The State BJP unit on Monday reacted strongly over JMM executive president cum Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s remark, where he had stated that tribals were never Hindus. The State BJP termed Soren’s remark as ‘language of the Vatican’. Chief Minister Soren speaking at the India Conference at Harvard 2021, organised by students of Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School on Saturday had said that tribals were never Hindus, nor are they Hindus now.
The Chief Minister further said that tribals are nature worshipers and have a separate set of customs and practices and this is the reason why they are classified as tribals and indigenous people. Reacting over Chief Minister’s remark, State BJP spokesperson Pratul Shahdeo said, “The Chief Minister by raising contentious issue at international platform has given tools to Indian baiters. India is a democratic country; such contentious issue can be raised in Parliament and Judiciary.”
However, Congress has distanced itself from the remark. The CM made the remark demanding a separate column for tribals in 2021 census. The Soren government in November last year had passed a resolution demanding separate Sarna/Adivasi religious column for tribal. The Jharkhand government after passing the resolution unanimously sent it to Centre for final nod. However, the Centre is yet to take any decision on the issue.
It may be noted that this is the second time within a week that the CM has raised the Sarna/Adivasi religious code issue. Few days back, he had also raised the issue at NITI Ayog where had demanded separate religious column for tribals.
Tribal leaders across the state had been demanding the implementation of the Sarna Code in census surveys, which would allow the tribals to be identified as followers of the Sarna faith during the census of 2021 which is round the corners, tribal outfits were exerting pressure on the government to bring the legislation.
Tribal leaders alleged that there was a separate Sarna Code from 1871 to 1951, but it was removed in 1961 under a conspiracy. They also claim that in 2011 the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes had recommended to the Centre to add Sarna code in the Census, but was not implemented.
As per the 2011 Census, tribals make up nearly 26 per cent of the 32.4 million population of Jharkhand. According to tribal rights activists, a majority of the tribal people in the State who are not Christians opted for the “Others” column while marking their religious identity in the 2011 Census.