Teli show of strength at Gumla

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By RUDRA BISWAS in Ranchi
  • Published 21.12.04
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Ranchi, Dec. 20: Thousands from the Teli caste from all over the state will gather at Gumla tomorrow in a show of strength and lend support to the state government?s recommendation for tribal status to them and Kurmis.

Caste leaders said the congregation is an answer to the December 17 tribal backlash that had paralysed the state capital after tribal organisations enforced a chakka jaam (road blockade) against the state government?s decision.

With Assembly poll in the state in sight, the BJP has decided to lend its full support to the congregation as the caste is a force to reckon with in Ranchi, Gumla and Lohardaga districts.

While the congregation would be inaugurated by BJP state president Raghubar Das, other party stalwarts like Dukha Bhagat and Ramtahal Choudhary would be present at Gumla tomorrow.

However, Teli Samaj president Hira Sahu told The Telegraph that the congregation would be a ?peaceful one? and would take the shape of a cultural mela displaying the Teli caste heritage and similarities of the tribal and Teli cultures.

?We are not in favour of taking the law into our hands,? Sahu said.

On November 23, the state Cabinet decided to recommend inclusion of Telis and Kurmis in the Scheduled Tribes list. Following the decision, tribal leaders of the Adivasi Chhatra Sangh, along with other organisations, had enforced a state-wide road blockade on December 17 against the state government's decision.

?Contrary to what the tribal leaders are saying, we have been inhabiting the hilly terrains of Jharkhand since 1265 or even before. We have official records granting us land rights by Razia Sultan. On the other hand, the other tribes, Oraons and Mundas have a history of not more than 400 years,? the Teli Samaj state president said.

Sahu said the Telis were more backward and under-privileged than the tribes and that the recommendation was only doing justice to them.

?Records reveal that not a single Teli has ever been made an MLA or MP. Even in the state councils, wherever they are in existence, Telis have never been represented. On the other hand, tribals are adequately represented in the Assembly as well as in the Parliament. There are cases of tribal zamindars as well,? he said.

He pointed out that they observe the same festivals and follow the same rites and customs as is prevalent amongst the tribes.