Neglected castes in Karnataka wail for recognition

Bangalore City State

Different caste groups in Karnataka are fighting for the rights to avail income and caste certificate.

Sheikh Saquib

Vijayan, from Saurashtra caste has applied fifteen times for income and caste certificate in Nada Kacheri. He needs the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) for his children who are studying in Mathas International School. However, he is turned down every time  as the caste he belongs to is not recognised by the Karnataka government.

For a long time now, these unrecognised castes of Karnataka are demanding inclusion in the state list. They want to be treated at par with the other communities in the state.

Historically, Saurashtrians were Gauda Brahmins who belonged to Pancha-Gauda Brahmin community. After their migration to the South, they were called Saurashtra Brahmins. Their ancestors migrated to South India from present-day Gujarat, over a thousand years ago.

The Softcopy spoke to Ms. Rochak, an officer in Nada Kacheri office at Begur. She said, “The Saurashtra caste is not recognised by the Karnataka government. However, they can avail caste and income certificate by applying as Jamkhana caste.”

The caste and income certificates are a proof of the citizen’s residence. They are essential for these communities to avail their rights. They can provide a post in a reserved institution under the State/Central Scheme.

Saurashtrians are not the only caste which face difficulty in getting the income and caste certificates. Other castes, like the Beda Jangam, also face this issue.

Activist Gourish Hiremath, belongs to the Beda Jangam caste and started a petition in for his caste to be recognized by the Karnataka government, said, “The tehsildars of Karnataka are not issuing the Beda Jangam scheduled caste certificate.  It has failed to protect the constitutional rights of the Beda Jangam people.”

He elaborates on the effect of non-issuance of the caste certificates and how it has affected the Beda Jangam community. “The tehsildars commit offences like fraud, destruction of supporting documents and blocking complaints against the Beda Jangam community.”

According to the District wise Schedule Caste Population survey, Beda Jangam has a total population of 1,17,164 out of which 59372 are male and 57792 female.

Advocate Tahir offered a legal perspective to the situation. He said, “Representatives from the castes should go to the Social Welfare Department (SWD) and Backward Class Welfare Department (BCWD). They should be filing in the High court and the courts should decide. These castes are registered in other southern states so it will be easy for them.”