Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking recognition of the ‘Sarna’ religious code for tribals, a long-standing demand in the tribal-dominated state.

Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren. (ANI)

In his letter, written on September 26 and released by his office on Wednesday, Soren underlined that protecting the traditional religious existence of tribals was a serious concern, and the demand for ‘Tribal/Sarna Religious Code’ is being raised so that the nature-worshipping tribal community can be confident about its identity.

“At present, when the demand for Uniform Civil Code is being raised by some organisations, constructive initiative on demand of the tribal community for Sarna code is absolutely necessary for their protection,” he said.

On November 11, 2021, the Jharkhand Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution for ‘Sarna’ code.

Earlier, Soren had on May 25 written to President Droupadi Murmu to assist the state gain Central approval for its proposal to include the ‘Sarna Code’ as a distinct recognised religious category.

Reiterating the demand before the PM, Soren claimed that the population of tribals in the state has declined to 26 per cent from 38 per cent in the last eight decades. Soren said the declining trend was worrying as it would also affect the development policy for the fifth and sixth schedule areas.

“You are aware there are many such groups in the tribal community that are on the verge of extinction, and if they are not protected on the principle of social justice, their existence along with the language and culture will come to an end,” Soren said in the letter to Modi.

The CM added that tribals had a separate religious column in the 1951 Census but was removed from the list due to unknown reasons later. The JMM leader argued that a separate religious identity would help in ascertaining the actual tribal population and preserve the tribal culture and practices.

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