Train services hit as Kurmis stage stir in Bengal demanding Scheduled Tribe status

Published on Sep 21, 2022 06:19 PM IST

In view of the agitation, 53 trains were cancelled, 33 trains short-terminated, and several others were rescheduled, the Indian Railways said on Wednesday.

Agitators from the Kurmi community block railway tracks to press for their demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status, in West Bengal on Wedneday, Sept. 21, 2022. (PTI)
Agitators from the Kurmi community block railway tracks to press for their demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status, in West Bengal on Wedneday, Sept. 21, 2022. (PTI)
Written by Lingamgunta Nirmitha Rao | Edited by Sohini Goswami

A ‘Rail Roko’ protest launched by members of the Kurmi community on Tuesday in Purulia district of West Bengal continued for the second day over their demand for Scheduled Tribe status.

In view of the agitation, 53 trains were cancelled, 33 trains short-terminated, and several others were rescheduled, the Indian Railways said on Wednesday, adding services were affected in several parts of Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. The protest was mainly centered around Kastaur and Khemasuli stations in West Bengal as hundreds thronged the railway tracks seeking ST status.

According to reports, five separate groups from the Jungle Mahal region have collaborated to stage the agitation against the state and the Centre to include the Kurmali language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution and give the community the status of Scheduled Tribe.

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Ajit Prasad Mahat, a spokesperson of Adivasi Kurmi Samaj, said the passengers were already informed about "today's programme" of protest.

The 1931 Census did not include the Kurmis among the communities identified as tribes. They were again excluded in the 1950 list of Scheduled Tribes. The government of Jharkhand recommended in 2004 that the Kurmi tribe be included in the list of Scheduled Tribes, rather than in the Other Backward Classes list.

However, the Tribal Research Institute of the Government of India advised against this proposal, contending that they are a sub-caste of the Kunbi and different from tribal people.

The Government of India then refused to approve the Jharkhand government's recommendation.

Currently, they are categorised in the Other Backward Class list in Odisha, West Bengal, and Jharkhand.

(With agency inputs)

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