Tribal bodies on Friday stepped up their demand to “free” the Parasnath hills in Jharkhand's Giridih district from the “clutches” of the Jain community, a day after the Centre stayed all tourism activities at the site.
They warned of a revolt if their demands were not met by the Centre and the state government, and said thousands will assemble at the Parasnath hills on January 10 as a mark of protest. Jains across the country have been demanding the scrapping of a 2019 Jharkhand government notification designating Parasnath hills as a tourist place, fearing this would lead to an influx of tourists who may consume non-vegetarian food and liquor at their holy site.
Even as the Centre stayed the Jharkhand government’s move to promote tourism at the Parasnath hills after protests by Jains, tribals jumped into the fray staking a claim to the land and asking for it to be freed. "There will be a revolt in five states if the government fails to free Marang Buru from the clutches of Jains. "We want the government to take steps based on documentation...The 1956 gazette mentions it as `Marang Buru' (hill deity or supreme source of power)... The Jain community had lost a legal battle for Parasnath in the past,” Working President, International Santhal Council, Naresh Kumar Murmu had claimed on Thursday.
The Santhal tribe, one of the largest Scheduled Tribe community in the country, has a sizeable population in Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Assam and West Bengal and are nature worshippers. "Injustice has been meted out to us... thousands will assemble at Parasnath on January 10. We will under no circumstances allow the Centre to favour Jains. The site is our ‘Marang Buru’ from time immemorial," Lobin Hembram, the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha legislator from Borio in Sahebganj district, told reporters on Friday.
Former BJP MP Salkhan Murmu blamed Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren for the controversy, alleging that despite being an adivasi CM, he was working against their welfare. Salkhan Murmu, who is the chief of the Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan (ASA), warned that if the Centre and the state government fail to resolve the issue and restore sanctity of the place in favour of the tribals, they would take to the streets across India. Meanwhile, JMM chief spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya alleged that the controversy was a pre-planned strategy of the BJP.