Shree Jual Oram
Hon’ble Union Tribal Minister
Ministry of Tribal Affairs
Subject: In the matter of immediate scheduling of the Santal tribe of Assam to include them in the Scheduled Tribe (S.T) list of Assam.
All Santal Students’ Union (ASSU)
Dated: 8th July, 2014
Venue: New Delhi
At the very outset we the following signatories on behalf of Santal people of Assam convey our heartiest congratulations for your glorious victory and the historical victory of your party in this largest democratic country of the world.
Sir, we welcome the steps taken by the Government of India for inclusion of some communities as scheduled tribes, which appeared in the News Paper “The Telegraph, Guwahati” dated New Delhi, Monday 9 June 2014 and as per the news some of the communities of Assam (migrants)like Bedia, Kharia, Gonda, Munda, Kil Oraon are also being recommended for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribes list of Assam.
Sir, we are extremely surprised and taken aback by the news asthe Santals who are the major and primitive tribes seem to be left out from the recommendation as nothing has been mentioned about their inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe (S.T) list.
Sir, you are aware of the fact that the Santal tribes were brought to Assam to work as Tea-workers in the Tea plantations. Not just that, some Santals were forced to displace from their state of origin and were made to settle down in the forest areas of Assam by the Britishers just after the Santal revolt against the British in 1855-56. Also, various research and studies approve that Santals had existed in Assam since 150 A.D.
Sir, according to the census of 2001 the Santal population is about 12(twelve) lakhs in Assam. They are extremely backward in all spheres i.e. socially, educationally, economically, politically and they still maintain the primitive trait and observe the festivals like Sohrae, Baha, Karam, Mak-more, Dasai of their own. They have their distinct language and culture. They still feel shy in mixing with other people or communities and they still like to keep themselvesisolated in the Tea Gardens or Santal villages. Out of the total population of Santals the percentage of education among the Santals is not more than 15%. The number of doctors, engineers, advocates and other professionals can be counted in fingers and the number of Government employees is very nominal. The Santhals are Scheduled Tribes in other states like Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal. Even in Tripura, which is a state within the North Eastern part of India, they are recognised as Scheduled Tribes but it is very unfortunate that the Santal living in the state of Assam, which too is a part of the North East India, are not yet considered to be recognized as Scheduled Tribe (S.T) inspite of all the criterias being fulfilled by them. These negligence and injustice against them had resulted in further pushing them towards extreme backwardness in every sphere and have made their lives more miserable. Unless they are not included as Scheduled Tribe and provided constitutional privileges, their upliftment and development is not possible and they will continue to remain as a down-trodden community in this fast developing country.
With much hope to understand us better, we have included below an ethnographic note on the Santal tribe for your kind reference, understanding and necessary consideration.
ETHNOGRAPHIC NOTE ON THE SANTAL TRIBE
The Santal people are Kolarian aborigines of India among the Mundari group of Proto-Australoid origin.They bear the common features of an Austric.They are generally short in structure, but sturdy in limbs; among them the flat nose with a sunken nose, ridge is fairly common.They frequently have wavy hair; sometimes it is curly, though it is never frizzy, they are medium built with black eyes and dark skin. By nature their behaviour is very amiable, shyness and of normal character.
As per records available with the Historians, Anthropologists and Linguistics, the Santals are aborigines among theKolarian Tribes of India. Dr. B.S.Guha has distinguished 6(six) main types of races among them, who has inhabited in India. The Santals belong to this second main race, as Proto-Australoid, who are considered as Prince of soil of India, soon after the Negritos. They bear the common features of an Austric. They have been found since the Pre-Historic skulls in India. The first name of the Santal was Kaliasona (Black Gold), after that they are found as Saotar (they ruled seven kingdoms), and at present called as the Santals (means, they had a Sant Kingdom).
