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Tribal community lauds JMM-led Soren Government in Jharkhand for the new Sarna Code

Tribal community lauds JMM-led Soren Government in Jharkhand for the new Sarna Code

Tribal people celebrate the Jharkhand assembly's resolution to let them identify their religion as 'Sarna' in Ranchi on 11 November | Photo: ANI

Adivasi- Tribal population in the state welcomes the new Sarna Code passed by Jharkhand Mukti Morcha government under Hemant Soren. On Wednesday in a special session convened by Jharkhand government 'Sarna Code' has passed and a letter was sent to center in order to recognize Sarna religion. Government has also decided to include 'Sarna' as a separate code in 2021 census.

For several years' protests demanding a separate non-Hindu identity have been held by various tribal groups in Jharkhand. The legislative assembly in the state has now passed a resolution that demands to have a new substitute or identity for tribal population in the place of Hinduism.

Scheduled Tribes in Jharkhand is 70,87,068 constituting 26.3% of total population of the state. Among them 91.7% resides in villages.The Sarna Adivasi Dharma code has been unanimously passed by Hemant led government on November 11 this year.

One of the major demands put forward by the proposal is to conduct census in 2021, where tribes should be given a separate column of religion, that is Sarna religion code. In the coming winter session of parliament Jharkhand Government will send the proposal to central government.

Meanwhile the support over the new bill landed in discrepancy among tribal leaders regarding the name in different religion codes. Some of the leaders have agreed upon 'Sarna Code' and others 'Adivasi Code'.

What is the concept of 'Sarna'?

Sarna believers pray to nature. The followers of Sarna have faith in 'Jal, Jungle, Zameen'. They worship trees, hills and will protect the forest areas. Jharkhand has around 8 vulnerable tribal groups and 32 tribal groups. Many of them converted to Christianity and other religion so in order to save their religious identity tribe communities are demanding a separate code.

According to Sarna belief, the benefits of the code will not be given to converted population. The letter by Principal secretary to Chief Minister states that tribal population in Jharkhand is shrinking. This will affect the constitutional rights of tribes under 5th schedule of constitution.

While speaking with Madhyamam Elina Horo, the Chairperson of Adivasi Women's Network, Women and Gender Resource center said that "Sarna religion code is something which is people demanding for long time. Even the earlier government had worked for the code because of looking in to people's demand. We really welcome the new bill but still there are some clarity needed like how this is going to represent the Adivasis. Debate is still going on the state on why does the name 'Sarna' has chosen because it is religious place. So, opinions are coming like why the government has not use 'Adivasi code' instead of Sarna?"

"Nature worshipers will also be a part of new bill. But like other mainstream religion we need to look upon how Sarna Code will have an impact on women and personal laws. The code will definitely have some impacts. In depth analysis of the code need to be done. She further adds.

During the course of time, MLAs from BJP also supported and showed solidarity to the new bill as majority of them belongs to tribal society. There was no internal pressure from the state against the passing of the bill.

However, earlier this year RSS chief Mohan Bhagawat said that a comprehensive awareness campaign would be launched to ensure tribal population to write themselves as Hindus in census column. In fact BJP and RSS have not taken an official stand on the code.

A senior functionary in RSS called it as "a move to divide Hindus and reduce their overall population". Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram an affiliate of RashtriyaSwayamSevak Sangh, an organization working for tribes said to be started a campaign for tribals in order to make them understand how they are integral part of Hindu religion.

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TAGS:JMMShibu SorenSarna CodeJharkhand
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