“Adivasis were never Hindus and they never will be,” Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Sunday said while responding to a question on whether Adivasis were Hindus after delivering a virtual lecture at the 18th Annual India Conference at Harvard University.
“Adivasis were never Hindus and they never will be… where will the Adivasis go, whether he will write Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Muslim, Christian [in the census]… I came to know that these people [central government] have removed the ‘Others’ column. It seems they have to adjust in this only,” CM said.
Soren, also chief of president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, said a separate religion code for Adivasis in the upcoming Census is the need of the hour.
The Jharkhand assembly in November last year had unanimously adopted a resolution demanding a Sarna Tribal Religious Code for tribal people in the Census.
Soren who became the first tribal leader from the country to participate in the conference which is into its 18th edition this year, said: “Adivasis have been demoralised for centuries. Becoming a chief minister was not easy for me and we have experienced the exploitation of right-wing BJP from close quarters. Our MLAs were disqualified from the House over petty issues by the previous BJP government.”
Soren was interacting with a senior fellow from Harvard Kennedy School and award winning author Dr Suraj Yengde.
Soren said that a section of society does not want Adivasis and Dalits to get educated and prosper in their lives.
“If Adivasis become educated and financially sound, who will be driving the cars and working as housemaids in the houses of these big politicians and corporate honchos,” Soren quipped.