Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Plight Of The Denotified Tribes : Part III

“Where have you come from?”…Mansubya asked… “Pune”, was the honest answer. Mansubya Bhosale was lost in the past…very fair and was at least 6ft 7inches in height with sharp nose, a little beard on the sagging skin of his face, sharp & penetrating eyes. He dragged on the floor of his cave, came out and stood up with the support of a stick…he appeared at least two feet taller… Mansubya walked behind his cave with his legs shaking…he stopped near a bush..and started digging…his grandson Jaya started helping him…after digging a foot deep, he took out a box and opened it…it had 3-4 silver coins kept in a red cloth and another cloth had a very well carved silver grip of a broken sword… “This belonged to my grandfather… Samshirya”, Mansubya said while his eyes were lost in the past, “he had gone on war with the King of Pune…but Firangs (British) killed him by cannon.”… “What is your age?” I asked… Jaya answered, “10 over Hundred”…
The simple thought that Mansubya’s grandfather Samshirya (Samsher which means a sword in Urdu) might have fought against the British during the battle of 1857 along-with the Nanasaheb Peshwa brought shivers to me… and here were his descendants, hiding in a cave on the outskirts of Maharashtra near Tuljapur… how his family must have ran away and survived for the past 150 years was inconceivable. But the reality that they were striving to live in such a pathetic state was cruel and ungrateful for the entire nation.
After de-notifying these tribes, the government should have undertaken various methods of bringing them into the mainstream through various schemes of settlement, education, employment opportunities. These tribes possess such a huge knowledge of the nature, the herbs, the jungles and have so many skills that some vocational guidance should have been extended to them so as to enable them a dignified living with the help of their own knowledge & skills. But it did not happen and on the contrary, new unjust laws & rules were made to confine them to the hell they were living in. Even a caste-wise census also has not been made to understand their population & their whereabouts since 1931 and unless it is done, no scheme can be formed to extend justice to them. The law of the distribution of land exists but since these tribes do not have any identity proof (birth certificate/caste certificate/residence proof), even a willing bureaucrat can not help them. And this is not the only tribe, there are 193 more such facing similar situation.
The government did what it does when it doesn’t actually want to deliver…it formed commissions to look into the “Real” problem. As many as 9 commissions were specifically formed to “study” the problems of these tribes and to suggest remedies to address those problems. These 9 commissions were formed apart from the mandatory commissions formed after every ten years to study the same issues concerning SC & STs. But since none of the recommendations were implemented in the last 63 years, it implies that either the hundreds of the members of the so many commissions did not work properly or the government did not look at it seriously.
The latest of the reports is submitted by the Renke Commission. It has made an extensive and in-depth study of the possible population, their demographic presence, problems and remedies to bring them into the main stream. It has recommended distribution of land, setting up villages of the tribes, providing them education, vocational guidance, launching a nation wide campaign to make people and the administration aware of these people and to create a separate schedule for them for reservations and proper social/economical/political representations. And it is most important. The population is huge and is poor. Fortunately they are patriotic and not anti-national. So before the situation goes out of hands for all, it’s better to awake and offer them their rightful share in the development of the nation. Be better do it and do it fast !

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Plight Of The Denotified Tribes : Part II

