Thousands of indigenous people marched through the streets of Gumla town in India’s Jharkhand State demanding recognition of their traditional religions.
The rally of about 10,000 people on April 24 aimed to put pressure on the eastern state’s government run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which considers indigenous people as Hindus and refuses to give official status to the animist Sarna religions.
Church leaders and acti-vists working for indigenous people said the rally succeeded in bringing together indigenous people of diverse groups and religions.
The government is counting Sarna followers as Hindus as part of a political game, said Father Cyprian Kullu, vicar general of Gumla Diocese, which supported the rally.
“It is certainly a positive move because this was the first time in the region that indigenous people of all religions have come on a single platform and demanded their rights,” Father Kullu told ucanews.com.