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Veerashaiva body demands fresh caste census

Bengaluru: The All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha on Thursday demanded a fresh caste census, describing the one done by the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes “unscientific”.

The decision was announced by Mahasabha president and veteran Congress lawmaker Shamanur Shivashankarappa.

With this, the state’s two dominant communities — Vokkaligas and Lingayats — have publicly taken a stand against the caste census that is due to be submitted to the government this month. Last week, a meeting of Vokkaliga community leaders resolved that the government must “reject” the caste census.

“There is information that the survey has under-represented the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community’s population, which may be shown as less. The report is unscientific with lots of defects. Hence, we demand a fresh survey using technology,” Shivashankarappa said. “If an incomplete report is accepted, then it will cause huge damage (to the community),” he added.

The survey, commissioned by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah during his first term in office, was done at an estimated cost of Rs 170 crore.

The Mahasabha meeting came a day after federations representing Dalits, tribals and other backward classes (OBC) mounted pressure on the government to make public findings of the census.

But the Mahasabha wants a new, Aadhaar-linked survey. “We are not against caste census per se. We are against this eight-year-old report and the government accepting a report that has irregularities. The census was not done properly. Houses were not visited. It was done sitting somewhere,” Shivashankarappa said, adding that a fresh survey can end all suspicions.

To a question on whether the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community would join hands with Vokkaligas for a joint protest, Shivashankarappa said: “We will think about it in the future.”

Thursday’s meeting had Forest, Ecology & Environment Minister Eshwar Khandre (secretary general of the Mahasabha), Congress MLA Vinay Kulkarni, former DGP Shankar Bidari and others.

(Published 09 November 2023, 22:53 IST)

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