Nearly three weeks after a group of tribals began a sit in protest at Gandhinagar against the decision of the state tribal commissioner to “review the invalidated ST certificates” purportedly issued to people who are not originally tribals, four tribal BJP MPs from Gujarat have urged the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to intervene to strike out the communities from the list of Scheduled Tribes (STs).
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, MPs Jaswantsinh Bhabhor from Dahod, Prabhu Vasava from Bardoli, Mansukh Vasava from Bharuch and Geeta Rathwa from Chhota Udepur demanded the cancellation of ST certificates issued to members of the Bharwad, Charan and Rabari communities who were not part of the original list of tribals from Gir and other forests in Saurashtra in 1956.
While multiple PILs have been filed in the Gujarat High Court by various tribal groups contending that the caste certificates issued to “undeserving candidates” has taken away the benefits of the original tribal community, Mansukh Vasava has been regularly writing to the National Tribal Commission backing the demands from tribals in Chhota Udepur, Dahod and other South and Central Gujarat districts.
The tribal communities have been taking out rallies and protest marches since over three years, alleging that the distribution of ST certificates in Saurashtra, especially to the Bharwad, Charan and Rabari communities, is against the interest of the “real tribals” of Gujarat as these communities are “non-tribals”.
In the jointly-signed letter, the four MPs said, “As per the notification of the Government of India dated October 29, 1956, the Bharwad, Charan and Rabari communities living in the nesses (pastoral hamlets) of Gir, Aalech and Barda forests were scheduled tribes. However, the notification did not apply to the communities (as a whole, who resided outside the notified areas). However, the state government has issued instructions to also issue Scheduled Tribe certificates to members of the communities residing outside the notified areas in 1978. These Bharwads, Rabaris and Charans are also related to each other socially. For a long time, there has been a conflict between the real tribals and the communities. It is, therefore, our request to you to intervene and have the communities removed from the list of the Scheduled Tribes.”
According to Vasava, the state government has issued ST certificates to members of the other communities which has deprived the tribals of their rights. Vasava said, “We have written to the Prime Minister because issuing such ST certificates is detrimental to the progress of the real tribal communities. The government jobs are taken away by these non tribals. The need to change this is grave and the fight for this will continue until the time that the communities are denotified from ST list.”
Last week, Congress leaders MLA PD Vasava from Nandod in Narmada district and former Minister Tushar Chaudhary had also joined the protest to show their support to the tribals who are protesting in Gandhinagar.
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