Salkhen demands separate Sarna code

| | Ranchi
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Salkhen demands separate Sarna code

Monday, 13 January 2020 | PNS | Ranchi

As the Union Govt prepares for 2021 census collecting data of people, which also include their religion, the demand for inclusion of separate Sarna code, a religion based on the concept of nature worship, followed by tribals in several Indian States including Jharkhand has gained momentum.

Former Member of Parliament and convener of Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan, Salkhan Murmu has written a letter to President Ramnath Kovind with a demand to include Sarna as separate religious code in 2021 census. Murmu in his argument had stated that tribals are basically nature worshipers as they worship Sun, Moon, Earth, Plants and Trees, rivers and mountains and even animals, which indicates that tribal culture and living style revolves around nature. Murmu the tribal leader has urged the Union Government to accord separate religious code for Sarna in 2021 census.

The former MP giving instance of Article 25 (1) of Constitution claims that Article 25 states that ‘all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health’ and in such condition tribals who are nature worshiper should be accorded separate religion code.

The demand for a separate Sarna religious code in the Census has been pending for a long time. Sarna followers are worshippers of nature. Jharkhand has 32 tribal groups, of which eight tribes are from Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG). These tribal groups are Hindus. However, few have converted to Christianity.

Under the Census 2001, there were six options under the religion column -- Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, and Sikh -- which were given 1-6 code numbers. People from other religious groups were asked to mention their religions but not to highlight the code numbers. Likewise, in 2011 Census, the same procedure was followed.

Murmu in his letter had stated that Jains and Buddhist having population less than tribals too have separate religious code, but the tribals who are numerically more than other communities don’t have separate religious code.

Murmu claims that by not assigning separate religious code for tribals, the centre and state government wants to puts tribals in Hindus, Muslim and Christian category.  It is believed that in 2011 Census, 42 lakh people from Jharkhand and about six crore people from across the country had mentioned their religion as Sarna, which was then included in others section.

Sources said that the demand for inclusion of separate Sarna religious code may gain momentum in coming days as many political parties including JVM and others too had promised to have separate religious code for tribals in their manifesto.

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