The ongoing tussle between Gond Adivasis and the Banjara Lambadas in Telangana took a violent turn as the two communities clashed at several places in Adilabad district on Friday.
Scores of people were injured, some of them critically, as the two groups attacked each other in tribal areas in Utnoor, about 250 km from Hyderabad.
Police used teargas shells at several places to disperse the clashing mobs, which set several shops and vehicles afire.
Police denied some media reports that two people were killed in the violence. Deputy Inspector General of Police Ravi Verma said nobody was killed in the clashes.
Police clamped prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more persons in agency areas and sent additional forces to violence-hit villages to contain flare-up.
Trouble broke out after a statue of Komaram Bheem, a freedom fighter revered by Gonds, was found garlanded with footwear in Betalaguda in Narnoor block. Adivasis took out a protest rally at Hasnapur, which turned violent. Protestors torched a hospital belonging to former MP Ramesh Rathod.
Tension had been building up in some parts of the state over last few days in the wake of demand by Adivasis to remove Lambadas from the list of Scheduled Tribes.
The violence in Adilabad came a day after Adivasis resorted to violence in Jayashankar Bhupalpally district against the inclusion of Lambadas in the Medaram Temple Trust Board, which organises Medaram Jatra, a tribal fair.
Adivasis alleged that Lambadas had no respect for their traditions and customs and were only trying to make money in the name of the temple.
Earlier this week, about a lakh Banjara Lambadas had gathered in Hyderabad to defend their right to reservation as a Scheduled Tribe in Telangana.
The Gond community is one of adivasis, originally believed to have spread from central India to parts of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. They have a sizable population and a long history of settlement in Telangana. The Gonds primarily speak Dravidian languages.
The Banjara Lambada community is originally from Rajasthan but are now spread across the Indian subcontinent. While they are listed as Backward Class (BC) or Other Backward Class (OBC) in some states, they are listed as Scheduled Caste (SC) or ST in other states.
The Gonds have been pointing out that the Lambadas were included in the ST list only in 1976 in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, and have dubbed it a 'backdoor entry'.
The rivalry came out in the open after an incident of vandalism took place at the tribal museum at Jodeghat in Asifabad district on October 5.
The Lambadas allege that some Gonds damaged the statue of a Lambada woman kept at the museum, claiming that the Lambadas did not participate in the uprising against the last Nizam of Hyderabad led by Komaram Bheem, a Gond, in the 1940s. He died in the battle and is hailed as a Gond hero.
Jodeghat bears significant historical importance for the Gond community. It was the struggle against the then Nizam Osman Ali Khan's police force that gave