Govt commemorates death anniversary of tribal youth at Ravindra Bhavan ST activists on hunger strike observe the day as ‘Black Day’ at Lohia Maidan
The 12th death anniversary of the two tribal leaders, Manguesh Gaonkar and Dilip Velip, who had lost their lives in the famous UTAA agitation at Balli on May 25, 2011, was observed in contrasting fashion on Thursday indicating deep division in the ST movement – an official programme at the Ravindra Bhavan, Margao and a hunger strike at the historic Lohia Maidan.
The official programme commemorating the deaths of the two tribal youth saw the presence of Ministers Govind Gaude and Subhash Faldesai, with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who is away in Delhi, sending a recorded message to members of the tribal community, while the ST activists sitting on a hunger strike at the Lohia Maidan observed the day as a black day.
At the Ravindra Bhavan, Art and Culture Minister Govind Gaude went hammer and thongs at the Tribal group fighting for political reservations under the banner of Mission Political Reservations for the Scheduled Tribes, who had staged the hunger strike at the Lohia Maidan, by terming the mission as Mission Politics and Mission hidden agenda.
Without taking names, Gaude said the political reservations movement is being taken forward with vested interests, even saying those who are criticising UTAA chief Prakash Velip are not worthy even to sit near Velip’s slippers.
He pointed out that UTAA has been agitating to achieve the demands of the tribal community since the time of the Congress-ruled UPA government. “UTAA delegation had even called on then UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and had presented the charter of demands,” he said.
Saying that anyone is free to hold an agitation in a democratic set up, Gaude, however, took exception to the criticism of UTAA by some leaders. “We also support agitation, but now the mode of achieving the target should be different. We don’t need the advice of these people to take the movement forward,” he said, while calling upon the tribal community to unite and not fall prey to these vested interests.
Asserting that UTAA is not aligned to any political party, Gaude said that only UTAA will succeed in making the dream of the tribal community for political reservations a reality. UTAA chief Prakash Velip called for support from all the organisations to achieve the demands of the tribal community. Saying that UTAA is a firebrand force amongst the tribal community, Prakash said the organisation will do whatever it can to achieve the just demands of the tribal community.
On the occasion, Social Welfare Minister Subhash Faldesai, who represents the tribal-dominated Sanguem constituency, publicly supported the political reservations for the ST community, as he acknowledged the support of the tribal community over the years.
Political reservations for STs find no mention in CM’s message
MARGAO: The contentious issue of political reservations found no mention in Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s recorded message at the Prerana Din programme organised by the Directorate of Tribal Welfare and United Tribal Alliance Association (UTAA) to observe the death anniversary of tribal youth Manguesh Gaonkar and Dilip Velip, who were killed in the UTAA-led agitation at Balli on May 25, 2011.
The Chief Minister, however, said the BJP-government has set in motion the process to resolve the issues plaguing the tribal community, and urged the people to remain united and support the government in taking the community forward.
“Today, we are remembering the sacrifices made by Manguesh Gaonkar and Dilip Velip with the sole purpose how they had worked for the upliftment of the community. After the tribal communities were bestowed the status as Scheduled Tribes in 2003, these communities did not get their rights and benefits until 2012 when the government formed the Tribal Welfare Department to look after the social welfare, health and education needs of the community,” he said.
The Chief Minister said the government has cleared around 500 forest rights case, assuring that the individual and community rights cases will be resolved by next year.
He said the government has implemented the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme for the tribal students pursuing secondary, higher secondary and higher education. “The government has been implementing the Atal Housing Scheme for the tribal for house construction and repairs,” he said.