Tribal groups of Jharkhand continue to pile heat on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a formal announcement on the separate Sarna religious code for tribals ahead of his visit to Khunti to launch Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra on November 15.
On Saturday, two tribal leaders of the state threatened self-immolation on the evening of November 15 if Modi did not make any announcement on the Sarna religious code.
“Kanhu Ram Tuddu, a native of Sonua block in West Singhbhum district, and Chandra Mohan Mardi from Peterwar block in Bokaro district have threatened of self-immolation at 4pm on November 15 if the Prime Minister fails to make any concrete announcement on the Sarna dharma code,” said former BJP MP from Mayurbhanj (in Odisha) and Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan national president Salkhan Murmu in Jamshedpur.
Mardi said: “So far the Prime Minister has only spoken about his Mann ki Baat but has not listened to the tribals mann ki baat. However, he is the first Prime Minister to be visiting Ulihatu, the birthplace of tribal icon Birsa Munda, on November 15 (the birth anniversary of Birsa). We hope he would heed the longstanding tribal demand and make an announcement on a separate Sarna religion code in the morning. If he fails, I will immolate myself at Birsa Chowk in Bokaro at 4pm.”
Tuddu said he would also immolate himself at 4pm in Ulihatu if Modi failed to make any announcement on the Sarna code.
The tribals in Jharkhand, a majority of whom are Sarna followers and nature worshipers, have been fighting for a separate religious identity in India for decades.
Tribals argue that a Sarna code in census surveys would allow them to be identified as followers of the Sarna faith. Tribal outfits claimed that with the Centre dropping the “Others” option from the religion column for the next census, Sarna adherents would be forced to either skip the column or declare themselves members of one of the six specified religions — Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh.