The Gawada, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar Federation has strongly opposed the inclusion of Banjaras in the list of Schedule Tribes or Scheduled Caste communities and threatened to launch an agitation against the government throughout the state if any attempt was made in this regard.
The federation condemned the statement made by the Calangute MLA Michael Lobo, giving assurance on conferring Schedule Tribe (ST) status to Banjara community. The federation said that Dhangars, who are sons of the soil, were still struggling for ST status. It demanded inclusion of Dhangar community in the Scheduled Tribe category immediately.
Addressing media persons on Wednesday, the federation general secretary Rupesh Velip said that Goans in the ST list were still struggling to derive benefits under the government schemes and the Calangute MLA, who is the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, was going round promising rights to migrants over ethnic Goans.
The federation officials said the status was conferred on them only after conducting detail studies by the authorities on their lifestyle, history, culture, tradition and socio-economic status besides food habits adding it is not legally possible to confer ST status on the Banjaras.
The deputy Speaker is trying to fool the Banjaras hailing from Rajasthan, Karnataka and other states by making an immature statement, the officials of the federation said adding that such statements do not suit his post and that he should withdraw them at the earliest.
They accused the government of allowing Banjaras to put up hutments and providing them voter ID cards and legalising their houses. They said that the houses of Dhangar families in Sattari taluka were being demolished and the families living on Mopa plateau were being evicted to facilitate construction of the airport without proper rehabilitation arrangements.
Alleging vote-bank politics, the federation officials said that the migrants were not only enjoying state government schemes, but also were being given jobs in government departments, loans for self employment, construction of their dwellings while ethnic Goans are being deprived of the facilities.