Adivasis in Telangana waved black flags and staged protest across the state on the eve of its Formation Day on Saturday.
In places like Indravelli, adivasis raised black flags at the martyrs memorial and also wore black badges, to protest the state government's indifference to their demands.
In several villages, teachers from the Lambada community were not allowed to attend the Telangana Formation Day celebration being hosted in government schools.
The state police, which had beefed up security across Agency areas of Telangana and Adilabad district in particular, also reportedly stopped an attempt to hoist a black flag at the District Collectorate in Adilabad city.
Adivasis across Telangana have erected black flags in their gudems (hamlets), protesting against government indifference in addressing the longstanding conflict between Banjara Lambadas and Adivasis.
With the slogan ‚ÄúMaava Naate Maava Raaj‚ÄĚ (our village, our rule), and to the beat of their traditional drum ‚Äď the thodum ‚Äď the tribal population in the state declared self rule in all Adivasi villages on the night of May 31.
The decision to declare self-rule was taken at a meeting by the Adivasis in Keslapur, Adilabad on May 27.
The agitating Adivasi leaders later met the Chief Secretary of the state on Thursday. However, as talks failed, they went ahead with the strike.
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 last year.
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 them the slogan of "Jal, Jungle, Zameen" (Water, Forest, Land).
The Gonds also claim that the Banjara community is biased against them and their children and also reaping the benefits of having a Scheduled Tribe status without having significant historical contributions.
Since then, the two groups have been on the warpath.