A large number of Sikhs belonging to sikligars, bazigars, vanjaras, sapere and rangretta communities on Saturday staged a protest in Delhi demanding special status from the Centre.
On July 2, 2008, the Bal Krishan Renke commission recommended putting these communities in de-notified nomadic tribes (DNT) giving them special facilties.
Former MP from Yavatmal in Maharashtra Hari Bhau Rathore and Sant Rama Rao led these tribes.
The communities are expected to launch a long-drawn programme in October, when they would converge in the national capital in big numbers from different states. Union minister Oscar Fernandes came to meet the protesters and assured all support from the government.
The collective number of these communities is about 15 crore and they are spread in the states of Punjab, Maharashtra, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh and are associated with the evolution of Sikh religion.
These communities were active during the days of Banda Bahadur, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Guru Gobind Singh. As per a report released by the National Commission for Minorities, these Sikhs are very poor and don't have access to education.
During different Sikh wars, these communities acted as brave soldiers and were also involved in making arms and ammunition. "Over the period of time, though these communities have faded and lost relevance, we would reach out to them and give them all support," said Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management committee (DSGMC) president Manjit Singh GK, who joined them in the protest. GK said the DSGMC would carry out a survey, identify these Sikhs spread all over the country and try to bring them into the mainstream.
Working president of vimukt and khumanto jatis (nomadic tribes) Jagir Singh said different governments had been making promises from time to time but so far nothing tangible had come out. "We are demanding that recommendations of the Renke commission be implemented," added Jagir Singh.
Meanwhile, GK announced that whenever people belonging to nomadic tribes would come to Delhi, the DSGMC would support them with boarding and lodging. He added that Sikhs had high respect for all these communities as these tribes closely worked with the Sikh guru.