By Arun Srivastava
The new face of Adivasi identity, Hemant Soren, son of the legendry tribal Guruji, Shibu Soren , has blown the war trumpet against the BJP’s design to impair the sensibility of Adivasi individuality and turn Jharkhand into the colony of the capitalists advocating the Hindutva political line by attacking at the social and political base of the saffron brigade in Jharkhand.
A large section of the upper caste Biharis who migrated to Jharkhand, even before Jharkhand, the homeland of the adivasis came into existence on November 15, 2000, has embraced BJP for the simple reason of grabbing the opportunities and land of the adivasis. Though some devoted to the cause and welfare of the adivasis, most of them despised them and grabbed their land by circumventing the statutory provision under which tribal land could not be purchased.
A survey of the sale of the land during last fifty years will unravel the truth that these people used a proxy tribal to purchase and grab the lands. These people in fact have been strong support base of the BJP. The adivasis whose lands were acquired by the government for various projects, like SubarnRekha, have turned aliens in their own land. Though on record the tribals have been provided with alternate rehabilitation and place to live, the reality is most of them have migrated to adjacent districts of Bengal and are leading the life of a casual labourers.
The earlier BJP government had even ventured to allot vast tracts of tribal lands to big corporate houses, like that of Adanis who will be producing power in Jharkhand and selling it to Bangladesh. This is only one example. A number of corporate projects have come up in the region.
In order to check this fraud being perpetrated on the poor adivasis Hemant Soren government last week decided to fix land survey records of 1932 as the basis for obtaining residential certificates for appointment in jobs and admission in the state. Another decision taken is to increase reservation in jobs for socially and economically weaker sections to 77 per cent. This decision is a mechanism to protect the Adivasi interest and solve the land question. Cabinet principal secretary VandanaDadel said; “The cabinet approved proposals to send these two bills after ratification from the state Assembly to the Centre to include them in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution”. Significantly, a law in the Ninth Schedule is shielded from judicial review.
But Hemant and his JMM colleagues are apprehensive of the attitude and response of the Modi government towards it. They are also weary of the attitude of the judiciary. A senior JMM leader said; “It is important to get it included in the Ninth Schedule in the backdrop of the past experiences of 2002 when the Jharkhand High Court (in November 2002) quashed the then Babulal Marandi’s BJP-led government notification that stipulated that persons whose names, or those of their forefathers, figure in the 1932 survey settlement of land records would be deemed ‘domicile’ of Jharkhand, and such persons would be eligible to apply for government jobs (Class III and IV) and for admission to technical institutions”.
The high court bench headed by then chief justice V.K. Gupta had then termed the policy a case of “hostile discrimination of the public at large” while setting aside government’s notification issued in 2002 after the state was carved out of Bihar in November 2000. There had been widespread violence across Jharkhand between tribals and non-tribals after the decision in 2002.
Even Vandana Vadel is on record to have said; “The cabinet has approved the ‘Jharkhand definition of local persons and for extending the consequential, social, cultural and other benefits to such local persons Bill, 2022’. As per the bill, people who have their names of their ancestors’ name in the khatiyan (land records) of 1932 or before will be considered as a local inhabitant of Jharkhand.”
Besides, those who are landless or do not have their or their families’ names in the 1932 khatiyan, respective gram sabha would have the power to certify them based on their language, customary traditions, the cabinet principal secretary informed. This bill will virtually choke the BJP and RSS drive to spread in the Adivasi Jharkhand.
Interesting to note that from the beginning the RSS and BJP have been working against the interest of the adivasis and protecting the vested interest of the migrant non-adivasis. Their first move was identify them as vanavasis, refusing to acknowledge their Adivasi identity. This has been the most dangerous mechanism to deny their rights on the forests and land. In their machinations the non tribals who had migrated from the plains were the prime motivators.
This move of Hemant has strengthened the trust and confidence of the Adivasis. The second move of Hemant has further helped to base of them RSS and BJP. As per bill, reservation of ST would go up to 28% (from 26%), OBC would get 27% (up from 14%) and 12% for SC (up from 10%). The two bills has simply boosted the image of Hemant. There was jubilation among tribal groups across Jharkhand after his cabinet approved two decisions last Wednesday. The second bill cleared by the cabinet proposes to increase reservation in state jobs for the socially and economically weaker sections of the society from 60% to 77%. It is not that he had not cared for the poor non tribals, who have also been suffering the wrath of the rich and capitalists. He has earmarked 10% reservation for EWS (economically weaker section). With this total reservation would go up to 77%.”
Hemant also observed; “The cabinet today has taken historic decisions. While quota for OBCs has been increased, 1932 land records as basis for domicile is also being implemented. The government is sensitive towards the needs of all sections of the society, be it the farmers, youth, teachers, constables, or the common man. We are fulfilling our election manifestos one after another”.
The enthusiasm amongst the Tribals could be visualised from their taking out AbharJulus (gratitude march) across the state expressing gratitude to Soren’s government for taking the decision on 1932 land records. Former Tribal Advisory Council member RatanTirkey who had been in the forefront of agitation in 2002 espousing cause of 1932 as land records to define locals termed it as fruition of longstanding struggle. According to him “struggle for over four decades has been realised. It is a day of celebration. The tribals had so far been cheated by mainstream parties”.
The BJP supporters are not going to accept this as it endangers the very existence of the saffron brigade in the state. EktaVikasManch has warned of going to court against the passage of local policy based on Khatian of 1932 in the cabinet of Jharkhand government. They nurse that the decision will create a situation of discrimination among the people living in a cordial environment in Jharkhand. Strange enough they visualise that this would give rise to civil unrest in the state.
The BJP supporters hold that those staying in Jharkhand in 2000 should have been declared locals instead of 1932 as the cut-off year. For them it is injustice for people irrespective of religion, caste or province or community as all have played a role in the state’s development. These people are planning to go to court against the government’s decision.
Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren had in June this year said the Assembly had passed a resolution in a special session in 2020 demanding Sarna dharma code to be included in the census and submitted it through the governor to the Centre. However, no decision has been taken by the BJP-led central government on the issue. Meanwhile sources close to Hemant express apprehension that BJP leaders in the changed political situation would use extreme nature of pressure on the Governor to accept the recommendation of the Election Commission to unseat him. This coercive measures is the only mechanism left to the Modi-Shah combine to destabilise his government. (IPA Service)