‘Special Primitive Tribe Police Battalion’: Sinister Moves in Jharkhand

A sinister move to divide the Adivasis, a la Chhattisgarh’s Salwa Judum and set them against each other

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A new ‘’back door’ has been opened. To divide Adivasis and distance themselves from  each  other.  India’s prime minister on his official visit to Santal Pargana in Jharkhand on March 6, 2017 laid the foundation stone of a bridge over the Ganga that will join Jharkhand and Bihar. At the same time he also inaugurated the “Special Primitive Tribe Police Battalion’,  exclusively composed of men and women from the primitive tribes.

Reports now reveal that this Battalion had already been constituted and has been functional from before this date, but it was lined up again to make a show of the PM himself inaugurating it. As many as 956 persons, including 252 women, of different primitive tribes have been selected to form part of it. The women will be posted as constables. The men will form the Special Primitive Tribe Police Battalion which will be patterned after the Central Para-military Force. What exactly will be the nature of the task it will perform has not been disclosed yet. The important thing is they will be employed by the governments (Central and State) with a stable income whereas the youth from the general tribes will still be hunting for jobs.

Strategy: Break Adivasi Unity
There are 32 tribes in Jharkhand and nine have been tagged  as Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). These tribal groups are Asur, Birhor, Hill Kharia, Birajia, Korwa, Parahiya (Baiga), Sabar, Mal Pahariya and Souriya Pahariya constituting a population of 2.23 lakh out of the total 70.87 lakh tribal population

The differentiating factor is a matter of concern insofar as the Adivasi Community will be now divided from within, making it more difficult for them to struggle together for their  economic, social, cultural and political rights. This is precisely what the ruling class wants to see happen.

A pertinent example of this divide and rule policy, is how two Paharia persons who had registered themselves as independent candidates in the by-poll for a vacant Assembly seat in Jharkhand have formally announced their support to the ruling party. This is just one day after the prime minister announced the formation of Special Primitive Tribe Police Battalion. So the government can go on throwing freebies at the marginalised people and they will continue to fall for it.

Who are the ‘Primitive Tribals’?                        
First of all, the very labelling is wrong. Whether they come under general Adivasi or Primitive Adivasi, they all are Adivasis.  So they are one people. The Primitive Tribal Groups are the most neglected section of the population. Being basically landless, they depend on forest produce for a living with very low educational levels and subject to endemic diseases.

It is a clever but cruel to not only segregate them from one another but also place them against each other to serve the political convenience of the ruling class. Seeing the present plight of the primitive tribes, the government should be forthcoming with meaningful and effective efforts to lift them out of their dire  economic poverty  and social weaknesses.

A speedy implementation of Forest Rights Act, 2006 whereby each family will have at least 2 hectares (5 acres) of patta land will go a long way towards a self-sustaining economy. The community as a whole cannot develop just by recruiting a few of them (956  out of a total of 2.23 lakh) into the police force. The move will only create economic disparity within the community.

Put differently, their well-being as a community be brought about only through agricultural  development. And for that to happen, each family should have a viable amount of land boosted with irrigation facilities. The education of their children should take place in their mother-tongue. Their young women should be trained in basic health service using their traditional knowledge and practice of herbs and roots.  

The traditional Adivasi egalitarian community is disappearing. The traditional Adivasi Community was characterised by equality, cooperation, community-sense, consensus decision-making. It  is being broken into non-caring individuals by the capitalist order. The traditional Adivasi value system  holds the  community as supreme . Then comes the family and only then  the individual person.

In other words the individual Adivasi has his/her identity only as a member of the community.  And the Adivasi Community is predominantly an agrarian community and jal, jangal, jamin are their life-source.

But what the government is doing is taking away their life-source and opens the way for a few of them to find employment  outside  their village and outside the agrarian economy. These individuals become urbanised and are then alienated from their community and very few extend solidarity to the struggles their own people are waging against displacement and land alienation. This division has reached a stage wherein affected Adivasis have taken it upon themselves to struggle for their rights and not count on their kith and kin who have been co-opted into the  capitalist mainstream.  

Is it any wonder then that the Adivasis in rural areas are no more prepared to go on suffering the exploitation and oppression by the ruling capitalist class which is using the government as a convenient tool to usurp the mineral-and-forest-rich land to reap immense profit ? The corporates, the business class, the urban middle class, the government bureaucracy from top to bottom, the police and para-military forces, most of the print and electronic media, and most political parties have all come to represent forces inmical to the Adivasi.

What task will be given to the newly recruited PVTG para-military force? We hope against hope that they will not be forced into the so-called ‘anit-maoist’ operation which in effect would mean they will fight other adivasis and Moolvasis. That will be the unkindest cut of all.



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