Dipak Bhosale was running with all his strength…the terrain was rough but was known to him…the 11 year old Dipak was scared….52 policemen were following him for 30 minutes… one of the policeman fired at him…the bullet pierced through his calves…then another came and then another…he fell down…he was arrested and he was accused of a murder that had taken place 7 years ago…when Dipak was only a four year old kid…oblivious of the bitter truth that he was also born in a wrong tribe…
After Independence, in 1952, Jawaharlal Nehru went to Solapur, symbolically opened the gate of a barbed fence of a concentration camp and announced the declaration of a notification of cancelling the British notification of “Criminal Tribes” and formally de-notified the tribes. But officially, absolutely nothing was done to bring this huge, patriotic population to the main stream. On the contrary, in 1959, a new law named “Habitual Criminal Act” was implemented to continue the legacy of the British “Criminal Tribes Act”, in complete contradiction to the so called social justice & social welfare. So instead of treating them as born criminals, a new term was introduced to treat them as “habitual” criminals. The social stigma was continued. Even during the trainings of the police officers in their academies, they were taught of the new act with the backdrop of the British act of “Criminal Tribes” and hence, the impact & the treatment continued.
The impact was so deep and ruthless that in 2008, an 18 month old son of Aamosha Bhosale, a Paardhi in Ahmednagar district was booked under the crime of a robbery. He was arrested, a policeman lifted him in his arms & produced in the court; even the Judge asked for his bail and when a bail produced, he was released. Till then the 18 month child was in police custody. Even the Judge was insensitive enough not to question the authorities of how a toddler can possibly be an accused in the case of a robbery.
In 2010, a 13 year old son of a Paardhi was pelted with stones and was killed by the mob in Solapur district in Maharashtra on the assumption of his involvement in a robbery. Later, it was clear that on the day of robbery, the child was very much present in the boarding school of an NGO which runs school for the Paardhi children.
The government negligence is so much that apart from a very few sound bites in the media reports nothing was done. There are over 193 tribes in India comprising a population of over 12 crores who have been subject to this torture, harassment & complete social negligence for over 150 years now. The Paardhi, Masanjogi, Berad, Kanjarbhat, Shikalgar, Masanjogi, Maragamaa, Kaikadi, Dombar, Kolhati, Bahurupi, Gondhali, Vasudeo and almost 193 such tribes were refused any possibility of integration with the society. This forced them to keep wandering, hunt animals, remain uneducated and at times, when no hunt was possible, then resort to petty thefts. The only time the so called civilized society called them was when big wild boars would enter their farms and endanger the crop.
Then, the Paardhi goes to the farms…with two very sharp knives in both the hands…rest of the crowd creates a big noise with drums, crackers and shouting…the wild boar is forced to move towards the armed Paardhi…he stands in front of a huge net spread across the border of the field with knives in his hands…the wild boars runs towards him roaring…the risk of getting cut into two pieces with the huge tooth of the wild boar and a moment before the wild boar jumps towards the Paardhi to tear him apart, the brave collapses down and when the boar is passing over him, he cuts the stomach of the wild boar with both the knives in his hands…the boar with a torn stomach falls in the net and is captured…in return, the tribe gets a prize of 5Kg of grains and the wild boar.

To be continued…

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Plight Of The De-notified Tribes : Part I

“I was raped by four persons including the Patil (village chief) of the village on my wedding night…my husband was severely beaten up & tied to a tree by ropes...we were crying, shouting…”, Jayashri Bhosale a woman of the Paardhi tribe in Osmanabad district of Maharashtra was telling me. Later, the next day her husband Kasturya & Jayashri went to the police station to file a complaint but there again…instead of filing her complaint, she was molested again by the police…again in front of her husband and when he tried to resist, he was booked under attempt to kill and was arrested…
Jayashri tried to plead her plight in the court and she told the judge that she was first gang-raped and later molested by the police but her complaint is not registered. She couldn’t afford a lawyer as he too had an eye on her flesh but even the judge did not listen to her cries & begging for justice… witnesses, evidences everything was managed and now Kasturya is serving a seven year term in Jail…
Their only fault was that they were born in the wrong tribe…something which was beyond their control. The Paardhi tribe was notified as one of the “Criminal Tribes” by the British way back in the 1871. Actually, Paardhis were an extremely brave tribe serving as the frontline soldiers with the kingdoms of the Peshwas, the Rajputs and the rulers of the central India. After losing the battle of the 1857, many of these tribes associated with the earlier Kingdoms had to disappear and take shelter in the Jungles. Many were arrested and hanged by the British and the rest were declared as “Criminal Tribes” through a notification. The arrested women & children were kept in concentration or settlement camps under vigilance. The “Criminal Tribes” were not allowed to be in any village for more than 72 hours and the village chiefs were ordered to report of their existence, possessions and movements to the Police.
So, throughout the Independence Movement which was stretched over a period of the next 90 years, these notified “Criminal Tribes” remained deprived of the basic rights, education, and any livelihood earning opportunities and most importantly remained deprived of the social acceptance. They had to wander in the jungles, depend on herbal medication (in which they became an expert) and live on the hunting of animals. And whenever they tried to cross the limits of their forced exile, they were beaten up, arrested, jailed or at times even killed by the so called civilized society but they kept on increasing in numbers for the lack of any family planning awareness or facilities available.
Today, they are estimated to be more than 12 crores plus in population spread across the country…this is nearly equal to the population of the United Kingdom but for us in India, they do not exist in the census, they do not exist in the voters list, they don’t have residence proofs, they can’t have ration cards, they do not get admissions in schools, they don’t have birth certificates and they don’t get death certificates also…but they still feel proud to be Indians and often their children are named like “congresshya”, “Tilak”, “Shivaji”, “Bharat”, “Laxmi”…
To be continued…