Gond Adivasis-Lambadas rift: All you need know

Introduction

The Gond people are Adivasis, originally believed to have spread from central India, to parts of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra
Pradesh and Odisha. They have a sizable population and a long history of settlement in Telangana. The Gond people primarily speak Dravidian
languages.
Banjara Lambadas are a community that settled across the Indian subcontinent, from the state of Rajasthan. While they are listed as Backward
Class (BC) or Other Backward Class (OBC) in some states, they are listed as Scheduled Caste (SC) or ST in other states.

Issue

The Gonds, have been demanding that the state and Central government must remove Lambadas from the Scheduled Tribes (ST) list.

The tussle is over the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status, with Adivasis saying Lambada youths corner the six per cent ST quota in jobs and educational institutions. They want the ST status for Lambadas, which the government instituted in 1971, to be withdrawn.

Why?

“The Lambada Banjaras come from Maharashtra and settle in Telangana district and are availing all the government benefits although they are not
locals. In Maharashtra, Lambadas are in BC category but in Telangana they are in ST category. Although, they come from outside the state, they are
somehow managing get government jobs and are availing all the benefits under ST quota

Difference between economic status between 2 communities

Over the years, the Lambadas have become financially strong and it is much easier for them to take loans which they invest in their fields – to invest in purchase of seeds, fertilisers and pay for farm labour. A good harvest helps the Lambadas become richer while the Adivasi farm labourers stagnate.

They have pucca houses — 2 or even 3 BHKs. In every house there is at least one person who holds a government job: a teacher, a revenue official or someone in the judiciary

While the other community is still poor.

When did it begin?

In June last year, Kumram Bheem Asifabad Collector M. Champalal, a Lambada officer who has been since transferred in a bid to appease the Adivasis, issued a circular to Tahsildars to issue pahanis or the record for government land being tilled by non-tribals in the Scheduled Areas so that they are eligible for crop loans from banks. Mr. Champalal also failed to declare a holiday on the martyrdom anniversary of Raj Gond leader Kumram Bheem on October 5.

Why are both sides angry?

A host of incidents has left the Adivasis upset. In December, the statue of Raj Gond martyr Kumram Bheem at Betalguda in Adilabad district was desecrated. A couple of days later, reports of a drinking water source being poisoned evoked sharp reactions.

Government stand

The State government is “quantifying” the alleged disparity in development by collecting district-wise figures of tribal employment at all levels, especially revenue and education. The process of shifting Lambada officials from key posts has begun with the transfer of the Kumram Bheem Asifabad Collector, the District Revenue Officer of Adilabad and the Revenue Divisional Officer at Utnoor, also in Adilabad district. More transfers are likely to follow.

 

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