BARIPADA: Normal life was paralysed in Mayurbhanj on Wednesday due to a 12-hour bandh called by the Kudumi Mohantas urging both the Central and State governments to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to their communities.
Demonstrators gathered in strategic locations, including Karanjia, Rairangpur, Kaptipada, and the district headquarters in Baripada. Vehicular services on key routes such as the National Highway, State Highway, and district came to a grinding halt, inconveniencing commuters.
A rail blockade near Bhanjpur station in Baripada led to the detainment of the Bangiriposi-Puri Superfast and Salimar-Puri Similipal Express trains. Local businesses also felt the impact of the bandh.
It is pertinent to mention that the State Government issued a directive on July 10, 2023, instructing collectors in various districts to submit survey reports on the distinctive culture, geographical isolation, and social dynamics of these communities. However, several district authorities have yet to comply with this directive.
Prominent figures from the Adivasi Kudumi Samaj, including Manoj Kumar Mohanta, Basanta Kumar Mohanta, Padmalochan Mohanta, and Chhotlal Mohanta voiced their concerns and said that an estimated 25 lakh Kudumi Mohanta community members reside in Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Sambalpur, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Angul, and Deogarh districts. An additional 50 lakh are believed to be living in West Bengal, with 80 lakh in Jharkhand.
The leaders emphasised that despite having their own language, unique culture, traditional marriage rituals, and conflict resolution systems similar to other tribes, the State Government and Centre have failed to grant them ST status.
The community was delisted by the Centre in 1956, despite being recognised as primitive tribes in multiple rulings of the Patna High Court between 1925 and 1941. Senior police officers informed that the bandh remained peaceful.