Tribal MLA Advocates for Bhil Pradesh After Demands for Vindhya and Bundelkhand States in MP

Push for Bhil Pradesh State Formation Gains Momentum in Madhya Pradesh
Map of Madhya Pradesh
Map of Madhya Pradesh

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh is witnessing a growing demand for the formation of Bhil Pradesh, in addition to the existing calls for Vindhya and Bundelkhand states. Kamleshwar Dodiyar, the sole MLA of the Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP) in the state, is spearheading this campaign. His focus is on garnering support from Bhil tribe-dominated regions in Western Madhya Pradesh. Notably, similar demands for Bhil Pradesh have been made in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Dodiyar, during a special session of the Assembly, emphasized the need for Bhil Pradesh and called on both the state and central governments to consider the proposal seriously. He stated that his priority, given the five-year mandate from the people, is to push for the formation of Bhil Pradesh. Dodiyar aims to address regional issues and basic needs while championing the cause of the new state.

In the Assembly, Dodiyar drew parallels with the formation of smaller states like Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand, citing the rapid development observed in these regions. He highlighted the potential for Bhil Pradesh to contribute to the overall development of tribal societies in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.

The demand for Bhil Pradesh is not a standalone development, as calls for the creation of Vindhya Pradesh and Bundelkhand state have also gained momentum over the years. Narayan Tripathi, a former BJP MLA, formed the Vindhya Janata Party in the Vindhya region, aligning with the agenda of creating Vindhya Pradesh. Simultaneously, demands for the formation of Bundelkhand state have been ongoing for two decades, spanning districts in both Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

The history of the demand for Bhil Pradesh dates back 108 years, originating in Rajasthan and gradually reaching Madhya Pradesh. Tribal MLAs, especially from the Bharat Adivasi Party, are intensifying efforts to gain traction for this demand, particularly in the tribal-dominated areas of Western Madhya Pradesh.

The Bharat Adivasi Party has secured electoral success, winning three seats in Rajasthan and one seat in Madhya Pradesh during the 2023 elections. Their demand for Bhil Pradesh encompasses the inclusion of districts in Gujarat's northeast, southern Rajasthan, and the western part of Madhya Pradesh, covering approximately 20 full districts and parts of 19 others.

In the constitutional framework of India, the authority to reorganize or form states rests with the Centre, as outlined in Article 3. States are typically formed based on recommendations from the States Reorganization Commission of 1955. Ladakh's recent reorganization in 2019 serves as a pertinent example. The demand for new states is historically rooted in various factors, and the ongoing debate over Bhil Pradesh adds another dimension to this complex process.

Demand First Raised in 1913

The Bhil community is demanding a separate state or Pradesh with scheduled tribe privileges. This demand was first raised by Govind Guru, a Bhil social reformer and spiritual leader, after the tragic event of the Mangarh massacre in 1913.

On 17 November 1913, the Mangarh massacre occurred in the hills situated on the border of Rajasthan and Gujarat. British forces ruthlessly killed hundreds of Bhils, an indigenous community. This brutal incident is sometimes referred to as the "Adivasi Jallianwala" in reference to the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919. This proposed state would be formed by carving out 43 districts from four states, namely Gujarat , Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra.

Some of the districts that would be included in Bhil Pradesh are Dungarpur, Banswara, and Pratapgarh in southern Rajasthan; Ratlam, Jhabua, Alirajpur, Dhar, and Petlawad in Madhya Pradesh; Panchmahal Godhra, Dahod, and Dang in Gujarat; and Nashik and Dhule in Maharashtra.

Dr. Jitendra Meena, a Professor at the History Department of Delhi University and founding member of the Bharat Adivasi Party believes that a separate state is a constitutional demand and the only solution for the Adivasi people, particularly the Bhils, who are among the largest tribal populations in India. Meena who hails from South Rajasthan himself, expresses that his people have faced exploitation and harassment at the hands of the non-tribal population for 75 years.

According to the Indian Constitution, Article 244(1) of the 5th Schedule applies to the administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in any state other than the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram. The Bhil community is demanding the creation of a separate state under these provisions, as they believe it would give them greater autonomy and control over their own affairs, as well as provide them with better opportunities for social and economic development.

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