Members of various tribal bodies took to the streets, blocked railway tracks and heavy vehicles across Jharkhand on Sunday, demanding the inclusion of the Sarna Code in the religion census of 2021.
Three tribal outfits – Central Sarna Committee, All India Tribal Development Council, and Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan — called for a rail and road blockade in Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Bihar on Sunday in a bid to mount pressure on the Centre for approving Jharkhand’s resolution for the Sarna/Adviwasi code.
The movement of trains was affected in several parts of Jharkhand as protestors blocked railway tracks and raised slogans supporting the Sarna Code and the tribal community. A large number of security personnel were deployed at bordering areas of the state to keep the situation under control and avert any mishap.
The three major tribal outfits also took out a torchlight procession in Ranchi on Saturday evening and announced Sunday’s rail and road blockade at Albert Ekka Chowk, the heart of the state capital.
On Sunday, Central Sarna Committee president Phoolchand Tirkey was part of the demonstrations at Silli Railway Station. The tribal outfit stopped several trains under the Muri section of South Eastern Railways.
Phoolchand said, “The process for Census will begin in April and tribal bodies across the country want the inclusion of Sarna Code in the Census this time. We will intensify our demonstrations if the government does not pay heed to us.”
“The Constitution under Article 25 has granted freedom to preach and practice the religion of one’s choice to every citizen of India, but the Centre is snatching this right granted to the tribal by the Constitution,” he added.
All India Tribal Development Council’s president Satyanarayan Lakra warned that the tribal protest will be larger than the ongoing farmer’s protest if the government continues to stick to its “dictatorial” attitude.
The Jharkhand Assembly passed a resolution for the inclusion of the Sarna Code in the Census and sent it to the Centre last year. In the special session of the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly, chief minister Hemant Soren had said that the Sarna Dharma Code is important for the tribal and he did not want any politics over it.