National

Manjhi Flags Dispossession Of Dalits And Tribals By Shershabadis

"The Shershabadis have come from outside and occupied land which should have been owned by SCs and STs of this area. Those guilty of occupying such land could even be booked under the SC/ST Act", he said.

Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi
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Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Saturday flagged dispossession of Dalits and tribals, in the densely populated, Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region, by members of the Shershabadi community.

Manjhi, who spoke to journalists in Kishanganj, the only district of Bihar where Muslims comprise more than 50 per cent of the total population, said he has sought a report on the same from officials which he would submit before the state legislative assembly.

"The Shershabadis have come from outside and occupied land which should have been owned by SCs and STs of this area. Those guilty of occupying such land could even be booked under the SC/ST Act", he said.

The Shershabadis are an ethnic group, largely Sunni Muslims who speak Bengali and they are said to be spread across Seemanchal besides adjoining districts of West Bengal, Jharkhand and the neighbouring country of Bangladesh.

"Although this problem is rampant, the local administration was not able to furnish official data. Officials concerned have been asked to do the needful and submit a report to us which we would table in the state assembly", Manjhi added.

The septuagenarian, who heads the Hindustani Awam Morcha, and recently quit the ruling 'Mahagathbandhan' to join the BJP-led NDA, was heading a team of the Vidhan Sabha's committee on SC/ST welfare.

Manjhi, who had served as the state's CM for less than a year after Nitish Kumar stepped down in 2014, owning moral responsibility for the JD(U)'s debacle in Lok Sabha polls, also expressed "dissatisfaction" with the overall situation of SC/ST welfare in the state.

To a query on the BJP's allegation that the crime graph has risen in Bihar after it got stripped of power and the Mahagathbandhan, comprising JD(U), RJD, Congress and the Left formed a new government, Manjhi said "It is true that incidence of crime is on the rise. But we also need to take into account the fact that Bihar is a very large state".

A known critic of the state's prohibition policy, Manjhi insisted "the intent may be good but smugglers are able to bring liquor from outside the state" and claimed, "the law, which was originally draconian, has been rationalised to a large extent over the years, largely because of concerns people like me kept flagging".

Replying to another query, Manjhi said "There is a problem with the acronym INDIA (agreed upon by opposition parties at the meeting in Bengaluru). I would not like to comment on it much, though, since many petitions have been filed against the same. Hope Election Commission will step in".

-With PTI Input

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