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R E S E R VA T I O N : T R I B A L S
Are the quotas reaching the ones who need them?

   The Supreme Court’s verdict regarding the exclusion of the creamy layer from the SC and ST quota created a major furore among the political class, so much so that many of them, including the likes of Arjun Singh, Ram Vilas Paswan and Meira Kumar, are all busy questioning the very authority of Supreme Court. The government, browbeaten by these so called champions of the backward castes, has been forced to think about taking recourse to the Ninth Schedule to prevent the implementation of the Supreme Court order. But are the ones who really need the support, really getting it from the government largesse? The tribals of Chhattisgarh, who live in utter destitution, poverty and relentless persecution by either the police or the Naxals, have no access to the quota benefits. Life, for these tribals of Naxal-infested districts of Dantewada and Bastar in Chhattisgarh, ironically, has been about fighting death. Fed up with the relentless exploitation and torture by the Naxals, tribals have now chosen to form the Salwa Judum, which essentially means ‘movement for peace’. Bows, arrows, and at times, vintage .303 rifles (that the government has provided) make up their arsenal. But consequently, more than 50,000 of these tribals have been displaced from their villages due to fear of Naxal retaliation, because the Naxals, crazed due to their reducing grip on tribals, want to crush the movement ruthlessly. Hundreds of them have already been killed by the Naxals. According to a report by the Asian Center for Human Rights, at least 460 people have been killed in the Naxal violence from January to June 2006; Chhattisgarh accounted for 48.25% of the killings. These tribals don’t have any access to education, healthcare, sanitation or a good future. Pity that the Naxals have even denied them entry into forests, their truest homeland. There is probably no Indian who is more underprivileged and cursed than them. SC, ST and creamy layer imbroglios over quotas are fine, who takes care of the most deserving candidates of them all? Wasn’t it supposed to be... er... us?!?!

Pathikrit Payne

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