A tinderbox situation

THE HANS INDIA |   Dec 28,2017 , 04:07 AM IST

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The sooner the TRS government realises it is faced with an explosive situation, the better it is for the new state which has been peaceful since its formation – conducive to rapid progress and all-round prosperity. Adivasis in Telangana who have been seething, being at the receiving end of development thrust of the State for long, allegedly because of Lambadas, are upping the ante on the State to denotify the latter from the ST list.

As a result, bloody clashes are erupting between the two groups.A short-sighted decision to include Lambadas in the ST list in the Andhra Pradesh State only in 1976, while other States ignored their demand, led to large-scale migration of the tribe to the State, who settled down in the plains and have been in a better position to corner various government schemes and benefits, to the utter resentment of Adivasis. Lambadas are considered SCs in Karnataka, BCs in Maharashtra and OCs in Rajasthan. The tribe soon flourished in T region, overshadowing other tribes.

Left far behind, the latter have all along been restive these years. But, of late, their simmering snowballed into a fierce fight targeting the Lambadas and their properties. This month, Utnoor in Adilabad district witnessed clashes between Lambadas and Adivasis, forcing even the DGP to rush to the area. There was yet another flare-up, this time in Mancherial district which was part of erstwhile Adilabad district on Tuesday, where an Adivasi youth was beaten up by unknown persons. Adivasis suspecting the culprits to be Lambadas went on the rampage in Kothapet Lambada Thanda where they ransacked houses, set fire to vehicles and attacked shops.

Barring these two incidents, there were no instances of major acts of violence. Adivasis harbour hard feelings that they are being meted out a raw deal. Successive governments have ignored the plight of resident Adivasis in the Fifth Scheduled Area – Gonds, Koyas, Thotis, Kollams, Chenchus and Konda Reddys – with the result that it is becoming a law and order issue of worrying proportions. Inured to pleas of injustice in jobs and employment by Adivasis, the Telangana government has, however, initiated an inquiry into officials transferring land to non-local tribals (Lambadas) as it ran in conflict with the provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

The inquiry seems to be slowing down as the government apparently fears a political backlash from Lambadas who own lands in Scheduled Areas in Adilabad, Warangal, Khammam and Mahbubnagar districts. According to the Act, for Lambadas to become eligible for land rights, they should be residents of the Agency Area for more than 7 years.

Any further dithering by the government to address the problem will result in it spinning out of control. Keeping aside electoral considerations, the government should sincerely try to find a lasting solution and restore a spirit of camaraderie between the two warring groups. It should constitute a commission to study to what extent the Lambadas had affected the chances of Adivasis, and suggest ways to remedy the situation.



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