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Baiga Tribe. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

August 31, 2016: The entire nation was reborn to freedom and liberty on the historic day of August 15, 1947, as we achieved Independence and established India as a free country. Hardly considering the fact that not the whole nation was able to pursue its freedom and celebrate, we celebrate the day as our Independence day.

Therefore, like every consecutive year, this year too- August 15 was celebrated as the 70th Independence day of the nation but being least bothered with the lesser known fact, that a particular section in our society is differentiated from this celebration and cornered from the society.


About 150 communities known as Vimukt Jati or denotified tribes (DNT’s) were stated as the ‘criminal tribes’ by the British Government under the Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) and they could only mark their Vimukti Diwas (Liberation Day) after waiting for five more years, on August 31, 1952. This happened only when the CTA was repealed across India.

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These communities are now ready to celebrate an additional Independence day in India and August 31, 2016, marks their 65 years of their liberation. Even though these communities are differentiated, today all of them will be standing together. While this can be called the largest gathering as this will be the day of celebration as well as protest. The event took place at the famous site of Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, reported a news portal.

Today these denotified tribes are free from the label of ‘criminal tribes’ but they still have to face the dishonour from the contemporary society. As they hold a history of hereditary criminals from their communities. These denotified tribes include roughly 20 million people that are scattered across the country, but the similar label of ‘Criminal tribes’ stated by the Criminal Tribes Act unites the vast population.

The law was enacted in the year 1871 that labelled these communities as criminals from birth.

The communities were restricted from basic rights and were supervised at every step on a daily basis. They were forced into labour settlements and penal colonies on the Andaman islands. All this disgrace could stop only after their denotification in the year 1952. At this time roughly 3.5 million people fall under the tag of ‘criminal tribes’ communities.

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Even though being free from stated as ‘Criminal tribes,’ these communities still face some or the other discrimination in the society, due to their history and association of some of the tribes in the criminal activities. Therefore, for a handful of people the whole tribe is disgraced and this has become a matter of concern. Apart from that, further, poverty and illiteracy pull them back.

Many of these tribes came together after the law was enacted in 1952. These tribes came to celebrate their ‘Vimukti Diwas’ or liberation day on August 31 by organising small celebration or local affairs.

As the time passed, the tribes gathered in large numbers for their demands to be heard. Though a lot is done in the society to support them, but these turned out to be shallow and volatile attempts which resulted in no conclusion.

These tribal communities are still differentiated in the contemporary Indian society and this year, 2016, marks their 65th Independence day. These tribes only demand liberty and acceptance from people around them.

prepared by Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu of NewsGram with inputs from various sources. Twitter: @jagpreet_ks9

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