The ongoing conflict between Adivasis (Gond community) and Banjara Lambadas has greatly impacted the enrolment of students in government schools.
Admissions have dropped by at least 50% in the Adivasi dominated areas, according to the government.
Demanding decategorisation of the Lambadas from Scheduled Tribes list, the Adivasis had declared self-rule in several Adivasi hamlets across the state on June 1.
Many Adivasi parents have refused to send their children to schools alleging discrimination by Lambada teachers. Cases of students boycotting schools en masse have also been reported.
Banjara Lambadas are a community that settled across the Indian subcontinent, from the state of Rajasthan. They are listed as Scheduled Tribe in Telangana. Adivasis, including the Gond community have been demanding that the state and Central government must remove Lambadas from the Scheduled Tribes (ST) list.
While officials claim that admissions have come down only by 50%, contrary to their claims, a New Indian Express report written by S Raja Reddy, says that Ashram Schools run by the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) witnessed zero admissions for the present academic year.
Ashram schools are exclusively meant for Adivasi students, which fall under the ITDA (agency area).
The report says that despite schools opening on June 1, the attendance of the students Jharipunaguda and Vanvat was just a mere 25%.
Speaking to TNM, Adilabad District Education Officer, Janardhan Reddy said that the admissions were affected particularly in Utnoor mandal. â€śThe ITDA authorities are taking care of it,â€ť he said.
Dismissing the report that the admissions were zero percent, ITDA, project officer, Krishna Aditya, said, â€śThe admissions are going on. Only a few villages have been boycotting schools. So far we have witnessed 50% admissions. We will get a full clarity on the admissions after June 25, once the transfer of teachers are done.â€ť
When asked what measures the government was taking to convince Adivasi parents to send their children to school and sensitise Lambada teachers, the officer said, â€śWe have been engaging them. We will continue to convince them,â€ť he said.
According to local reporters, the situation between the Adivasis and Lambadas have worsened after the Adivasis declared self-rule, as the government did not respond to their demand to remove Lambadas from ST list.
â€śEarlier, the clashes were only between the elders. Now the conflict has become very personal. Hate videos with vulgar messages are being shared on social media, which have deepened the wounds. The Adivasi students are alleging humiliation and discrimination because of their appearance and language by the Lambada teachers. The students themselves are boycotting schools,â€ť a reporter from an English daily who has been covering the conflict extensively said.
District Collector, Divya remained unavailable to comment on the issue.