Friday, July 22, 2011

Siddis rue neglect, demand ST papers in Ahmedabad

Siddis rue neglect, demand ST papers in Ahmedabad
Published: Monday, Jul 11, 2011, 21:15 IST
By Chaitra Devarhubli | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA

They entertain everyone with African dance that is distinct to their culture but the irony is that their dance and music is all that remains of the Siddis’ African inheritance. A state-level seminar was held at Bhavnagar to celebrate Siddi culture and tradition, and to identify the problems faced by the community. Many poor Siddi families attended the seminar which was organised by Siddigoma Al-Mubarik charitable trust.

The Siddis came or were brought to India from different countries before the 13th century. Then the Nawab of Junagadh brought them as slaves to the Indian subcontinent hundreds of years back.

Most Siddis who are settled in the Indian subcontinent today are descendants of those early immigrants and slaves. Their economic condition continues to deteriorate even as they fight to save their culture, and recover from poverty and low
social status.

Speaking about the community, Dr Mehboob Desai, head of department of history, Bhavnagar University, reminded the audience that one of the famous monuments of Ahmedabad is named after a Siddi slave. “Siddi Saiyed, who built the famous Siddi Saiyed Mosque, was a slave of Badshah Ahmed Shah. Some other Siddis have played important roles in Indian history, one of which was Jamal, the close and faithful friend of Razia Sultan,”
Desai said.

District development officer, Ranjit Sinh, assured the community that its problems will be addressed. He asked them to meet government officials with a structured plan and suggestions for their social and economic uplift.

Dr Rizwan Qadri, professor at Swaminarayan College, Ahmedabad, held a discussion at which people from the community were asked to speak about their problems. Some Siddi community members complained that despite being declared a Scheduled Tribe (ST), they were yet to be
issued ST certificates.

At this, Qadri explained that when Saurashtra was a separate state, the Siddis were considered a tribe and were given certificates indicating this. But after the formation of Gujarat, they had been given no certificates indicating that they were a Scheduled Tribe and, as a result, they were facing problems. Behroze Shroff, an independent filmmaker, screened a documentary on the Siddis.

The Siddigoma Al-Mubarik charitable trust works for the preservation of the tradition and culture of the Siddi community and for their social uplift.

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