Ahead of the crucial Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved a Constitution amendment Bill that seeks to grant tribal status to the Hattee community living in the Trans-Giri region of Sirmaur district in the hill state.
Announcing this in New Delhi on Wednesday, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda said, “The Union Cabinet approved a proposal to add the Hattee community in the Trans-Giri area of Himachal Pradesh’s Sirmaur to the list of notified Scheduled Tribes.”
Munda said the move will benefit around 1.60-lakh people of the community, adding that “a proposal to add the Brijia community in Chhattisgarh to the ST list has also been approved”. The Cabinet also approved the proposal to add Narikuravar, one of the most deprived and vulnerable communities living in the hills of Tamil Nadu, to the ST list, Munda said.
The Hattees are a close-knit community that take their name from their traditional occupation of selling home-grown crops, vegetables, meat, and wool at small-town markets known as ‘haats’. Their native area straddles the Himachal-Uttarakhand border, and the Hattees have been demanding ST status since 1967, when the same was accorded to people living in Jaunsar Bawar area in Uttarakhand, which shares a border with Sirmaur district.
In March, the Jai Ram Thakur government had sent a detailed proposal to the Centre, seeking the inclusion of the Hattees in the ST list of Himachal Pradesh.
Some changes/inclusions will also be made in the list of Scheduled Tribes of Chhattisgarh, as per the proposals okayed in the Cabinet meet on Wednesday. For instances, Bhuinya, Bhuiyan and Bhuyan have been added as synonyms of Bharia Bhumia; while Dhanuhar and Dhanuwar have been added as synonyms of Dhanwar in the list, to extend the benefits to various phonetic usages of the same term, the minister added.
The move will enable members of the communities newly listed in the revised list of Scheduled Tribes to derive benefits meant for STs under the existing schemes of the government. Some of the major benefits include post-matric scholarship, overseas scholarship and the national fellowship, besides education, concessional loans from the National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation, and hostels for students. In addition, they will also be entitled to benefits of reservation in services and admission to educational institutions as per the government policy.