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Crusader fights Raj demons

The stigma of his past might not haunt him but Laxmibhai Kalidas Patani continues to struggle to undo the injustice of history.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2006 03:26 IST

The stigma of his past might not haunt him but Laxmibhai Kalidas Patani continues to struggle to undo the injustice of history.

“We are not thieves, our ancestors were,” he says.

Patani is a member of the Bhagri community, a tribe labeled “criminal” by the British in 1871 through the Criminal Tribes Act. He is also a member of the newly formed National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Tribes — reconstituted by the Centre to look into the socio-economic development of the tribes.

The draconian British law might have repealed in 1952 but, Patani points out, there are around 140 tribes, like the Sansi and Bawarias, who are even today exploited by the police and forced into crime.

“We have received complaints from the Sansi and Bawaria tribals that the police force them into theft. We plan to hold a conference on the issue soon,” he said.

Chairman of the commission Balkrishna Sidram Renke says they would recommend that the tribals, get “territorial rights”.