Former BJP MP Salkhan Murmu promised financial help for Sukhram Munda, the “sick and poor” grandson of revered tribal icon Birsa Munda, as Sukhram claimed nothing had changed for him even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to their native village Ulihatu in Jharkhand’s Khunti on November 15.
Jamshedpur-based Salkhan Murmu, who represented Odisha’s Mayurbhanj constituency in the Lok Sabha in 1998-1999, had in a media statement on Sunday informed that he had met Sukhram, the octogenarian grandson of Birsa Munda, at their ancestral village on Saturday.
Murmu is no longer associated with the BJP. Now he is the national president of Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan (Santhali word for tribal empowerment campaign). “I went to Ulihatu, the birthplace of Bhagwan Birsa Munda, on Saturday and met Sukhram Munda who is in his early 80s and his wife Lokhimani and talked with them about their conditions. Sukhram looked very sad and physically sick. I have a video of the conversation (in Mundari dialect) where Sukhram claims that nothing has changed for them after the Prime Minister’s visit on November 15 morning,” he said.
Murmu added: “The grandson claimed that he had not received any financial help from anywhere. He does not even have a pucca house and has to spend nearly Rs 2,000 every month on medicine for his treatment which he finds very difficult to bear because of his poor financial condition. Sukhram also claimed that Narendra Modi ji did not inquire about their problem. But while leaving the PM only asked about his age.”
Murmu informed that Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan had decided to give Rs 2,000 to Sukhram every month for his medical expenses. “We will also investigate if Sukhram Munda and his wife are getting government entitlements such as ration and pension in time. Soon our team will be visiting Ulihatu again,” said Murmu.
He, however, said that despite being weak and sick, the grandson of Birsa Munda expressed his support for a separate Sarna religion code.
“Sukhram Munda supported our fight for a separate Sarna religion code for tribals and blessed us for a victory in achieving that,” said Murmu.
On November 15, Narendra Modi became the first Prime Minister to visit the birthplace of the tribal leader. He met the family members and paid floral tributes to Birsa Munda on his birth anniversary. He was accompanied by Union tribal affairs minister Arjun Munda, Jharkhand governor C.P. Radhakrishnan and chief minister Hemant Soren during the visit.
Recognising the immense contributions of Birsa Munda, the Union cabinet on November 10, 2021, declared November 15 as Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas.