Center outreach fails to brand village with Jharkhand tribal icon | Latest India News

The Union government announced earlier this year that it will celebrate Birsa Munda’s birthday on November 15 as the national “Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas”, with this year’s celebrations including Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a tribal conclave in Bhopal and practically inaugurating the Birsa Memorial at the former Ranchi Prison, where the tribal icon breathed his last in British captivity in 1900 at the age of 25.

While Birsa Munda’s legacy gained national significance this year with the tribal influence of the Bharatiya Janata Party, his name is one of the most important in Jharkhand and is often revered with a Bhagwan (God) prefix and several important monuments. such as the airport, stadiums, universities, prisons and roundabouts among others bearing his name.

The Jharkhand, which was dug in Bihar at Birsa Jayanti in 2000, celebrates its statehood day on November 15 each year. On this day, it is an annual ritual for politicians and bureaucrats to travel to Ulihatu, the father village of the tribal icon located about 70 km south of the state capital Ranchi, and at most deep in the hilly and wooded terrain under the Arki block in Khunti district, which was in the news for its Pathalgadi movement in 2017-18.

Despite the depths of the forest, getting to Ulihatu from Khunti district headquarters is easy, thanks to a high-profile visit by Interior Minister Amit Shah in 2017, when he was the national president of the BJP. A 12.5 km double-lane road built before Shah’s visit remains in good condition.

On November 19, this correspondent visited the Birsa complex in Ulihatu. It was just past noon and a few workers were busy painting the iron gates of the huge round platform of the Birsa complex, spread over seven acres and housing a boarding school, a future hospital and a guesthouse.

District administration junior engineer Anil Shrivastava, who was overseeing the renovations, said it was due to the recent wave of rain that they were late.

“Our Baba (Birsa Munda) has become the face of the State. Every year, senior politicians and officials come here. But this is what shows the real situation on the ground. Couldn’t this work have been started 10 days ago and completed before Birsa Jayanti, ”said Gangi Munda, granddaughter of Birsa Munda, pointing to the renovation work carried out by the engineering team. junior.

One of the buildings in the school complex now houses a company of Shahastra Seema Bal (SSB) permanently stationed here as part of the state’s anti-naxal operations. Although the school, from Class I to Class X, became operational in 2008, it has only three permanent teachers compared to the authorized enrollment of 18, said its principal Kartik Singh Munda, who has been stationed here since 2017.

“Until the first lockdown, we received 13 additional temporary teachers who were paid by the hour. We opened this month and a few students in grade 6 and up have returned, ”he said.

The memorial, with its marble floor, houses a small two-room hut. The outer wall of the hut has two marble slabs. One lists Birsa Munda’s family line while the second is named after two former ministers who laid the foundation stone for the memorial in 2003-04.

According to the family tree, Birsa had two siblings, Konta and Kanu Munda. While Birsa was single when he died, there isn’t much documentation available on Konta. Kanu’s grandson, Sukhram Munda, who lives right next to the memorial, is the recognized living member of Birsa’s family. As a token of honor, Sukhram and his family have received economic security from the state government for the past two decades.

In 2007, two sons of Sukhram – Jungle Singh Munda and Kanu Munda – were inducted as peons into the Khunti district administration. While the siblings live in the government quarters in Khunti, their parents Sukhram and Lakhmani Devi live in the house next to the memorial. While their house still has an asbestos roof, the floor is tiled and the inner courtyard covered with cobblestones. The tiles and pavers were laid in 2017 before Shah’s visit, in addition to the connection to running water that draws water from a solar tank.

The renewed focus on Birsa Munda this year on the national stage has brought a symbolic boon for Sukhram at a time of growing identity politics. Sukhram and her sons were flown to New Delhi the day after Birsa Jayanti, the trip being sponsored by the office of Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda, who represents Khunti Lok Sabha constituency. During his three-day trip, Sukhram had the honor of inaugurating the Aadi Mahtosav at Dilli Haat, a visit to the Rashtrapati Bhawan and a thorough check-up at AIIMS.

While Sukhram Munda’s family have something to count in the assistance, most of the villagers in Ulihatu still live in kachha houses and depend on rain-fed agriculture. While the majority of them speak Mundari, they also show a reluctance to interact with a “stranger”.

Shyam Singh Munda, in his early 20s, said he was “tired of talking to the press because it hardly makes any difference”, pointing to the slow development of the village amid big promises made by successive governments.

“I’ve seen it since childhood. Nothing is happening. People visit our village every now and then, but things stay as usual, ”Shyam said in broken Hindi, focusing on organizing the rice straw that was lying on the ground.

On November 15, almost all the machinery of the district was in the village with the Sarkar Aapke Dwar program. The 42-day outreach program for service delivery at the panchayat level was inaugurated by Chief Minister and President of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Hemant Soren.

Khunti District Deputy Commissioner and Magistrate Shashi Ranjan said there had been a delay in providing pucca houses to villagers. “Pucca houses in this village are provided under Shaheed Gram Vikas Yojna and not under Prime Minister Awas Yojna. The villagers were asking for bigger houses. Now all the formalities have been completed. Few of the villagers even received certificates for their rights. All the houses would be finished soon, ”Ranjan said.

According to the 2011 census, Ulihatu has 196 families with a population of 1,126, including 675 men and 451 women with an average sex ratio of 668, well below that of the state at 948.

Ranjan said they were all set to inaugurate the hospital in a fortnight, while declining to provide details of the total cost incurred in the project. “I don’t have the figures … because the funds from the tourism department are also involved,” he added.

Karia Munda, eight-time BJP congresswoman from Khunti and one of the country’s biggest tribal leaders, has expressed her displeasure with the current situation.

“It was in the mid-1990s when the then Chief Minister, Lalu Prasad, visited Ulihatu. Then we should have a Tribal Welfare Commissioner. With his active support, I secured funds worth ??3.5 crore sanctioned for the development of the Birsa Munda memorial and complex circa 1996-97. But the funds have not been released. After Jharkhand was established, we got that money back, and then the development work started, ”said Karia Munda, sitting in her ancestral home in Angira village, on the outskirts of Khunti district headquarters.

Munda stressed that none of the state governments, regardless of the party, has given due importance and urgency to the development of the iconic village.

Sukhram, however, expressed hope that the renewed attention to his grandfather on the national stage could bring changes in the lives of tribes across the state.

“The key, however, is that tribals receive a good education and modern training regardless of their job. Whether it is farming, poultry or any other job, they should receive proper training and be exposed to the best practices in the trade, ”Sukhram said upon returning to Ranchi Airport from New Delhi on Friday. , expressing his joy at his flying experience and the attention he received in the nation’s capital.


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