Paharia youths at the dharna in front of the Santhal Pargana commissioner’s office on Monday. Telegraph picture
Dumka, March 12: The British exploited their skills in warfare by making them hill rangers but in present-day Jharkhand, they have only been promised an exclusive Paharia battalion.
A frustrated group of around 60 educated Paharia youths has now virtually dared the state that if its promises continue to ring hollow, they would rather join the CPI(Maoist). Ironically, the Arjun Munda government had promised the battalion to fight the rebels.
The group of Paharia youths including women that has been on a three-day dharna outside the office of Santhal Pargana commissioner Ashok Kumar Mishra since yesterday has submitted a five-point charter of demands, addressed to governor Syed Ahmed.
Their main demands were direct appointment of educated youths to third and fourth grade government jobs, the promised Paharia battalion, a primitive tribe authority, BPL status for primitive tribe families and appointment of eligible youths as para-teachers in special residential schools for the community’s children.
Manu Paharia, a political science postgraduate student of Sido-Kanhu Murmu University, today told The Telegraph: “We are left with no option but to join the CPI(Maoist) for livelihood, as the state has failed to fulfil its promises of direct appointment of educated Paharias.”
The pledge of a separate Paharia battalion in the state’s armed forces was even approved by Arjun Munda’s cabinet during a meeting here in 2011.
In a bid to feed off the disaffection among the Paharias, the Maoists are known to be on the lookout to hire the community’s youths in its armed squads.
Police records also suggest that a section of Paharias have either already joined the rebels or are sympathisers, largely the result of governmental neglect coupled with prevailing corruption in implementation of social security schemes.
Santosh Kunwar of Gando, the erstwhile capital of the only Paharia kingdom, echoed the fears of Manu, a native of Siltha village in Maoist-hit Ramgarh block of Dumka.
“I have decided not to get married, for it would mean more troubles for me as I am unemployed,” said Kunwar, who graduated from SP College in 2005.
A group of Paharia youths have undergone vocational training at Xavier Institute of Social Services in Ranchi and Indo-Danish Tool Room in Jamshedpur. But they, too, are yet to be absorbed by the industry.
“The benefits meant for tribals are largely availed of by the Santhal community, as they have better socio-economic conditions than the Paharias, who are the original inhabitants of Santhal Pargana. We are in dire need of special attention from the state,” argued Basant Singh Paharia, the vice-president of the Jharkhand Adim Janjati Sikshit Sangh, which organised the dharna.