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Tribal heads prefer self-rule Governor leads meet

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  • Published 21.06.12

Ranchi, June 20: Tribal heads from across the state congregated on the premises of Raj Bhavan on Wednesday to take part in a first-of-its-kind daylong seminar on traditional self-governance that was organised at the behest of the governor.

The meet was aimed at gathering the tribals’ views on traditional self-governance and panchayat system, scheduled areas and government-sponsored schemes.

More than 400 Mankis, Mundas, Parha Rajas, Sohors, Dhoklos, Manjhis and Parganaits — the tribal heads as they are called in traditional system at village councils, clusters and community levels — were present. They thanked Governor Syed Ahmed for convening the meet and presented him shawls, headgears, bow and arrows and even a mandar besides flowers.

The seminar began with messages from chief minister Arjun Munda and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, read out in absentia, that expressed hope that the discussions would focus on integrated development of the region.

The governor, during his address, said that freedom was not complete unless all sections of the society enjoyed its benefits. “In case there is any loophole, suggestions are welcome so that an action plan can be drawn accordingly. This is just the beginning and something better will surely emerge in due course,” Ahmed, who had toured tribal belts, attended meets of traditional tribal bodies and opened a cell at Raj Bhavan for redressal of their grievances, added.

Jharkhand was the last state to hold the mandatory panchayat elections despite enactment of Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, as tribal communities were opposed to it. They were happy with the self-governance system in vogue since ages and felt that the new system would clash with it. In fact, many speakers like Antu Hemrom, Pero Oraon, Ram Chandra Murmu and Jadu Gopal Singh Munda, who represented various tribal communities, spoke about how the British had accepted their traditional self-rule system and granted them “records of rights”.

The present panchayat system has clashed with their rights and it should be resolved, they complained. They also lamented that their children could not pursue education in their respective mother tongues.

Pradeep Balmuchu, the newly elected Rajya Sabha member, opined that a committee should be formed for studying the issues and offer advice on how to resolve them.

Speaker C.P. Singh wondered why the benefits of development measures did not percolate down to villagers even though all chief ministers and welfare ministers appointed since the state was formed in 2000 were tribals themselves.