The Santals believe till today that they had ruled long time in Ancient Harappa and Mohenjodaro, which evolution and civilisation has been called as Indus Valley. The Santals left the glorious Land of Cae Campa in order to get rid of atrocities and torture committed by Madho Sing. Some of the Santal people went to the East and some to the South.The Santals who have been living in Assam were the part of East group; they came to Kamrup region through the dense forest of the Himalayan valley. Among them some people crossed Himalayan Mountain and entered into the China region and they lost their communication with the rest. The Santals who are living in Assam (Kamrup), East Bengal, North Bengal and Nepal are the parts of East groups referred in the book (The books of Karam Binti and Traditions and Institutions of the Santals).
SOCIETY AND CLANS OR SEPTS
The Santal Society is divided into a number of Clans or Septs (Khut or Paris) based on totemic.According to the Ancestral traditions, they had 12(twelve) Clans or Paris among the Santal Society. These twelve clans still exist and each Clan has more than 35 to 40 Totems. The twelve Clans (Paris) are 1. Kisku, 2. Murmu, 3. Hasda, 4. Marandi, 5. Soren, 6. Hembrom, 7. Tudu, 8. Baskey, 9. Besra, 10. Pauria, 11. Core, 12. Bedea. The Clan system of the Santals appear to emerge out of the profession they were attached to. For instance, the Kisku’s were the Kings (Rapaj) group of the Society, the Murmu’s were the Priest (Naeke Thakur), the Hasda’s were the Lawyers (Gahria), the Marandi’s were the Landlords (Kipisar), the Soren’s were the Soldiers (Sipahi), the Hembrom’s were the Nobility (Kuaria), the Tudu’s were the Singers and Musicians (Gaenaha), the Baskey’s were the Traders/Businessman (Banic Beparia) etc. This Clannish system of the Santal Society has been significant. It is strictly prohibited that the marriage ceremonial will not be allowed in between the same clan of Bride-Groom in the Santal society.
PRIMITIVE AND VILLAGE COUNCIL
The Santal village community which has the good fortune to live in from generation to generation is in its way most orderly society. There is the Manjhi (Headman), the Paranik (Vice-Headman), there is the Naeke (Sacrificial Priest) as well as the Kudam Naeke (the priest of the outskirts) and there are Moral Supervisors, called Jog Manjhi and Jog Paranik. These are the office bearers of an average Santal village. But in order to call the villagers together and to take the officers messages to the individual, a Messenger called as Godet is needed. All are elected by a kind of common agreement, though in the practice the officers are hereditary. In order to show that their officers depend on the will of the community, they hold the annual Magh festival, when the officers lay down their duties to the accompaniment of a great drinking of home-brewed liquor (Handi), and a week later they are re-installed with more drinking.
WORSHIP AND SACRED GROVE
Every Santal village has Manjhi Than (Sacred Grove). The village people have established the Manjhi Than infront of the house of the village Headman (Manjhi). There the village Priest worships in the name of Marang Buru or Manjhi Haram in every festivals and when they face any distress in the village. The “Jaher Than” is established in the middle portion of every Santal villages for offering sacrifices to the Bongas. The Naeke (Village Priest) sacrifices to the Jaher Era, Moreko, Turueko, Gosae Era, Pargana and Marang Buru in the Jaher Than. According to the legends of the Santals, when they were living in Hihiri Pipiri, the Marang Buru advised Pilcu Haram to shoot the arrow in the sky by his bow and said: Where the arrow come back to the earth and get fixed, the Jaher Than may be made there. Pilcu Haram shot his arrow in the sky and when the arrow landed on the root of a pair of Sal Tree, the Marang Buru told him that this place was the holy place and from that time the Jaher Than was established in front of a pair of the Sal Tree and sacrifices were made there in the name of Bongas. Thus, the Santals have been sacrificing to their Spirits at Manjhi Than and Jaher Than at every Santal villages.
