Kurmi Community to Resume Rail Blockade Protest from September 20; Linked to Pandit Nehru
The Kurmi (Kudmi) community, known for their persistent protests, is gearing up to once again stage a rail blockade protest starting from September 20th. Haramohan Mahato, the central spokesperson for the Kurmi community, acknowledges that such protests inconvenience travelers but insists they have no alternative. He emphasizes the need for written assurances as they are determined not to be swayed by empty promises.
Demand for Scheduled Tribe Status:
The Kurmi community is resuming their rail blockade protest from September 20th in their ongoing quest to obtain Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. This marks their third rail blockade protest, following previous demonstrations on September 20, 2022, and April 5, 2023. The question arises: What is the connection between the Kurmi community and the railways?
No Yielding to Pressure This Time, Says Haramohan Mahato:
Haramohan Mahato, the central spokesperson for the Adivasi Kurmi community, explains that their demand is closely linked to the central government. He recalls how in 2004, when Arjun Munda served as the Chief Minister of the state, he had proposed granting Adivasi status to the Kurmi community. Now, as the Minister of Tribal Affairs at the central level, he is requesting reports from various states via the Tribal Research Institute (TRI).
Mahato alleges that the central government is using the pretext of these reports to avoid addressing their demands. He asserts that this time, they won’t be swayed by false promises and are determined to secure written assurances.
A Decades-Long Struggle:
Haramohan Mahato further emphasizes that they are aware that economic blockades affect railway travelers, but they have no other recourse. They have been engaged in this struggle for the past 73 years.
Previous Attempts to Gain Recognition:
During the previous rail blockade protests, the Kurmi community also presented their demands to President Draupadi Murmu when she visited Ranchi on May 24-25. She promised to forward their concerns to the ministry. Additionally, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, a Member of Parliament from West Bengal, raised the issue multiple times in the Lok Sabha. However, every attempt to raise the matter at the state government level was met with resistance.
Protests and Advocacy:
The Kurmi community has actively demonstrated in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar and presented their concerns to former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. Notably, during Raghuvir Das’s tenure as Chief Minister of Jharkhand, a memorandum signed by 42 legislators, including Chief Minister Hemant Soren, was submitted, urging reconsideration.
Pandit Nehru’s Assurances:
Haramohan Mahato recalls that until 1913, Kurmis were classified as Primitive Tribes (Adivasi) alongside Mundas, Mundaris, Santhals, and others. However, during the presentation of the tribal list in the Lok Sabha on September 6, 1950, Kurmis were excluded. At that time, 15 Lok Sabha members voiced their opposition.
Then-Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru acknowledged the mistake and promised it would be rectified. Subsequently, when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Home Minister Buta Singh visited Ranchi, they were reminded of this issue.
The Kurmi community’s struggle for Scheduled Tribe status has continued for decades, marked by recurring rail blockade protests. As they prepare for their latest demonstration, they seek a concrete commitment from the central government, emphasizing that this time, they won’t be swayed by mere promises.