Millennium Post

Govt writes to Centre, urges to commission study for inclusion of Kurmi community in state list of ST

Kolkata: The Mamata Banerejee government has written to the Centre to commission a study by the Anthropological Survey of India (ASI) for inclusion of Kurmi community in the state list of scheduled tribes.

The state had to write to the Centre to undertake the study after it did not accept the previous recommendations of the state in this regard.

Confusion is being created over the second letter, which is a sincere attempt by the state government for inclusion of the Kurmis in the scheduled tribe list, by some people with vested interest.

The Mamata Banerjee government's cabinet had recommended inclusion of the people from Kurmi community in the state list of scheduled tribes.

There are around 20 lakh people from the community spread in 14 districts of the state including Purulia, Bankura, Murshidabad, Malda, North and South Dinajpur.

This comes when the state government has ensured issuance of caste certificates against a document of any member of a family and more than 21.40 lakh caste certificates have been issued in the past two and a half months through the biggest social outreach programme Duare Sarkar.

In recent times the state government wrote two letters to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. In the first letter (STDD-01/21) dated January 20, the state Tribal Development Department wrote to Secretary of Ministry Affairs Deepak Khandekar stating that "many of the traits of Kurmi Community are akin to Scheduled Tribals of West Bengal, which merit their inclusion as Scheduled Tribe of West Bengal...Their beliefs and social customs resemble the tribal ethos. Like Tribals they celebrate "Karam Festival", "Badhna Festival" and "Sarhul Puja" which are also prominent festivals of the Tribals.

Their marriage customs, rules of succession and inheritance are also like that of the tribals...The Kurmis have a distinct language "Kurmali" and is recognised as an official language of West Bengal since 2018."

"The proposal is now resubmitted with a request for review and consideration for inclusion of the Kurmi community in schedule tribe list of West Bengal," the letter reads.

According to the sources, the state's recommendation was not accepted and henceforth the state Tribal Development department wrote the second letter on February 6 stating that "a study by the ASI be commissioned to recommend identification, classification on etymological bases the constituent clans that make up the "Kurmi Community" residing in the 14 districts and the criteria for inclusion in the state list of scheduled tribes...This proposal is therefore being resubmitted in continuation to the aforesaid department memo number STDD-01/21 dated January 20 for a more disaggregated and informed classification of the aforesaid Kurmi Community under the auspices of the ASI under the Government of India for our consideration and inclusion thereafter, in the scheduled tribe list of the state of West Bengal".

The state government has also provided the ethnographic study conducted by the state government's Cultural Research Institute on Kurmi community to the Centre as a reference. Ajit Prasad Mahato, Chief Advisor of the Adivasi Kurmi Samaj, said: "We will be holding a state level meeting at Boro in Purulia on February 15 for evaluation of the present situation with the second letter given by the state government."

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