BALASORE: Tribal leaders in Mayurbhanj district have welcomed the decision of Santhal community heads to ostracise Tribal Welfare Minister Sudam Marndi for allowing his daughter marry a Brahmin youth against the tradition of the community.
At a meeting (Majhi Hadam) at Bangriposi on Friday, the community heads decided to socially boycott Marndi and residents of three villages, Kandalia (Marndi’s native), Dahisahi and Balikhani, for life. The villagers had to face the music for supporting Marndi and not attending the meeting on Friday.
The meeting was attended by members of Adivasi Socio Educational and Cultural Association (ASECA), heads (Majhi Hadam) of nearly 150 tribal dominated villages, heads of ‘ghat parganas’ (where tribals immerse the mortal remains of the dead) and heads of ‘desh parganas.’ Though the Minister was invited, he did not attend.
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) district president and tribal leader Fagu Hansdah welcomed the ‘diktat’ issued against the Minister’s family and other villagers. He said unlike others, the Santhal community is conservative and they do not spare anybody who goes against its tradition.
“It was Marndi who had opposed many inter-caste marriages, including the ones of former minister Saraswati Hembram’s children and former minister Chaitanya Prasad Majhi’s daughters. How can he escape? The community leaders have taken the right decision to preserve the Santhal tradition and they have sent a message that the rule is same for all,” Hansdah said.
As a JMM leader, Marndi used to mobilise tribal votes through his fiery anti-Diku (association with non-tribals) speeches and instigate community chiefs to ostracise tribesmen marrying outside their community.
However, BJD MP Sarojini Hembram tried to strike a balance saying both the Minister’s daughter Sanjivani and the community leaders are right in their own way. “Sanjivani is an educated girl and has the right to choose her life partner. There is a tradition in Santhal community which does not allow inter-caste marriages. So, whatever the community heads have decided is also right,” she said.
Incidentally, Marndi had then allegedly opposed the marriages of Sarojini and her sister Lipi as they tied the knot with non-tribals. “He was then in another political party,” she said, trying to parry questions as to why she will not now oppose Marndi directly.
Meanwhile, the community heads have called another meeting on Wednesday and are reportedly preparing to perform certain rituals. As per the Santhal tradition, a neem twig, broken earthen pot, used broomsticks and burnt wood is buried in front of the house of a violator of tradition if he is found guilty by the community leaders.
Marndi had given his daughter Sanjivani in marriage to BJD students’ wing general secretary Sunil Sarangi, a Brahmin, on January 31.