Though they are Scheduled Tribes (STs) in northern Andhra Pradesh, just across the Sileru river in southern Odisha, the Konda Reddi community is not recognised as tribal.

Warning that Maoists are taking advantage of their grievances, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has recommended that their claims — which he feels are genuine — be examined soon.

In a letter to Union Tribal Affairs Minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo on Monday, Mr. Ramesh pointed out that when Malkangiri district — and other parts of southern Odisha — was part of the erstwhile Madras Presidency, the Konda Reddis were recognised as a tribal community. When the linguistic states were formed, they lost that status on the northern side of the border. In fact, for the Konda Reddis of Odisha the mother tongue is Telugu.

“Artificial boundaries have resulted in a gross injustice to this community,” said Mr. Ramesh, who met a delegation of Malkangiri’s Konda Reddis on Monday. “These villages in Malkangiri are remote and under-developed. The Maoists have taken advantage of these grievances and built a strong base in this area.”

Suggesting that the claims of communities recognised as ST in one State but not another be considered separately from the general claims for ST status, Mr. Ramesh requested Mr. Deo to call a meeting of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and the Registrar General of India to resolve this long-pending issue.

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