On Wednesday, the Jharkhand State Assembly unilaterally passed a resolution seeking separate religious status for the Sarna community in the Census of 2021.
While speaking on the development, Chief Minister Hemant Soren stated that the resolution was passed during a special one-day session of the Jharkhand Legislative assembly. He informed that the resolution will be sent to the Union government for approval. The BJP has meanwhile proposed removal of the oblique in ‘tribal/Sarna’ from the resolution. The amendment was accepted by the Chief Minister and the resolution was passed, following the support of all parties.
The Principal Secretary, in a letter to Hemant Soren, has argued that the tribal population in the state had declined from 38.3% to 26.02% between 1931 and 2011. The letter stated that since many tribals work in different States, their data remains missing in the Census. It was therefore proposed a separate religious code to ‘ensure’ that they are counted in the population. It was also highlighted how declining numbers of the Adivasis affects constitutional rights provided to them under the 5th Schedule of the constitution.
Advisasis converting to Christianity to avail dual benefits
Reportedly, this had been a long-standing demand of several tribal groups in Jharkhand. The BJP government had earlier announced in February 2019 that it would recommend the inclusion of Sarna in a distinct religious category. The Sarna community worships the nature and their Holy grail os ‘Jal, Jungle, Zameen (water, forests and land). The followers of Sarna worship the hills and the trees. While most of the 32 distinct tribal groups in Jharkhand identify themselves as Hindus, some have converted to Christianity. It is pertinent to remember that the State has about 4% Christian population.
It is said that several people from the Sarna community had converted to Christianity to avail dual benefits of religious minority and that provided to the Scheduled Tribes (STs). The Sarna community, who have originally been loyal to Hinduism, had demanded the benefits must be limited to those who have not converted to Christianity.