The tussle between Lambadas and Adivasis’ over Scheduled Tribe reservations seems to be intensifying with each passing day. The agitation by Adivasis reached Hyderabad on Saturday with more than lakh tribals from across the state reaching the indoor arena in Saroornagar to demand that government drop Lambadas from ST list.
Adivasis allege that Lambadas cannot be segregated on par with tribal clans as they have historically migrated from other parts of the country and reside close to cities unlike the hill dwelling tribes. Another crucial bone of contention is the accusation that Lambadas are eating into major chunk of the reservation accorded to STs thereby outstripping deserving Adivasi candidates.
Commentators are worried that the issue would assume a political colour like the ST Mala-Madiga conflict. Both communities have divergent practices with regard to habitations and customs and therefore do not share a socio-cultural bond.
Who are the Lambadas?
Around 30 clans, including a few sects of the Lambadas are currently grouped under the ST category in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Lambadas’, whose historical roots trace back to Rajasthan and Gujarat are commonly referred to as Banjaras in these regions. Rajasthan and Gujarat have accorded an OC status to the nomadic community while Tamil Nadu and Maharastra have categorised them as Backward Classes. Lambadas were recognised as Scheduled Tribes in 1976 in the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh through an ordinance. Adivasis are now stressing the fact that Lambadis’ were not given a permanent ST status as stipulated by article 244.
Adivasi point of view
Representatives of the Adivasi community claim that the classification of a Scheduled Tribe was created to categorise various forest and hill dwelling clans of the country; hence according to Adivasi leaders, Lambadas who have always lived in the plains cannot be grouped as STs. A palpable sense of anger is apparent among Girijans who think ST reservations in education and jobs are being eaten up by Lambadas.
What are the Lambadas saying?
Lambada leaders allege that vested political factions are trying to create discord between them and Adivasis who have until now lived in harmony.
In this scenario, both communities have been holding competitive conferences and meets. While Adivasis’ have conducted ‘Tundum Debba’, Lambadas have given a call for ‘Lambada Ikhya Vedika’. As agitations intensify, the middle path seems elusive.