DRESS AND ORNAMENTS
In the Dark Era, the Santal had no clothes and no homes in Hihiri Pipiri (the first land of Santals). They used leaves of the trees as clothes and the hollow of trees and caves of the mountains were used as their home. After civilization of Harappa and Mohenjodaro in Cae Campa, they were skilled to weave clothes of the Kaskom (Kopas) and the Indus Script was used for education. The Santal people have their own unique dresses. The women wear Panchi-Parhad, a beautiful and particularly decorated dress. The Panchi is worn in the middle part of the body and the Parhad around the waist. It is a mix of green and white with attractive colours similar to nature. The Santal women wear the ornaments like the Sikri Mala (the three or five string chains made of silver, worn around the neck by women), the Condrohar Mala (the here string chain made of silver is worn around the neck by women) and also Hasli a silver ornament. The wristlets like Sagar Sakom, Pitna Sakom, Baiha Sakom, Amchola Sakom, Katri Sakom, Regra Sakom, Khila Sakom and Rasunia Sakom are worn on the lower arms by women and the Khaga worn on both upper arms. The women also wear Theka Pagra (Ear ring) in the lobe of the ear, the Haku Salak and Jhin Salak (a kind of ear pin) applied on the sut’ (a method of tying up the hair by binding it), the Bak and Banki (a kind of anklet) worn on lower portion of feet. The Santal men wear kurta in the upper part of the body and the Panchi on the lower part from waist to feet along with Darhi worn on the head. The Santal men wear the Sikri Buttons on the decorated kurta. The Santal men also wear the ornaments like the Todor in the lower portion of the right hand, the Madali and Sak Mala round the neck, the Harhara on the waist, the Paigan and Lipur on the lower portion of feet, the Baz Mundam in the middle finger of the right hand and the Khaga on both arms.
MUSIC, SONGS AND DANCE
The Santal uses the musical instrument like Tumdak’, Tamak’ (kind of drum), Dhol, Bata, Tirio, Murli (a kind of flute), Kat Banam and Kasa Kortal. The Santals have various kinds of songs and dances. The Baha songs and dances, Sohrae songs and dances, Dong songs and dances, Lagre songs and dances, Chatiar Songs and dances, Karam songs and dances, Bhinsar songs and dances, Durumjak’ songs and dances, Guluari songs and dances, Dasae songs and dances, Dunger songs and dances, Matwar songs and dances, Humti songs and dances, Gunjar songs and dances, Jhika songs and dances, Loboe songs and dances are enjoyed in the festivals of the Santal society.
According to the traditions and Folks of the Santals; their ancestors learnt the Spirits of Ojha (Medicinal Science) from the Kamru Guru, which replicated Kamrup as Magic Country. The name of the Kamrup country came from the great Ayurved Scientist Kamru whose methods have been followed in the Santal society and traditionally sacrifices have been made to Kamru as a Guru till today (The Santal and disease, Page-123).
THE FORMER TERRITORY OF THE KAMRUP
In North-Western was North Bengal upto Karatoya river, in the Southern side was a part of Bangladesh (presently Mymensing province) and in the eastern side was Assam upto Dikrai river. (Assamese-Its Formation and Development, Page-5). Dr. Banikanta Kakati stated in his book that the word Kamrup came from Austric pronounciation: Kamru or Kamru-t and the meaning of the placeclearly reflect that Kamru Guru was Santhali ofAustric origin, who was known as the Guru of Ojhas. Perhaps popularly the country was known as Kamru or Kamru-t(d), the Santali Kamru or Kamru-t being a suffix of place names. Kamrupa having been a place famous for Tantric Practices, Kamru-t would suggest some sort of connection with a land of necromancy. The Pouranik legend also speaks of the revival of a dead person here. Kamrupa may be an Aryanisation of Kamru-t. (Assamese-Its Formation and Development, Page-48,49,28, 29, 30 and 31). Mr. F.A. Sachese in the Gazetteer of Mymensing says: At the time of Mahabharata, Mymensing formed a part of Prag-jyotisa, which 3000 years later in Buddhist time was known as Kamrupa. The Eastern Boundary of Kamrupa was Dikrai river in the Eastern Assam and the Western boundary was the Karatoya River in the North Bengal, which still runs out of Nepal parallel to the Atrai through Rangpur and Pabna. So, the present end of Jamuna and considerable strips of the Rajsahi Division (presently Rajsahi, Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri, Malda, Rungpore, Bogra and Pabna) as well as the Northern Parganas of Mymensing must have been included in Kamrupa (Cited from Studies in the History of Assam by Surya Kumar Bhuyan, Page-18,22)
The Santals were the aborigines in Kamrup territory, which is at present called Assam.
