A total bandh was observed in the tribal Agency areas of both the Telugu speaking states on Tuesday against the Supreme Court’s recent verdict quashing the 100% reservation for Scheduled Tribe (ST) teachers in the scheduled areas of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, guaranteed to them under GO 3. The protesting Adivasi groups demanded that the state governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh file a review petition objecting to the apex court’s verdict.
In Andhra Pradesh, the bandh was total in the scheduled areas of East Godavari district, West Godavari, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam. Similarly, in Telangana, buses were stopped from plying in the Adivasi dominated areas in Adilabad, Asifabad, Nirmal, Utnoor, Mancherial, Karimnagar, Khammam, Kothagudem and parts of Nizamabad district.
In Telangana, the bandh was led by Adivasi Hakkula Porata Samithi while the call for the bandh in Andhra Pradesh was given by Girijana Sangham, affiliated to the CPI(M).
Several Adivasi groups protesting the verdict urged the state governments to file a review petition and called for a bandh on Tuesday.
“Today’s bandh was to remind the state government of its responsibility to file a review petition before June 15, the deadline,” Kodapa Nagesh, state secretary of Adivasi Hakkula Porata Samithi, told TNM.
Providing 100% reservation, GO 3 was implemented in 2000 under the united Andhra Pradesh to strengthen education infrastructure in scheduled areas, promote education development and protect interests of tribals, and solve the phenomenon of teacher absenteeism in remote areas.
On April 22, the Supreme Court in its verdict scrapped the 20-year-old government order stating that the absolute reservation was ‘arbitrary’ and ‘unconstitutional.’ The respective state governments could file a review petition if they had any objections. The five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose had said that “the G.O.Ms. No.3/2000 providing for 100% reservation is not permissible under the Constitution.” The court said that the reservation for the STs cannot exceed 50%.
Speaking to TNM, Rama Rao, a member of the Adivasi Sangham JAC, said, “The reason for issuing GO 3 was because there are several tribal languages, and the students will understand only these languages. Hence, we wanted teachers to be recruited only from the ST communities.”
He added, “The honourable court’s observation that 100% reservation is unconstitutional is very objectionable. As per the constitution, non-STs cannot own land in scheduled areas and disturb the Adivasi settlements. Now the SC’s verdict that only 50% of reservation can be availed by STs is contradictory.”
Rama Rao demanded that while issuing notifications both the Telangana and AP governments should give 100% reservation to STs in scheduled areas, or exempt scheduled areas for the time being or stop the notifications completely until the issue is resolved.
Kodapa Nagesh said that the verdict affects STs not only looking for teaching jobs but other jobs too. “There are 29 departments where the jobs are reserved for STs like, forest department, police and revenue. In these 29 departments, recruitments are done only through GO 3 in scheduled areas,” he explained.
Expressing concern that the verdict also affects them politically, Nagesh said, “Denying reservations also has political implications. The honourable SC in its verdict also said that they will also reconsider reservations in politics. If they do so, STs will be denied sarpanch, MPTC, ZPTC, MLA and MP posts,” he said.