A tribal with a traditional weapon during the rally at the Morabadi grounds in Ranchi on Wednesday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, Feb. 12: Over 10,000 people belonging to the Sarna community today assembled at the Morabadi grounds in Ranchi to take a vow to protect their ancient religion and ancestral land.
Also, they demanded a special Sarna code in the census to protect their identity.
Tribals from different parts of Jharkhand, Nepal and other states took party in the rally organised under the aegis of Akhil Bharatiya Sarna Dharmik Evam Samajik Samiti.
They decided to fight against any attempt to convert Sarnas into any other religion.
“There have been instances where Sarna flags were found to carry the sign of a cross. Also, the traditional sari of Sarna women has been used to dress Mother Mary. Such incidents can mislead innocent Sarna believers. If their religion is gone, everything is gone,” said Ajay Tirkey, the president of Kendriya Sarna Samiti.
Addressing the rally in the state capital, senior Ranchi University professor Karma Oroan demanded a separate Sarna code to distinguish the people of the community from other religious groups.
“Over 50 lakh Sarans live in Jharkhand alone. A dedicated code will give Sarna believers an opportunity to record their religious identity, just like Hindus, Christians, Muslims among others,” he added.
Oraon said several non-tribal people were trying to exploit tribal women to grab Sarnas’ land.
“Tenancy acts forbid purchase of tribal land by non-tribals. But, often non-tribal men tie the knot with tribal women and use their wives’ names to acquire tribal land.”
“There should be a law prohibiting a tribal woman from purchasing tribal land in case she marries a non-tribal,” Oraon explained.
Hari Soy, the president of Sarna Prarthna Sabha, Khunti, echoed Oraon.
“Tribals get love and respect as long as they have land. Once they lose it, they lose their respect, their identity and religion. The time has come for a decisive war against religious conversion and land grabbing,’ said Soy.
He added that tribals were the real owners of the land and any attempt to cheat them would not be tolerated.
Before the start of the rally, member of the Sarna community offered prayer to their Gods — Dharmesh, Marangburu and Singhbonga.