Two of India’s Supreme Court judges have passed a groundbreaking judgement recognising India’s tribal people as the nation’s ‘original inhabitants’ and strongly condemning their ‘historic injustice’.
Judges Gyan Sudha Misra and Markandey Katju were hearing an appeal case regarding the stripping, beating and parading naked of a Bhil tribal woman for having had a relationship with a man of ‘higher’ caste. The judges proclaimed that the sentences given to the men involved were too lenient and that the crime was ‘shameful, shocking and outrageous’ and ‘totally unacceptable in modern India.’
The judges praised the tribes of India who ‘have managed to preserve many of their tribal customs despite many oppressions and atrocities from other communities’. They recognised explicitly that the country’s tribal people, or adivasis, are ‘descendants of the original inhabitants of India’, unlike the remaining 92% of the population who are ‘descendants of immigrants’. The official Indian government position has been that all its citizens are ‘indigenous’ not just the adivasis.
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