Hemant writes to Modi, seeks Sarna code for tribals

  • | Thursday | 28th September, 2023

RANCHI: Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, who is facing a fifth summons for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a land scam case in Ranchi, stoked tribal sentiments amid the ongoing countrywide debate over caste census by reiterating the demand for a separate census code for the tribal communities which follow Sarna religious faith.Soren late Tuesday evening wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that a separate census code for Sarna believers would give a sense of assurance to more than 12 crore tribal people of the country. Sorens letter was made public by his office on Wednesday morning.In his three-page letter, Soren said the tribal communities have been leading movements for several decades now for the inclusion of Sarna, a faith with its roots in nature worship, in the national census as a separate religion. The inclusion of Sarna as a religion would preserve and protect the distinct identities of separate tribal communities and would help preserve their culture, heritage and dwindling population, he claimed.Soren claimed in the letter that the population of tribal communities in the state was roughly 1 crore and their population had declined from 38% to 26%. Soren also claimed that the Sarna religious column featured in the first census carried out in 1951 but was later removed.The Jharkhand government, which is being governed by the triad of JMM, Congress and the RJD, had convened a special session in November 2020 and tabled a resolution seeking separate religious code for Sarna faith from the Centre ahead of its planned national census in 2021. The resolution, which was passed unanimously in the assembly, is still pending with the Centre, Soren highlighted in the letter.Stating that he was proud of his tribal lineage, Soren stressed that inclusion of Sarna in the census was the key to determining the exact population of the tribal communities. "Based on the population, we will be able to preserve and promote our language, culture and history," he claimed.The BJPs state unit on Wednesday retorted to Sorens claims about the dip in population of tribal communities. "While the CM is claiming that there are 1 core tribals in Jharkhand which has an estimated population of 3.5 crore, how can the population dip? The CM must also come clean whether he is referring to the tribal people who also converted to Christianity because the numbers given by him are misleading," BJPs state spokesperson Pradeep Sinha told TOI.Asked about the partys official stand on Sarna code, Sinha said: "The BJP believes that the practitioners of Sarna faith are the followers of Sanatan Dharma, which also stresses on nature worship. So, in effect, they are a part of the Hindu community and do not need a separate religious code per se."

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