SC groups clash over exclusion of communities

SC groups clash over exclusion of communities

A public meeting organised by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, to hash out the proposed exclusion of certain communities from the Scheduled Caste (SC) category, turned ugly after two SC groups clashed at Ambedkar Bhavan here on Tuesday.

The bone of contention is a petition filed in the Karnataka High Court, which has called for communities such as the Bhovi (Vaddara), Koracha, Korma, Lambani (Banjara), to be stripped of their SC privileges on the ground that they are socially and economically developed groups.

The two groups initially had heated exchanges. Some of those assembled, especially those from the Karnataka State Bhovi (Vaddara) Sangha, even questioned the legitimacy of the National Commission to conduct such a public meeting.

Members openly declared that such a meeting was against the law and the Constitution. S L Gangadharappa, president of the Sangha, even added that the National Commission for the SC/ST did not have the right to discuss the exclusion of certain communities under the SC category. “These issues have to be discussed in parliament,” he said.

The turmoil was eventually brought under control by police.

Claims, counterclaims

According to R Raju, president of the All-India Ambedkar Kranthi Dal, those communities facing the axe from the SC category have been availing of SC benefits afforded by the government, even though they are not a part of the untouchable community. “These communities do not worship Dr B R Ambedkar and never remember him during their events,” Raju said. “They claim to be part of the SC category, but are socially, economically and politically stronger. Many members of the Bhovi community have even been elected as MLAs.”

The Sangha, however, retorted that the said communities were included under the SC category in 1917 under the “depressed class” and it is not a category based on untouchability.

“These communities were categorised purely on the  basis of their profession and their social and economic status,” the Sangha said in an official statement.

Flashpoint

The flashpoint came about following a series of events earlier in the day. Panel members of the National Commission had arrived in the City to receive a memorandum from various SC groups about the petition.

The Chairperson of the Commission, P L Punia, who addressed the meeting clearly stated that he was in the City only to collect memorandums from different SC groups and not to take a decision on the exclusion. However, the High Court on Tuesday granted an interim stay directing the National Commission not to finalise the issue based on the public hearing. It also stayed the proceedings of the commission.

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