Tribal groups voice their demands through dance

August 9th, 2011 - 6:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 9 (IANS) Scores of people from different tribal groups gathered here on International Day of Indigenous People Tuesday to protest government apathy and put forward a charter of demands, including that they be given the status of adivasis.

The medium of their protest was, however, not slogan shouting - but cultural dance performances which showcased their rich heritage.

Nevazi Kalajiya, a tribal from Madhya Pradesh who came for the protest with a contingent of 90 people, said: “Among our primary demands is that we should be given the status of adivasis and not labelled as Hindus or non-Hindus.”

The group gathered at Jantar Mantar in central Delhi. Tribals from 10 states, including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Orissa, joined in.

Arjun Bhai Jivala Bhai Gamit, a tribal from Tapi, Gujarat said: “The enforcement of Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act (PESAA) is integral to our demands as it will ensure tribal self-autonomy”.

“We also demand recognition of Primitive Tribal Groups (PTG) and Most Vulnerable Tribes (MVTs),” he added.

Presenting their indigenous dance routines, the tribal groups also struck an attractive pose in their traditional costumes, complete with headgear made of peacock feathers and artificial flowers.

According to performer Karmi Behan, the idea was to send out the message that all tribals “stand united” in their demands and desire to preserve their culture.

Disappointment was, however, in store for the group that was hoping to meet K.C. Deo, the tribal affairs minister.

“We had sought an appointment with the tribal affairs minister and were asked to come to his residence at 8 a.m. today. However, he did not meet us. One of our representatives met the new Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan,” Pratindi Jena, a representative of Adivasi Janajati Adhikar Manch, told IANS.

Natarajan told the delegation that the government would look into the demands.

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