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Wed. Aug 10th, 2022
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NEW DELHI: As the Centre moves towards granting Scheduled Tribe status to the entire population (Hattee community) of the trans-Giri region of Himachal Pradesh, the Registrar General of India (RGI) has surprisingly approved the state’s proposal after rejecting it thrice in 1995, 2006 and 2017.
However, interesting is the fact that Himachal attempted a sleight of hand in its fresh report to support its demand. It replaced ‘Brahmins’ and ‘Rajputs’ with their local caste names ‘Bhat’ and ‘Khas-Kanet’ as part of the umbrella ‘Hattee’ community. The RGI spotted the tactic employed, and slammed the manoeuvre, but belatedly agreed, in the state’s fourth attempt, with its arguments about the tribal characteristics of the population.
Himachal blamed the RGI for incorrectly subsuming ‘Rajputs’ under ‘Hattee’. It said, ‘Rajputs’ belong to plains (cis-Giri region), while the inhabitants of trans-Giri are ‘Khash-Kanet’. It said, “The RGI has misinterpreted inclusion of Brahmins and Rajputs in the Hattee community.”
An irate Registrar General of India retorted, “The statement that RGI had misinterpreted inclusion of Brahmins and Rajputs in the Hattee community is neither justified nor acceptable. The 2016 study report clearly mentions that Hattee is used for three social groups — Rajput, Brahmin, SCs. This time in 2022 report, the caste names Bhat and Khas-Kanet have been written in place of Brahmin and Rajput. It is to be pointed out that Bhats are traditionally priests and come under Brahmin group. Similarly, Khasa Rajput is one of the section of Khasa caste. Therefore, it is not correct to state that Brahmin and Rajput are not part of the Hattee community.”
But the RGI has agreed to the proposal that trans-Giri region be declared an ST area. Once enacted by Parliament, it would grant tribal status to all residents of the said hill pocket — SCs, OBCs and upper castes.
In its fresh report, Himachal strongly argued that trans-Giri is culturally similar to the adjoining Jaunsar region of Uttarakhand which was given ST status in 1967. Listing “upper status social groups” which are “dominant castes”, the report said ‘Khash-Kanet’, who make up 60% of the population, are agriculturists, and ‘Bhat’ are priests. The report further said that culture and lifestyle of local communities have strong tribal characteristics.
In its assessment, the RGI has noted the traditional prevalence of polyandry in trans-Giri, and the absence of economic specialisation among locals, to draw a common link between trans-Giri and Jaunsar regions across the Himachal-Uttarakhand divide. It has also noted the prevalence of “magico-religious treatment of ailments” in the two regions, which is seen as a tribal characteristic.

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