Mumbai

‘We owe everything to those who fought before us’

Festive fervour: Attendees clad in traditional tribal attire at a procession in Vasai on Birsa Jayanti.

Festive fervour: Attendees clad in traditional tribal attire at a procession in Vasai on Birsa Jayanti.  

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Tribals celebrate Birsa Jayanti with zeal

The Adivasi Ekta Parishad, a tribal rights organisation based in Vasai, celebrated the birth anniversary of tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda by felicitating the members of their community who were arrested during the recent protests to save the Aarey forest.

The celebration, which was held last week to pay respects to the freedom fighter from Jharkhand, began with a rally of around 200 people that started from Vasai Bus Depot to the Tehsil office. Men and women clad in traditional tribal attire danced to folk songs and raised slogans as an assertion of their suppressed identity.

At the end of the two-hour rally, onlookers and participants alike were made aware of issues pertaining to water, agriculture and land that have plagued the community for years. Devedas Waghe, an attendee at the rally, said this annual celebration was crucial to the community.

“We owe everything we have today to those who fought before us which is why we celebrate him (Birsa) with such revelry,” he said.

Issues of negligence with regard to tribal caste certifications and other instances of oppression were discussed through the course of the programme. Boisar MLA Rajesh R. Patil vowed to work towards ending the problems of obtaining caste certificates faced by the community. “There is a lack of uniformity in the process of certification, which is why it becomes so difficult to obtain them. I will make sure this ends so we can avail the rights to which we are entitled,” he said.

Activisits like Shashi Sonawane from the Mahamumbai Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti and Sameer Vartak from the Paryavaran Samvardhan Samiti were among those felicitated during the function.

‘Must stay strong’

Prakash Jadhav, secretary of the Adivasi Ekta Parishad, stressed on the importance of the community to stay strong, remain resilient and protect tribal culture.

“We as tribals work hard but it is because we have no other choice. We need to fight for our rights and fight to keep our forests safe. We have to work together and not give in,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 10:53:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/we-owe-everything-to-those-who-fought-before-us/article30001771.ece

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