Tana Bhagats, a small Oraon spiritual sect in Jharkhand identified for being peaceable and their adherence to the Gandhian lifestyle, are up in arms, having participated in two violent protests this 12 months. It has left the administration mystified and struggling to provide you with an acceptable response.
The protesters declare their agitation revolves round interpretation of the fifth Schedule of the Structure, which goals to protect tribal tradition and financial empowerment to “guarantee social, financial and political justice”.
A letter by Akhil Bhartiya Tana Bhagat Committee (ABTBC), Latehar district, which based on the protesters was imagined to have been given to the authorities, learn: “Anusuchit chhetra mein prashasanik thana, anumandal zila adalatein aur uccha nyayalaya, Samvidhan ke upbandhon ke viruddh kritya karte hue karyarat hain. Inhe tatkal bandh karein. (The operation of police stations, divisional district courts and the excessive courtroom within the Scheduled areas is towards the Structure, and must be shut down instantly).”
This was in April this 12 months, when a gaggle of protesting Tana Bhagats had locked the workplace of the collectorate, together with the Deputy Commissioner’s workplace, demanding cancellation of panchayat polls within the district, claiming it was unconstitutional.
Then, October 10, over 500 Tana Bhagats, armed with sticks and sickles, gathered exterior Latehar district courtroom and demanded full self-rule with no courts or authorities interference. They locked the courtroom premises, bringing work to a standstill. Because the matter escalated, the protesters broken its iron grille and pelted stones, prompting the police to resort to lathicharge. Out of the 228 individuals named within the FIR on the incident, over 30 had been arrested.
Two years in the past, they’d come out in protest, blockading rail tracks on the Tori Junction within the Chandwe space of Latehar district, stranding many trains, together with the Rajdhani Categorical, for hours.
The State response
Whereas police proceed to maintain vigil exterior the courtroom and district collectorate premises, Latehar SP Anjani Anjan stated, “The women and men who declare to be of the Tana Bhagat sect, had marched with sickles and lathis. They known as the police and judiciary as thieves and abused them. It resulted in violence. We arrested 30 individuals. As per our enter, there’s a small group that has hijacked the Tana Bhagat motion, and indulged within the violence. However we nonetheless don’t know who they’re. Our investigation continues.”
In Kaima village, round 10 km from the district headquarters, a lot of the aged belonging to the Tana Bhagat sect and reside in 21 homes, are on the run. Three individuals from the village, together with ABTBC secretary Bahadur Tana Bhagat, have been arrested. Sahbir Tana Bhagat, who stated he had participated in each protests, added he nonetheless can’t fathom how the protest turned violent.
“We comply with the god Dharmesh and consider in non-violence, eat vegetarian meals cooked solely by members of our group… We consider the fifth Schedule provisions are usually not adopted in lots of districts of Jharkhand, and had earlier gone to satisfy the Governor, and have submitted our petition even on the excessive courtroom,” he stated.
The earlier district administration had gifted tractors to those communities “at authorities expense”, and had additionally reimbursed the charges of twenty-two Tana Bhagat college students—to the tune of Rs 6.8 lakh—who had been enrolled for a year-long certificates course in political science at Jharkhand’s Raksha Shakti College.
A supply within the administration stated, “After their protest on the rail tracks, the district administration linked sure schemes to the group and gave them 10 tractors at no cost. Even then, they went forward and locked the premises of the collectorate constructing for 4 days. It might appear they’re being influenced by individuals belonging to different tribal communities.”
A authorities supply stated: “The Tana Bhagats are demanding sovereignty, which is illogical. Within the Latehar violence, there was a transparent presence of individuals from exterior their sect. The federal government must look into the matter urgently, in order that it doesn’t blow up just like the Pathalgadi incident.”
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren advised The Indian Categorical: “We have now a detailed affiliation with Tana Bhagats. This group by no means acts like this [the violence in Latehar]. I’ve ordered officers to take up the difficulty with urgency… There seems to be some people who find themselves interfering and giving the sect a nasty identify.”
Tana Bhagats: The Origin Story
The Tana Bhagat sect was based by Jatra Oraon of Chipri Nawatoli within the Bishunpur space of Gumla, who claimed he had acquired a divine message from the Oraon god Dharmesh, and requested his followers to affix the motion.
Within the seminal e-book, Jharkhand: Itihaas evam Sanskriti by B. Virottam, one of many incidents associated to the Tana Bhagats, an Oraon spiritual sect that claims to comply with the “Gandhian lifestyle”, describes a violent aspect of their lives. It refers back to the group’s participation within the 1942 Stop India Motion in Chotanagpur following Mahatma Gandhi’s name, and the setting on fireplace of Bishunpur Police Station in Gumla on August 18 by a gaggle of Tana Bhagats, as a mark of their protest.
Professor Ramesh Sharan, the ex-VC of Vinoba Bhave College in Hazaribagh, and has been researching the Tana Bhagats in affiliation with the Tribal Analysis Institute in Ranchi, stated the Tana Bhagats had been later additionally influenced by Birsaits—a sect based by freedom fighter Birsa Munda as an agrarian agitation and anti-conversion motion towards the British. He stated, “The issue is that they have remained scattered all through…They participated within the Ramgarh session of the Indian Congress that was attended by Mahatma Gandhi, and supported the Independence motion. The violent streak could be very unusual.”
He added that there was additionally an issue with the fifth Schedule. “It says tribal communities will perform as per their customary legal guidelines. However there isn’t a additional enlargement on the thought. So possibilities of a number of interpretations, even misinterpretations, stay. Plus, they appear to be wrongly influenced.” Hinting at a doable trigger behind the current actions of the sect, he additional stated: “There are 3,718 Tana Bhagats households with 22,676 members unfold throughout eight districts, however in Latehar alone, there are near 4,600.”
Questions of identification
Again in Kaima village, on the Upgraded Center College, there are 40 Tana Bhagat college students. Ravi Anand, the headmaster in-charge, stated due diligence is maintained to feed mid-day meals to Tana Bhagat kids. He stated: “Twice per week, we give eggs to different college students and fruits to Tana Bhagat college students, as they preserve a strict dietary code. The cook dinner too belongs to the Tana Bhagat group. If somebody unintentionally touches their utensils, the Tana Bhagat college students refuse to eat. Solely 4 out of the 25 college students current on Friday ate our cooked mid-day meals, because the cook dinner had gone to satisfy her husband, who was arrested within the Latehar violence.”
Anand additionally identified that from the land data the kids had submitted as caste certificates at college, he had discovered that the forefathers of lots of those that carried Tana Bhagat as their surnames, had registered as Oraon up to now. He added: “The federal government wants to find out if they’re really Tana Bhagats.”
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