People of Badaga community predominantly live in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu. Post independence, the community was deleted from the ST list for reasons unknown.

Members of the Badaga community in OotyCredit: Supriya Sahu IAS
news Protest Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - 21:05

A group of Badagas, who predominantly live in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu, on Wednesday, January 26, placed a memorandum at the feet of a Mahatma Gandhi statue at Udhagamandalam, to get their community into the Scheduled Tribe (ST) list. The Badagas are an indigenous hill community who constitute the single largest ethnic community in Nilgiris.

According to the Times of India, the Badagas were classified as ‘important primitive tribes’ until the 1931 Census. According to the report, there was no census in 1941 due to the World War and after independence, it is unknown why the name of the community was removed from the ST list. They took up the issue in the 1970s, and they have been fighting to regain their lost status since.

Presently, the Badagas are classified as a backward class by the Tamil Nadu government. The community leaders have been petitioning the governments and higher courts for many years seeking ST status. In 2014, they filed a petition in the Madras High Court, demanding to be included in the list of scheduled tribes.

A petition was placed in front of the Gandhi statue on the 73rd Republic Day on Wednesday. The petition stated more than 150 people from the Badaga community had participated in the Indian freedom struggle along with Mahatma Gandhi, including the famous Salt March to Dandi in Gujarat. A group of Badaga people, led by Baduga Desa Party president Manjai Mohan, sat in hunger strike near the statue "requesting Gandhi to prevail upon the powers that be" to include the community in the ST list.

Former chief ministers of Tamil Nadu had made representations to the Union government for including the community in the list but to no avail so far, Mohan said. Later, police detained Mohan and 14 others for attempting to stage a hunger strike without valid permission.

With inputs from PTI