PANJIM: The warring factions of Scheduled Tribes (ST) communities are at loggerheads, ignoring the real victims, the two youths who lost their lives during the ST agitation in May 2011.
Both the factions – United Tribals Association Alliance (UTTA) and GAKUVED Federation comprising 14 organisations organised separate programmes at Margao on Thursday apparently to outdo each other and did not show unity to seek their legitimate demand of political reservation.
Environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar, who has done a study of the life of ST communities, said that both the factions were playing political games and trying to show that they are right.
Both factions have totally forgotten the motive for why GAKUVED was formed.
Former Minister and UTTA president Prakash Velip said that whatever the rival faction did was out of vengeance and was playing to the gallery.
“We have been agitating for a long to seek our demand for reservation of seats for ST communities in the Legislative Assembly based on population. ST communities were included in the Central list in 2003 while the 2011 Census was prepared and published later. It is a fact that there has been a delay to give political reservation to us and this issue cannot be solved by trading charges,” said Velip.
Velip claimed that by granting recognition, nearly 7,000-8,000 youth belonging to ST communities have been recruited for government jobs in the State. He denied that the ST leaders have forgotten the sacrifice of the two youths, who died in the Balli agitation, and claimed that the UTTA has built their statues in the village for the younger generation to know their supreme sacrifice and inspire them.
“I am ready to sit across the table for our cause. Let us keep aside our differences and march forward for the betterment of the communities,” he said.
GAKUVED Federation general secretary Rupesh Velip, who is also the general secretary of Mission for Political Reservation for STs in Goa too opined that they have to unite and fight to achieve their objective, which is pending for a long.
However, Velip rued that the UTTA president was reluctant to join them whenever requested. “Why can’t he (Prakash Velip) join our movement where 14 organisations have come together for the single objective of seeking political reservation?” he asked.
Kerkar concluded, “Factions within ST communities is not a good sign for tribal movement in the State and it will jeopardise their effort to gain social and political benefits. Both the factions should realise that two youths Manguesh Gaonkar and Deelip Velip had died for a noble cause and it should not go in vain.”
Kerkar added that the State government should consider the rightful demand of STs for reservations of seats in the Legislative Assembly.