Mumbai: The Bharatiya Bahujan Kranti Dal (BBKD) on Monday held a protest demanding 3% reservation under the scheduled tribe (ST) category for the Banjara community. In an application submitted at the Chief Minister’s Office, BBKD’s national president Morsingh Rathod said that a uniform pattern of reservation should be followed across states.
“We are one of the oldest tribes of the country and want the government to help us retain our cultural heritage. Though we are geographically divided, we are culturally united. Hence, we are asking the government to help us function better,” Mr. Rathod said.
The BBKD leader said that they are not looking for political support. “We have been through a lot of social ill-treatment.”
The classification of the Banjara community varies. In Maharashtra, they are recognised under the Vimukta Jaati and Nomadic Tribes whereas in Rajasthan and Karnataka, they fall under the scheduled caste category, and come under the ST category in Andhra Pradesh.
“Since there is no fixed category, we end up sharing the socio-economic benefits with other castes and tribes,” Nanda Mathure, women’s president, BBKD, said. Ms. Mathure said that they are just asking for a 3% in the existing 7% reservation under the ST category. “We don’t have anything else to ask for,” she said, adding that their next goal is to ensure representation of their community in the 2019 general elections.