Adivasi-Lambada feud worries KCR government

 Hyderabad, Dec 17: The large scale violence that rocked tribal areas Adilabad and Komram Bheem Asifabad districts on Friday is sending worrying signals to the authorities in Telangana.

The clashes between Gond Adivasis and the Banjara Lambadas came amid simmering tension between the two groups in some parts of the state over last few days.

The two communities were on war path ever since Adivasis started demanding that Lambadas be removed from the list of Scheduled Tribes (STs). Adivasis claim that most of the jobs and education opportunities reserved for them are being bagged by Lambadas.

Adivasis claim that Lambadas were added to the ST category in 1976 due to political compulsion.

On the other hand, Lambadas have been opposing any attempt to remove them from STs. They argue that they deserve the quota for socio-economic uplift.

About one lakh Banjara Lambadas came out on streets in Hyderabad to defend their right to reservation as a scheduled tribe.

Political observers say while petty incidents triggered violence in Jayashankar Bhupalapally, Adilabad and Asifabad districts, the real cause was the differences between the two groups over reservation.

In Adilabad and Asifabad districts, Gonds went on rampage after desecration of the statue of their leader Komram Bheem in Betalaguda in Narnoor mandal of Adilabad district.

Adivasis took out a protest rally at Hasnapur, which turned violent. Two persons were killed during the rally but the police claimed that they died in a road accident. Protestors attacked houses, shops, business establishments and vehicles and set afire some of them.

Soon the violence spread to surrounding mandals with two groups clashing in the agency areas. Police had to use teargas shells to disperse clashing groups. Seven policemen were among those injured in the stone pelting by the mobs.

Police had to clamp prohibitory orders in agency areas and rush additional forces to control the violence.

On Saturday, many districts of Telangana witnessed protests and counter protests by Adivasis and Lambadas

The violence in Adilabad came a day after Adivasis resorted to violence in Jayashankar Bhupalpally district against the inclusion of Lambadas in the Medaram Temple Trust Board, which organises Medaram Jatra.

Adivasis alleged that Lambadas had no respect for their traditions and customs and were only trying to make money in the name of the temple.

The two communities were also engaged in bitter tussle in some other districts.

In Adilabad and surrounding districts, Adivasis have a grouse against Lambadas. They feel that Lambadas have been cornering all benefits meant for STs under the reservation.

Lambadas are not in ST list in neighboring Maharashtra. They migrated to Adilabad and other pockets during last few decades to enjoy the benefits of reservation. Adivasis have the grievance that they did not get the opportunity to achieve socio-economic development.

The STs in Telangana currently enjoy 6 percent reservation. The state legislature early this year passed a bill to increase the quota for STs to 10.

As this hike along with an increase of 8 percent quota for Muslims took the overall reservation in the state beyond 50 percent, the upper permissible limit as per a Supreme Court order, the state legislature passed a bill and sent into the Centre to include it in 9th scheduled of the constitution.

Though the legislation is yet to be included in the 9th schedule, the Adivasis have the apprehension that like in the past majority of the benefits of enhanced quota will be taken away by Lambadas.

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