A most important document, i.e. The Assam Land Revenue Regulation Act, 1886 mentions about “Santal Colony Tribal Block” in the district of Goalpara (presently in Kokrajhar). The Govt. of Assam has accepted Santals as Tribal in Principle. This Santal Colony Tribal Block proves that the Santals were originally Scheduled Tribe of Assam. The Notification reads: “In exercise of the power conferred by Section 161 of the Assam Land Revenue Regulation Act, 1886(Regulation 1 of 1886) as amended by the Assam Land and Revenue (Amendment) Act 1947, Assam XV of 1947, the Govt. of Assam are pleased to constitute a Tribal Block comprising the 43 Santal villages of “Santal Colony Mouza” of Gossaigaon Circle of Goalpara district and named as “Santal Colony Tribal Block” with an areas covering 59,930 Bighas, 1 Katha and 19 Lessas, which has restricted on transfer to non-Santals. It’s Memo No. KRP.5/77/22-A, Dated: 9/9/77.”
The Govt. of Assam provided the Land rights in Chapter X to the Santals or the backward classes of Assam which is called Tribal Belt/Blocks. According to Chapter X, the State Govt. may notify and specify the classes or persons whom it considers entitled to protection by measures relating to provision of sufficient lands for their maintenances. The Govt. of Assam has notified the following classes of persons who require the protection on account of their primitive condition and lack of Education or Material advantages and incapable of looking after their welfare. These Belt/Blocks has been constituted Community wise as follows: 1. Plain Tribal, 2. Hills Tribal, 3. Tea Garden Tribal, 4. Santhals, 5. Scheduled Castes, 6. Koch Rajbangsi’s of Old Goalpara district. According to this Act, the Govt. of Assam has imposed restriction on transferring of their Lands (Section 162). These documents and records are evidence that the Santals are really the Sons of Soil of Assam (An introduction to the Land Laws of Assam, Page -118,119).
The Santal people have their own language and literature. The Santals have one to five volumes of Dictionaries, written in Roman Script by Paul OlaveBodding in eighteenth century. Now, the Santals have their own script called ‘Ol Chiki’ discovered and designed by Pandit Raghunath Murmu. The Santali language is introduced in High Schools as an elective subject under Secondary Education Board of Assam. The language is introduced in many primary schools as a medium of instruction and is gradually upgraded to Secondary education as well as to college level in West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand. The Santali language was recognized as a course of study for Master Degree at Sido-Kanhu Murmu University Dumka, Kolkata University, Ranchi University and Rourkela University etc. in India. The Santali Language has been included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India on 22nd December, 2003. The Bengali writer, Dr. Parimal Chandra Mitra had published a book titled as “Santali: the base of world languages”. The Santali language, culture, literature, heritage are rich and thus the Nobel prize winner of India - the Great Poet Rabindranath Tagore too have included the Santali traditions in Gitanjali (Nobel Book Gitanjali, Page- 7, 32, 34 and 38).
Sir, we therefore urge upon you to give kind attention to this most deserving issue and take immediate and necessary action towards justifying this historic injustice meted out to the 12 (twelve) lakhs Santals in Assamby helping them to get the benefit as Scheduled Tribes which we believe will improve and uplift the life and living condition of this backwardand marginalized community. Your goodwill, kind consideration and necessary action will always be remembered, honoured and cherished by the entire Santals of Assam.
(KAIEN KR. HEMBROM) (MINTU HEMBROM)
President, General Secretary
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