Are Fates of Tricolour Flag and Natives Identical in Jharkhand?

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When we had stepped into the New Year in January 2016, we were informed by our state government that largest Indian national flag on the tallest mast would be hoisted at our Pahari Mandir in heart of our capital city of Ranchi. We were further informed that the robust flag post was 293 feet high and the largest Indian flag weighed about 60 kg with the dimensions of 66 feet by 99 feet. It was supposed to be matter of great pride not only for the BJP led Jharkhand Government but also for the native population at large. All of us eagerly looked forward to it.

According to the local Jharkhandi legends, during the colonial rule the British rulers used venue of Pahari Mandir to hang heroic freedom-fighters of our region; hundreds of brave resistance-fighters were hanged. No wonder, during the pre-independence era, the natives used to call “Pahari Mandir” as “Phansi Tinguri” (it means hill for hanging). At that time, those public hangings were used by the colonial rulers to instil the fear among the common Jharkhandi populace.

Many of our fearless ancestors had waged relentless freedom battles against the British imperialistic rulers and even sacrificed their lives. Their unwavering and united stance yielded few positive results for the local Jharkhandi populace as the British rulers enacted Santal Pargana Tenancy (SPT), Chota Nagpur Tenancy (CNT) Acts, etc. to buy peace with the natives (both Moolvasis and Adivasis). In that colonial era, our valiant freedom fighters had made the supreme sacrifice for the greater good and the welfare of their future generations. We cannot express enough gratitude to them really.

So when the Jharkhand Government declared its intent in January 2016, then it made perfect sense to hoist the largest Indian flag at such a historical place and honour our courageous freedom fighters and their fascinating memories. At that time, our state government had made right kind of noises and claims at that time. When they hoisted the Indian tricolour at Pahari Mandir, we saluted it. It was an emotional moment for us.

Pahari Mandir, Ranchi  Picture Credit: Sony Alpha Community

But with the passage of times, as the months passed by, the fate of the largest Indian flag and the natives (both Moolvasis and Adivasis) became intertwined and identical.

Few months later, the largest Indian flag got stuck at the half-mast, then after few more weeks our respected tricolour was badly torn and finally it had to be taken down. The state government even tried to replace it with a new flag. But its complete mismanagement and the inherent dishonesty did not allow them. I tried but I could not find the largest Indian flag fluttering in the Pahari Mandir. In few days from now, the 2016 is about to end and our largest tricolour flag has disappeared completely, it is nowhere to be seen. No one has any idea about the fate of our esteemed flag.

Pahari Mandir, Ranchi Picture Credit: Indian Express

Likewise, as the time went by, the BJP led Jharkhand Government started showing its true colour, it began by introducing a flawed Domicile policy and then it went ahead to forcibly amend a century old CNT and SPT Acts; much to the chagrin and the annoyance of the native population. No wonder, we have witnessed lots of protests since then. The local people’s anger spilled on the streets of state, thousands were arrested and few of them were shot dead by the repressive state government. And as type this, the fire of protest is only spreading.

One can see lots of parallel between the fate of the vanished flag and the destiny of the native population in our Jharkhand. As the year is about to end, I see lots of anger and disappointment written large over the hapless faces of Jharkhandis. Perhaps, it is the sign of times that we live in; the tall claims by the government of the day are often wrecked by the dishonest implementations at the ground. Many believe that BJP led Jharkhand Government’s intentions are wrong. And yes, in the years to come, if Jharkhandi natives do not fight back this neo-wave of internal colonialisation, then I am afraid that our people will have same fate as our honoured flag in our state.

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Sameer Bhagat

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Social-Activist. Author of SALVAGING ADIDWEEP.


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