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Explained: Who are Bhils and why are they demanding a separate state

Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), puts the creation of a separate state for the Bhil tribe as their primary demand

New Delhi: Bhil, a tribal community in western India, is demanding the creation of a separate state for the tribe. They are asking for some districts from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, for the creation of a ‘Bhil Pradesh’. The demand for a separate state for Bhils is not new. Know more about it below

Who are Bhils?

Bhil is one of the largest tribal communities in India. The people from this community are involved in agricultural and labour work. The community is divided into two castes, namely, Ujaliya/Kshatriya Bhil and Langot Bhil. Kshatriya Bhils are said to have migrated to forests after the Mughal invasion while the latter live in the forests and follow their old customs. Apart from the caste, the tribe is also divided into various sub-tribes.

What is Bhil community demanding?

Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), puts the creation of a separate state for the Bhil tribe as their primary demand. Ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections, their immediate demand is that Congress should send a tribal to the Upper House.

Why is Bhil demanding a separate state?

“Post-Independence, the tribal majority regions were divided by the political parties, so that the tribals don’t organise and unite,” said Dr Velaram Ghogra, the President of BTP. Giving the reason for the demand for a separate state, he said that over the decades, several governments brought various “laws, benefits, schemes, and committee reports” for tribals, but went slow on their execution. “Seeing how we have fared in 75 years, there is no other way but to have our own separate Bhil Pradesh,” Dr Ghogra added.

The demand for a separate state was first raised by a spiritual leader Govind Guru, back in 1913 after the Mangarh massacre. Mangarh massacre or the ‘Adivasi Jallianwala’, saw hundreds of Bhil tribals being killed by British forces on in the hills of Mangarh. Post-independence too, the demand for Bhil Pradesh has been raised repeatedly. BTP demands Bhil Pradesh, a state, created out of 39 districts of four states.

“The Rajasthan government adopted the law in 1999 and came out with its Rules in 2011. But even in my village Paldeval in Dungarpur, 25 years on, people don’t even know about the law. Even the MLAs and ministers of the BJP and Congress don’t have proper knowledge about the law,” Dr Ghogra cited this in the context of The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996. PESA, 1996 stats exceptions and modifications to Part IX of the Constitution, dealing with Panchayats in Scheduled areas.