Demand for tribal state surfaced in violence in Rajasthan, say police
The report prepared after violence in Dungarpur and Udaipur districts said people from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are part of the campaign.
Attempts to radicalise tribal youths in south Rajasthan started two years ago and Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) leaders have added fuel to the attempts, said a Rajasthan Police intelligence report seen by HT.
The report prepared after violence in Dungarpur and Udaipur districts said people from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are part of the campaign. The intelligence report named several people, including BTP MLAs - all of whom denied the charges.
Hundreds of tribal youths resorted to violence last week, blocking Udaipur-Ahmedabad national highway, pelting police with stones, damaging property and torching vehicles with the demand for recruitment to vacant posts of teachers in the Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) area.
The intel report pegged the loss at Rs 110 crore.
“Name of Tarachand Bhagora, former Congress MP from Dungarpur-Banswara , BTP MLAs Ramprasad Dindor and Rajkumar Roat, and other groups associated with the demands of creating a separate state for the tribals has surfaced in the violence. It has been found that it was a pre-planned activity in which youngsters from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh also participated. They could be identified from their language,” the report said.
The report sent to chief minister Ashok Gehlot recommended criminal cases against all these people, and said the licence of Vangad Mazdoor Kisan Sangathan, a non-profit, should be cancelled.
The two-page report underlined the people in the Udaipur division - comprising Udaipur, Banswara, Dungarpur, Pratapgarh and Chittorgarh districts - have been demanding a separate ‘Bhil Pradesh’ for many years. They want Mangarh Dham as its capital.
“Just like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, some groups are giving rise to extremism and their aim is to create a Bhil Autonomous Council in every village. Radicals of Jharkhand organised an event in Ranchi on September 19 last year in which BTP MLA Dindor was the chief guest. Tribal people from south Rajasthan also went to Jharkhand during the Assembly election,” the intelligence report said.
The tribal groups want Bhil Pradesh to be carved out from tribal-dominated areas of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
The report also mentioned incidents of desecration in the area in 2018. “On August 27, 2018, in Sajjangarh police station area of Banswara one idol of Ganesh was damaged and an idol of Hanuman was stolen. On August 30, 2018, at least 30 to 40 people forcefully removed the flag from the Sonar Mata temple in Salumbar region. In this way, an attempt has been made to create enmity between tribal and non-tribal people,” the report said.
BTP MLA Ramprasad Dindor said he has never been to Jharkhand all his life. “We have evidence to prove that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are behind last week’s violence,” he said.
“Why don’t these political parties understand that our region has a different culture, different dialect, etc? Why is the government imposing civil laws while there are different provisions for tribal people?” Dindor asked.
Refuting allegations against himself, former Congress MP Bhagora said, “The BTP has made some message groups through which they can call mob of youngsters in short time.” He agreed that people from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh participated in the violence.
BTP MLA Rajkumar Roat said that the party was a soft target because its stature was growing in the area. “Stone pelting, communal incidents happen in other parts of state too but why are they not called Naxals or radicals there? Where was the government for the last 18 days when the candidates were protesting silently? Neither we provoked the youngsters and nor do we support violence but the demands of candidates were unheard,” said Roat.
Congress Working Committee (CWC) member Raghuvir Singh Meena said that the state government had created a committee in the past to look after the recruitment issues. “However, we had to take a step back due to Covid-19. The Congress party is very serious about the issues of the tribals,” he added.
Meena said the role of BTP in this violence is under scanner. “Nobody can deny that unwanted people from Chhattisgarh joined them. BTP presents unrealistic dreams in front of youngsters and try to brainwash their minds in the name of their rights,” he alleged.
Former home minister and leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria said that when he was home minister, there were many meetings called by the BTP in the Kherwara and Rishabhdeo blocks in which people from Jharkhand were present. “Their activities are suspicious and I have written to the chief minister about it a few days back,” he said.