Marriages are made in heaven! And the two different castes though separate on official records in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have been proving it for years.
The Panika caste had been widely recognized as one of the many tribal communities. People from the community had been staying in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Jharkhand. Ironically, they had been granted different caste status in every state.
But the caste recognition of the Panika community is exceptional when it comes to Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The community had been granted the status of Scheduled Tribe (ST) in 1949 by the Government of India. The Madhya Pradesh government maintained the status when it came into being in 1956.
A Madhya Pradesh government gazette publication in December 1971 derecognised the tribal status of Panika people in the entire Chhattisgarh region (then the state was part of Madhya Pradesh). In eight districts of Madhya Pradesh, Panika community was recognized as ST while in other districts, it was categorized as Other Backward Class (OBC).
When Chhattisgarh came into being in November 2001, the state government continued with the practice of its parent state. The Panika community in Chhattisgarh got the recognition of OBC. Though officially the people of Panika community had two separate castes, the marital relation however kept both the ends united.
"The marriages between the families settled in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh had been going on uninterrupted since 1971," Janakdas Kuldeep, convenor of Panika Jathi Vikas Manch, told Business Standard. Thousands of marriage had been taken place as of now and the practice would continue, he added.
The married life has had no impact of the boo-boo. If a girl comes to Chhattisgarh after marrying, she will have to loss her tribal credential. If a boy from Madhya Pradesh marries a girl from Chhattisgarh, she will get the recognition of a tribal.
"The community has been struggling to rectify the error as the people of Panika community in both the states had similar lifestyle, culture," Kuldeep said. His organization had been fighting for the cause since 1971, but neither the Government of India nor the Chhattisgarh government bothered to note down their grievances.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh had assured the members that he would look into the matter and explore the possibilities of granting ST status to the community in the state. Kuldeep said, no action had been taken on his announcement till now.