National panel on tribes to hold a public hearing in Gujarat

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Ahmedabad, Dec 21 (UNI) The National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Tribes will hold a public hearing here on December 27 to get a first-hand account of the problems being faced by these communities in Gujarat.

The public hearing is being arranged by a group of NGOs, working for the benefit of the communities, said Harnesh Pandya, who heads the Vicharata Samuday Samarthan Manch.

''Earlier, the Commission, which started functioning in February, had come to Gujarat several times in the past and the government had taken care of the visits. The Commission had been led to believe that the tribes had no complaints. However, the case was not so. So we requested the body to come for a hearing,'' said Mittal Patel, a volunteer of the Manch at a press conference.

Mr Swayam Panda, a member of the techinical committee of the Commission will be holding the hearing.

An exhibition of photographs is also being held to show the ''pitiable conditions'' in which they live.

She said representatives from 40 nomadic and semi nomadic communities apart from 12 denotified tribes will participate in the event.

Also speaking on the occasion, Ahmed Ibrahim, a Dafer tribal from Chandpura village of Mehsana, said even after 59 years of Independence, these communities do not have a home. ''Historically, our communities were used by Rajas and Maharajas to indulge in dacoities and thefts in neighbouring kingdoms to spread terror there, so that they could conveniently attack them. And, this entailed us to live outside villages and move from place to place.

But now, generations after, we still have not been able to assimilate in the mainstream.

Villagers treat us with disdain. We still have to be on the move.

Our children are not able to go to proper schools as we do not live in one place for long,''he said.

Joining in, Sakinaben, a farm labourer alleged that the police have been harassing their community a lot.''Our men are picked up randomly for some highway robbery committed somewhere. They come to our place of habit and take them away,'' she added.

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