People from the Nomadic Tribes & Denotified Tribes (NT-DNT) on Thursday demanded separate reservation for them, bifurcated from the 27% reservation for OBC (Other Backward Classes) communities, in their interaction with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani during the Mukhya Mantri Sathe, Mokla Mane (At Ease with the Chief Minister) initiative.
Apart from this, the community also sought a census to ascertain their exact numbers and their social, educational and economic status. The Mukhya Mantri Sathe, Mokla Mane is an initiative begun by Rupani in which he freely interacts with people from various segments of society at the chief minister’s official residence here, once in a month.
Interacting with the CM, Vinodbhai from Surat said the NT-DNT communities get reservation under the 27% OBC quota but are so poor and underprivileged that they cannot compete with other OBC communities to take advantage of the reservation. “So, it is my request to give separate reservation to NT-DNT communities (out of the 27% OBC quota) on the pattern prevailing in Maharashtra,” Vinodbhai said.
Another community member, Vadi Ranchhod from Batuk-vada village of Santrampur tehsil in Panchmahal district told the CM, “There are 40 NT-DNT communities in Gujarat. However, nobody has any exact idea of its population.” He demanded a census in the state to ascertain the exact their status in terms of education, health, housing, economy etc.. Such a Census, he added, would be very helpful in deciding a policy for the communities.
The NT-DNT communities are among the most vulnerable in society, as they are deprived of housing and even identity proof to avail of the benefits of government schemes. Some of the NT-DNT communities of Gujarat include Vaadi, Salat, Saraniya, Bajaniya, Chamthha, Pavri, Dafer, Parakara, Madaari, Nat, Raval, Bahurupi, Bhavaya, Devipujak, Bharathari, Kangasiya, Oad, Chhara, Pardhi, Miyana, Bafan, Turi and Garo.
Several of them make a living as snake charmers, magicians, and bamboo workers. Communities such as Dafer and Chhara are stigmatised as being prone to committing crimes. Several people from these communities appealed to the Chief Minister to address police atrocities against them owing to bias.
Atish Chhara from Chharanagar of Ahmedabad city told the Chief Minister, “There is 100% education in Chharanagar. However, there is no job placement because of the stigma that Chharas are criminals by birth. There are artists and filmmakers from the community,
but there is no job. Also, the police’s behaviour towards Chharas has always been bad. So, it is my request that there should be an (anti) Atrocity Act for such communities.”
Others from the Dafer community also told the chief minister about the harassment they face at the hands of the police.
Other issues discussed included the difficulty these communities faced in obtaining ration cards and other identity proof. They faced hurdles in getting housing plot allotments as well and they requested that the residences of members of the community that did not have legal doscuments be regularised.
Expressing his government’s commitment to the uplift of the NT-DNT communities, Chief Minister Rupani said his officers had noted all the issues raised during the interaction and attempts will be made to remedy them. Rupani also appealed to the educated people among the NT-DNT communities to take the lead in ensuring the welfare of their people.
Addressing the complaints of stigma being faced by some NT-DNT communities, Rupani said entire communities cannot be labelled as having criminal tendencies, and that it was also the responsibility of the community to isolate people who indulged in criminal acts.