiyan, wouldn’t be considered a resident of Jharkhand if he hasn’t passed his matriculation from a school in the state. On the other hand, any non-Adivasi student who has no roots in Jharkhand, would be considered a resident if he has passed matriculation from a school in Jharkhand. A popular joke on WhatsApp says passengers of every train and bus passing through Jharkhand would be considered residents of the state.

The BJP did separate Jharkhand from Bihar, but its intention in doing so is showing only now. The Adivasis, the real residents of Jharkhand, are being sidelined, while non-advisai outsiders are taking over the state. Munda said a few days ago that the present domicile policy is against the Adivasis. Did he really mean it? Because, by some design, every Adivasi leader in the BJP who could’ve challenged Das —like Munda — lost in the 2014 Vidhan Sabha elections and cleared the way for Das and the non-Adivasi lobby in the party. If Munda and all Adivasi MLAs of the BJP are against this domicile policy, can they be expected to withdraw support for the Das government?

Today, the BJP has launched an anti-Adivasi domicile policy. Tomorrow, it might repeal the pro-Adivasi Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act to legitimise the act of non-Adivasis grabbing Adivasi lands in Jharkhand. So, this fight has to continue.

(This article first appeared in the print edition under the headline ‘A voice, under 35: The Adivasi will not dance’)

Shekhar, 33, is a novelist and works as a doctor in Pakur, Jharkhand

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  1. S
    Shiny tudu
    Jun 14, 2016 at 8:16 am
    Mr.hansda you are thousand in number with your voice and with your pen.Nobody can prevent you to air your voice among US.
    1. D
      May 15, 2016 at 4:14 am
      Absurd article. Writer should have referred Indian consution before writing on such a sensitive matter. He had written "If the khatiyan of 1932 is made valid and it is proved that Das is not a resident of Jharkhand, he would not be able to contest a vidhan sabha election anymore." He should have first read the qualifications required for contesting vidhan sabha election, which is easily available by simply using;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Again domicile policy of former C.M. Mr. Babulal mai was struck down by the Hon'bl high court of Jharkhand in PIL no. 4050 of 2002 as it is unconsutional to use deadline of 1932, and it not due to non support from other leaders. Article 19 of Indian consution allows citizens of India to move, reside and earn livelihood in any part of India. Don't think Jharkhand as separate country altogether. it is only a separate state in the union of India where any of its citizens are free to;br/gt;Please don't indulge in divisive politics of Jharkhand. First of all who have migrated to Jharkhand are not the rich peoples but the poor. One who are promoting these issues are not concerned about the development of the state but on the development of their selves. They need to answer why the state full of all types of potential is still lagging in development and its residents are forced to demand reservation in govt jobs.
      1. V
        May 13, 2016 at 8:56 pm
        Then why protest when MNS , SS and other regional parties around the country say the same thing about domicile in their States ?? Why bring up the issue of Indian Consution allows domicile anywhere the citizen seeks ? How different are you from JandK which disallows domicile except for ppl settled before or during parion ?Partisan and biased article...please write an article detailing domicile reqmts of every state in our Union and compare with Jharkhand. How will you get development unless s/he and capital moves ?? Write the same article about Bihar or Delhi or Karnataka, let's see..
        1. K
          K SHESHU
          May 14, 2016 at 12:27 pm
          Tension is rife in Jharkhand as adivasis face discrimination and the policy would add fuel to the burning issue. The state has sizeable number of adivasis and their legitimate demands must be taken into account while framing any policy.
          1. M
            Jun 18, 2016 at 6:39 am
            Typical example of write up that is short on research but wants more of say that 2014 election only non-adivasi decided the fate of Raghivar das, is simply foolish...Before writing on emotive issues like these....people should do home work...BJP won on santhal pargana also....BTW so called 1932 land record details.......gentleman there are crores of adivasis who are not having their khatian details but are more Jharkhandi then any one else....So please do not spread canard and create;br/gt;FYI - THE ADIVASIS ARE DANCING............Just open your eyes and ears.......
            1. A
              May 14, 2016 at 6:56 am
              Dear Hansda Sir,lt;br/gt;I read your article in Today's IE and could not stop myself from writing this comment. Your article have some very good points like:lt;br/gt;1. Why Mai's policy failedlt;br/gt;2. what are the problems of Adivasi;br/gt;But I found rest 70% of your article utter garbage. Though you are an Adivasi but you don't have wsome Idea about problems of our Adivasi brothers and sisters. Migration is not a problem for Jharkhand only. Its a world wide Phenomenon and there are benefits also which you deliberately choose not to mention. Don't you value the Fact that MS Dhoni has also roots outside Jharkhand but he considers himself a Jharkhandi and we all including the Adivasis are proud of him. lt;br/gt;Coming to the new Domicile policy it won't have any effect per se on Adivasis as they are already getting sufficient reservations which can't be (repeat) can't be claimed by Adivasis of other states. Domicile policy may have effect on other communities and mostly on the unreserved portion but taking a larger view every state has same policy (except JandK and some) and every otherwise eligible citizens of India could apply for jobs in the unreserved;br/gt;The chest thumping made by Adivasi leaders as is happenning today in Bokaro and elsewhere is just an attempt to capitalise on the uneducated Adivasis who are kept in perpetual ignorance by the same Tribal leaders so that they can get political milege. I am also and admirer of Shree Babulal Mai for his take on Adivasi and other issues. In fact from 2000-2002 Jharkhand made good progress under him. But he also jumped into this issue without any deliberation. Has he been little cautious at that time he could have done much more for the state and its people (Adivasi or Non-Adivasi). If there are enough opportunities No able and firm person will ask for doles like Reservation but politicians have a tendency to keep an Issue alive for scoring points as and when;br/gt;I don't understand how an educated person like you writes a one sided Article and IE Editorial team doesn't caption it with "Views are Personal". I would urge you to please have a check on my points and then rewrite this article. For IE Editorial team I am also A VOICE, UNDER 35 hope that I am also;br/gt;Thank You.
              1. A
                May 15, 2016 at 6:47 am
                I agree Adivasis face discrimination but that is not going to increase due to this policy. This policy in no way interfere in the Rights of Adivasi. This just gives some relief to those residents of Jharkhand who choose it as there Home State.
                1. A
                  May 14, 2016 at 11:35 am
                  The word ‘Adivasi’ is bogus to the core. No other country in the world use similar word to describe a section of their potion. Americans dismiss their Adivasis as ‘Indian’ while Australians call their Adivasis as Aborigines i. e. Adims. My Saontal friend says according to their oral tradition they immigrated from a land called Hihidi-Pipidi and after immigrating to this country they took part in Ramchandra’s expedition to Lanka forming part of his army. Bhumija Tribes say they came straight out of the womb of mother earth when cow Goddess KAMDHENU, urged upon by sage Vashishta to protect herself from king Vishvamitra, mooed violently. Some tribes like Rajbanshis of North Bengal, as the name indicates, are obviously descendants of some exiled prince and his companions. Some of the Tribes of the NE have immigrated to India as late as the 16th Century CE from SE Asia. Nagas used to believe, before their conversion to Christianity, that they are ‘Nags’ of the Epics and Puranas and Arjun’s wife Ulupi was their daughter. Similarly, Mismi tribes of Arunachal identify themselves with Rukmini, wife of Krishna.
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