On Wednesday, more than 7,000 radio cabs are expected to be off Hyderabad’s roads, nearly 5,000 municipal sanitation workers and 2,000 garbage trucks and drivers will not report for duty.
There is a tussle brewing in Telangana. It is between Adivasi Gonds, originally believed to be from central India who settled in these parts long ago, and Lambadas of Banjara or nomadic tribes and originally from Rajasthan. And the tussle is over the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status — both communities are in the state’s ST list, but Adivasis feel Lambada youths are using the 6-per cent ST quota and cornering all jobs and seats in educational institutions at their expense. They want the government to withdraw ST status for Lambadas.
Three days after a big protest by Adivasis, who have called for a boycott of Lambadas, especially teachers and doctors from the community, the 10 main Lambada associations of Telangana met on Tuesday and formed “Lambada Aikya Vedika”. They decided to hold a massive public meeting in Hyderabad on Wednesday to counter the Adivasis.
While Adilabad in north Telangana has become the hotspot for anti-Lambada protests by Adivasis, Lambadas are concentrated in and around Hyderabad, and are countering it from here.
“We are expecting at least 5 lakh Lambadas to attend the meeting at Saroornagar stadium, the venue where the Adivasis gave their call from,” said Bhukya Sanjeev Nayak, president of Sevalal Sena, the biggest Lambada outfit in the state. “Lambadas are being abused, boycotted and attacked. The allegation that Lambadas are cornering 6 per cent quota for STs is baseless — reserved seats and positions are lapsing as there are no eligible takers.”
Another Lambada leader said, “To make a living, we drive garbage trucks, Ola or Uber cabs, clean toilets and bathrooms in hotels, work as security guards; our women work as household help or sell maize rotis on the roadside. But Adivasis claim we are taking their jobs. Who stopped them from working?’’
Agothu Rambabu, a Lambada leader at Nandi Nagar ‘thanda’ —— a Lambada settlement — in Banjara Hills explained the purpose of Wednesday’s counter-protest: “Drivers will bring their vehicles, masons will bring their tools, sanitation workers and household helps will bring their brooms to the meeting. We want to show Adivasis that we have not prospered or become rich, as they believe. We will show them our work tools, so that they understand our work to earn a living,’’ Nayak said they will prove — “with facts and figures” — how little the community has benefitted from the reservation.
According to Lambada Hakkula Poratha Samiti, there are 25 lakh people from the community in Telangana. The 31 tribal communities that make up the rest of ST population are together about 13 lakh. In Telangana Assembly, the association points out, seven of 12 ST MLAs are Lambada, and five are from other Adivasi communities. “We are grossly underrepresented everywhere, but are still blamed,’’ Nayak said.