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Kurmis warn of intensifying stir, asks Centre for ST status

KOLKATA: The Kurmi community, which forms a significant part of the population in Jungle Mahal, has warned the BJP of launching a stronger movement if the Centre resorts to dilly-dally tactics over its re-inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category.

The move assumes significance ahead of the Assembly polls in Bengal as the Kurmi votes, according to political analysts, are expected to play a major role in the outcome of the elections in 35 constituencies of the four Junglemahal districts- Purulia, Bankura, West Midnapore and Jhargram.

The Kurmi community had been registered under the Scheduled Tribe category till 1931. But, it was dropped from the list after Independence for "unknown reasons". The community was later included in the list of Other Backward Classes and in the recent past they have been demanding their re-inclusion in the ST category.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had met a delegation from the community during her Purulia visit on January 20, following that she had sent a written request to the Centre so that their demand is fulfilled.

"Our Chief Minister did what she promised. Now, we want to see if the BJP-run Centre approves the proposal and takes necessary steps in Parliament. We have already submitted separate deputation to four BJP MPs in Jungle Mahal – Dilip Ghosh (Medinipur), Jyotirmay Mahato (Purulia), Subhas Sarkar (Bankura) and Kunar Hembram (Jhargram), so that they can take up our demand with the Centre and introduce a Bill related to our re-inclusion," Ajit Prasad Mahato, Chief Advisor of the Adivasi Kurmi Samaj said.

According to Mahato, the Kurmis had played a major role in the victory of the BJP in Jungle Mahal in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. "If there is no action, then there will be no reaction," he asserted.

BJP had got 5 of the 6 Lok Sabha seats in the Jungle Mahal districts of Purulia, Jhargram, Bankura and West Midnapore. The Kurmis had shown their discontent with the saffron camp when its members blocked roads at many places in Junglemahal on Saturday, demanding the repeal of the 3 contentious farm laws. They carried out 'Chakka Jams' all over Jangalmahal in protest of the farm laws.

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