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Women belonging to nomadic, semi-nomadic tribes lack documents, vow to oppose NRC

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Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

BHOPAL: Women belonging to nomadic, semi-nomadic and 'de-notified' tribes spoke at length about their struggle, the fight for dignity in the society and said that they oppose exercises like NRC.

Many of them said that they are landless and have few documents, as they work at one place for a few months and then move ahead to the next place. They said that some of them do have documents and had to pay (bribe) to get the identity papers but names don't tally and there are errors including spelling mistakes.

"The biggest irony is that while people discriminate with us because we belong to particular tribes, we don't even have a caste certificate to prove that we belong to these sections. The women said that mostly children were born within the confines of the house and hence there are no birth certificates", said Rinku, a tribal woman.

Rohini, who hails from Morena, said, "In the past, the British labelled us a criminals and sent us to settlement camps that were kind of open jails. Our ancestors were forced to work under extreme conditions and for long hours. Now that we are free, should our own government now do the same and send us to detention camps?", she asked. "Government says it wants to target poverty, but it targets poor".

Another woman, who belongs to Dafali caste, Bano, said that the poor including the tribals and weaker sections are being victimized and constantly kept on the sidelines of the society. The women belonging to Pardhi community, said that they were seen with suspicion, targeted and falsely accused of petty crimes and over the years they have now learnt to speak up for their rights and lodge complaints.

Expressing solidarity with the protesters against NRC, CAA and NPR, the tribal women said that such laws affect mostly the poor irrespective of the communities. They also said that they reject and oppose such laws. Many women recounted their tales about how they had to fight for even availing the most basic amenities apart from their constant fight for dignity in the society.

"Despite social stigma and discrimination, I tried to get children education and assisted in opening schools for Pardhi community kids. When I got injured in a mishap, I got no assistance and lost my minor son. We suffer all our lives. We face police harassment and get nothing from the goverment, not even benefit of schemes.

Children die because of lack of proper medication and we have no land to sell when we need money to get someone treated", said a woman hailing from Panna district. The Kalbelia, Gond, Pardhi and Kanjar community members also presented a song of agitation at the spot. At the 'Ekjutta sammelan, they decided to agitate and fight against oppression and discriminatory laws.

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Journalist for more than 20 years. Had started his career with National Mail in the nineties. Worked as Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, as an Assistant Editor with DB Post, later Contributing Editor with The Huffington Post, writes for First Post, The Wire, Newsd & several other major publications.