Spelling Mistakes are Keeping Out 26 Castes from Reservation in Chhattisgarh

Shirish Khare

– The spelling mistake became challenge for 26 castes in the group of which 8 are dalit castes and 18 are adivasis

– This figure may grow bigger as many other castes may be the victim of this spelling mistake, amongst them they have no one to voice their rights and represent them

– Struggle by deprived groups is intensifying in Chhattisgarh

Raipur

Ramashankar Kherwar belongs to the reserved tribe of Sarguja, Chhattisgarh. He expresses his grief, “I can’t contest in the election from any reserved seat for my own caste, because of a very minor spelling mistake in my surname.” It is because of Chhattisgarh government records that now the government is not recognizing him.

Actually ‘KHERWAR’ caste has been recorded as ‘KHERAWAR’. Due to this spelling mistake approximately more than 20 lakh of people are now deprived of their rights.

In Chhattisgarh, ‘KHAIRAWAR’ are not under reservation, while ‘KHAIRWAR’ are. The process of recording the data was misconducted by Tehsildar (revenue officers), as a consequence of which the reserved category of ‘KHAIRWAR’ (tribe) became unreserved- ‘KHAIRAWAR’ (a non existing caste). Similar spelling mistakes have become a challenge for 26 castes including 8 dalit caste and 18 tribal castes. Last year, Chhattisgarh government sent the record to the central government for correction.

Major spelling issues in Chhattisgarh

As per the tribal ministry, such issues generally occurred in Chhattisgarh, while undivided Madhya Pradesh (including Chhattisgarh) used to update the data correctly. After the establishment of Chhattisgarh state such issues increased, but government could not resolve despite completing 16 years of establishment.

Central Government passes the responsibility

Office of the Registrar General of India, New Delhi wrote to the Chattisgarh government that such spelling mistakes, resemblances, pronunciations correction are not centre’s issue. This is  an absolute state affair. They can themselves correct it, because in the past the deprived castes have been reserved.

Under the purview of the State government

The Chhattisgarh state Scheduled Tribes Commission has made it clear that it is issue of state government. The Chairman, Devlal Dugga said that the issue has already been discussed with the Office of the Registrar General of India, New Delhi. They have informed that the correction issue is not an affair of the Centre. That is why government of Chhattisgarh must rectify the data. He further says, mis-spelled castes are not new to the reservation system, rather have been under reservation in the undivided Madhya Pradesh. Earlier these castes were included under Schedule Cast and Schedule Tribe, so the state needs to make correction in their records.

Warning of a movement

A few days ago, a representative group led by the convenor of the committee Bhojraj Gourkhede, met with member of Chhattisgarh Scheduled Cast Commission Punitram Chouhan. The representative group alleged that the MAHAR, MAHRA and MAAHARA caste’s certificates are not being released.

The committee president BS Jagrat said in Raipur, Bilaspur, Durg and Bhilai officers are demanding revenue records of before 1950 from the people themselves. It is quite illogical for a common man to provide these. He warns, if the issue is not resolved at the earliest, committee will call a big agitation against the government for which lakhs of people will come out on the streets of state capital Raipur.

On the issue, tribal minister of Chhattisgarh Kedar Kashyap says that it is a big issue. We have communicated with the Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh, but it is very technical and time taking.

The castes who have been deprived of reservation –

Pathari, Paaradhi, Samvara, Saura, Sahra, Bhooiyan, Bhuyya, Bhiyyan, Dhanuhaar, Dhanuvaar, Shoori, Dhoori, Kol, Khairwar, Bhaariya, Bhariya, Bhinjhiya, Bhijhamvar, Kemvat, Deemar, Sabariya, Dhoba, Kharwar, Kherwar, Parahiya, Amaneet, Amanit, Sonjhari and Sonjhariya etc.

The original version of this news appeared in the Raipur edition of the Rajasthan Patrika.

Shirish Khare is based in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, and works as a special correspondent for the Rajasthan Patrika