Nagpur: When effigies of ‘Ravan’ were being burnt to celebrate Vijayadashmi on September 30, Gond tribals in Gadchiroli and some parts of Chhattisgarh were busy in offering prayers to their ‘great king’.A large number of gram sabhas came together to offer prayers to ‘Ravan’ in Surjagad, Kamalapur, and Korchi of Gadchiroli.“Ravan was a great king of Gond tribals. But the people, who practised Brahmnic culture based on hegemony, vilified the history of Ravan to show themselves as great warriors,” said Mahesh Raut, an activist from Gadchiroli.Tribal organisations and village bodies have petitioned the government to stop the practice of burning Ravan’s effigies, but it is yet to act on their demand, he said.Mr. Raut claimed that 70 village bodies in Surjagad, which has been witnessing a protest against the mining, came together under the leadership of zila parishad member Sainu Gota to offer prayers.Tribal organisations and groups, including Tribal Students’ Organisation, Gond Society of Korchi, Gondwana Gotul Sena, Parakrami Gond Raja Ravan Sangh, Buddhist Society of Korchi, and the Halbi Society organised prayers in Korchi.
There were smiles on the faces of scores of apple growers in Srinagar on Thursday when Governor Satya Pal Malik announced market intervention scheme to buy crop worth ₹8,000 crore directly from the farmers in Kashmir.Muhammad Yousuf Dar, an apple trader who also heads the Baramulla Fruit Growers’ Association, termed it “a welcome move”. “We want the government to ensure that it [scheme] reaches the grass-roots level. This will also help resolve unemployment issue,” said Mr. Dar. He said over 10 crore boxes of apple are exported outside Kashmir annually.Trying timesMuhammad Maqbool, another trader, said the government’s move has “brought cheer for us in these trying times”. “Such interventions should continue,” said Mr. Maqbool.The August 5 decision of the Union government to revoke J&K’s special status resulted in a communication blockade, affecting the traders’ ability to tie up with wholesale buyers outside or line up with transport companies.Kashmir produces 75% of the total apple crop in the country at 20 lakh metric tonnes. “The fruit growers are not sure about prices and sell in distress. Even the grade ‘C’ apple will be bought. It will triple its price. The intervention of ₹8,000 crore will reach out to 60% of total population of J&K,” said Mr. Malik while launching the scheme at the horticulture department in Srinagar.The government’s market intervention, the first of its kind in J&K, will allow the apples produce to be bought from the doorsteps of the orchardists. “Direct payment will be made to their account. Transportation will be the job of the procurer only,” said Mr. Malik.The government has set up mandis for the scheme at Srinagar’s Parimpora, Baramulla’s Sopore, Shopian and Anantnag’s Botengu.In an indirect reference to the amendment to Article 370, the Governor said: “History cannot be reversed. There is sympathy for people of J&K. People should learn the art of seeking and taking [from the Centre]. The whole country belongs to you.”