Thousands of tribals from Jharkhand and other parts of the country held a mega rally here on Sunday to press for their demand to include Sarna as a separate religion for indigenous people in the next census.
Donning their traditional attire, men and women, belonging to various tribal communities, held placards and banners and raised slogans for implementation of the Sarna code, threatening to boycott the 2024 Lok Sabha polls if the demand was not met before the general elections.
A separate Sarna code in the census is the key to a distinct identity for tribals as without it, they are classified as Hindus or Muslims or Christians.
Sarna followers are nature worshippers and they have been fighting for a separate religious identity for decades. Under the banner of Rashtriya Adivasi Samaj Sarna Dharm Raksha Abhi - yan (RASSDRA), members of several tribal bodies from 17 districts of Jharkhand and representatives of many such organisations from Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Assam took part in the ‘Maharally’. Sarna dharma religious leader Bandhan Tigga, who led the rally, said the tribal organisations chose Jharkhand for the programme as the state is the “epicentre of this tribal movement” in the country.
"Earlier, we had staged a rally in Delhi but the Centre did not pay heed to our demand,” he claimed. Speaking to PTI on the sidelines of the rally, Tigga said they would organise another mega rally in Delhi before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
“If the Centre does not include the Sarna code in the upcoming census, tribals of the country may not participate in the election process,” he said. More than 100 tribal people from Nepal also participated in the rally here.