ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Jharkhand’s New Sthaniyata (Local Resident) Policy

The 1932 Khatiyan, Sociocultural Fabric, and Land Rights

The history of “1932 Khatiyan” and the debate about “Who can be a local resident in Jharkhand?” is traced. In answering this question, several terms are used that unfold historical and contemporary development paradigms, in-migration flows and the process of industrialisation, and political economy, employment and electoral politics in Jharkhand. The article also argues that it is problematic to think in terms of binaries, when considering sthaniyata, such as Adivasis versus Dikus, original settlers versus more recent in-migrants, and cities built by industries versus Fifth Schedule Areas and legal safeguards.

The authors are grateful to Joseph Bara for his invaluable comments on the discussions and previous drafts of this article.

The Forest, Environment and Climate Change Department of Jharkhand on its website introduces the state as, “Jharkhand has a unique relation with forests since ancient times. The word ‘Jharkhand’ connotes area of land covered with forests. Therefore, literally as well as symbolically, Jharkhand is associated with forests.”1 The state is rich in natural resources—minerals, forests, waters, flora and fauna, biodiversity, etc. It has 29.76% forest cover, spread over 23,721 sq km; 32 indigenous communities classified as Scheduled Tribes (STs) make up one-fourth (26%) of the state’s population; 13 districts are fully covered and three are partially covered under the Fifth Schedule Areas (FSAs). A third of Jharkhand’s population (31.6%) is urban, nearly half of which is concentrated in four cities—Bokaro, Dhanbad, Jamshedpur, and Ranchi (Census 2011).

The Jharkhand Definition of Local Persons and for Extending the Consequential Social, Cultural and Other Benefits Bill2022 (henceforth the bill) was passed on 11 November 2022, by the coalition government, the Mahagathbandhan, which includes Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Indian National Congress. As per the bill, a person can claim sthaniyata (local residence)2 of Jharkhand, if they can link their ancestry to the “1932 Khatiyan.” Khatiyan is a record of rights, including land rights. Although all states have a specific resident domicile policy that aims to protect certain interests of local populations, most of them are not based on a historical “sense of belonging” in which land is central to the sociocultural fabric of the community, although this could underpin the understandings of “local” for many citizen groups. The new bill empowers gram sabhas to grant sthaniyata for landless non-Khatiyanis as per the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) (PESA) Act, 1996. The bill has been intensely debated by different, yet intersecting socio-demographic categories of Jharkhand (Munda and Bosu Mullick 2003)—the urban and rural, Adivasis, Moolvasis3 and Dikus (in-migrants from different states of India). Social activists, community-based organisations (CBOs), and civil society organisations (CSOs) have expressed their opinions through the media, memoranda and grey literature.

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Updated On : 9th May, 2023
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