On Thursday, a sizable contingent of tribal members from five states—including Jharkhand, Odisha, and Assam—participated in a protest in Delhi. They demanded that the Centre recognise their religion as “Sarna” and guarantee their inclusion in this category during the 2019 census. The protest was planned to commemorate the day on June 30, 1855, when the Santhal Rebellion against the British officially began.
The agitators also took a pledge to intensify their struggle in order to get the government recognition to the ‘Sarna dharma code’ and held a mass prayer at Jantar Mantar, seeking blessings of their deities and revered leaders.
The protesters also vowed to step up their efforts to convince the government to acknowledge the “Sarna dharma code” and held a collective prayer at Jantar Mantar to ask for the blessings of their gods and renowned leaders. In 50 districts of Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, and Assam, the members, the majority of whom belonged to the Santhal tribe, voiced their demands under the auspices of the Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan (tribal empowerment campaign).
Salkhan Murmu, a well-known tribal leader from Jharkhand who is leading the action, told PTI, “We are here to demand that the government recognises our religion as ‘Sarna’ and include a provision in the 2019 census for enumerating Adivasis under this category.
“We intended to call President Ram Nath Kovind to express our concerns and request that he acknowledge our religion as Sarna, but we were unable to schedule a meeting with him. Therefore, we used the police to deliver a paper outlining our requests to the President “he added.
The country’s tribal people have their own religion, religious practises, and customs, according to Murmu, a former BJP MP from Odisha’s Mayurbhanj Lok Sabha constituency for two terms in a row from 1998 to 2004. However, the government has not yet recognised these practises. “We Adivasis do not identify as Christians or Hindus. Unlike any other religion, we have our own way of life, religious beliefs, traditions, and cultural activities. We worship nature. In our culture, neither the Varna system nor any form of inequality exist “added he.
“In India, there are more than 12 crore tribal people. Despite the fact that their religion is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution, they have been recognised as Scheduled Tribes “he stated.
Up to 1,000 people had travelled by rail from the five states, but not all of them could participate in the demonstration because of limits put in place because of Covid-19, according to the police.