BALASORE: Sports Minister Sudam Marndi, who built his political career by fomenting anti-Diku (association with non-tribals) campaigns, is now facing the music for the same transgression.
Marndi and his entire family was on Saturday ostracised by the Santhal community, he belongs to, for allowing their daughter to marry a Brahmin youth. Residents of three villages, including the Minister’s own, in Mayurbhanj district have also been excommunicated for supporting his family.
Effigies of Marndi were burnt and posters denouncing him in Santhali dialect were pasted at many places in Mayurbhanj by angry protesters. The president of Mayurbhanj Adivasi Students’ Association (MASA) Sukul Marndi has demanded expulsion of the Minister from the Naveen Patnaik Cabinet.
The ostracisation decision was taken by the community heads at a meeting (Majhi hadam) at Bangriposi on Friday even as the village chiefs of Kandalia (Marndi’s native), Dahisahi and Balikhani organised a purification puja on Thursday to bless the newly-wed couple. The tribe heads, however, rejected the purification ritual on the grounds that the inter-caste marriages are against the Santhal tradition.
The meeting attended by more than 150 tribal villages of Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal was chaired by Baidhar Marndi, president of ‘Bhanja Dishom Majhi Pargana’, the highest tribal body working for the protection of tribal society in the region.
Baidhar said the minister’s family has been boycotted socially for life over the inter-caste marriage. “They won’t be allowed to perform the last rites of their family members at the Damodar ghat and offer puja at Jahira (place of worshiping tribal deity),” he said and added that no tribal will marry their daughters and sons. Neither any tribal will go to their house and attend any function nor are they allowed to attend other tribals’ events. The restriction will be in force till their death, he said. The restrictions will also be imposed on the villagers of Kandalia, Dahisahi and Balikhani as they did not attend Friday’s meeting.
It is Marndi’s own fiery reputation of opposing Santhalis marrying outside the community that has come back to haunt him. When he was in the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the chiefs of the community said, Marndi was known for his anti-Diku movement. Those days, Marndi would instigate community chiefs to ostracise tribesmen marrying outside the caste.
Baripada sub-division chief Nimai Murmu said despite being a Santhal community member and lawmaker, Marandi has broken the tradition of his own community.
“When Marandi was in JMM, he had been criticising Diku and influencing tribals not to believe them. When former Minister Chaitanya Prasad Majhi married off his two daughters Sarojini Hembram and Lipi Hembram to non-tribals, Marndi was first to protest and boycotted them socially. The family had to leave their native village. Now he has done the same thing only to further his political career,” said Murmu.
Marndi had married off his daughter Sanjivani, a doctor, to Biju Janata Dal student leader Sunil Sarangi, a Brahmin, at a hotel in Bhubaneswar on January 31. The marriage was attended by many prominent persons including Governor SC Jamir and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.