The Hattis of Himachal Pradesh, and their demand for ST status
- Political activities for inclusion of the Hatti community in the list of Scheduled Tribes in the state.
- The state government would complete all the formalities required for getting tribal status for the 3 lakh-strong community.
The Hattis are a close-knit community who got their name from their tradition of selling homegrown vegetables, crops, meat and wool etc. at small markets called ‘haat’ in towns.
- A Hatti community men generally don a distinctive white headgear during ceremonies.
- They are cut off from Sirmaur by two rivers called Giri and Tons.
- Tons divides it from the Jaunsar Bawar area of Uttarakhand.
- The Hattis who live in the trans-Giri area and Jaunsar Bawar in Uttarakhand were once part of the royal estate of Sirmaur until Jaunsar Bawar’s separation in 1815.
- The two clans have similar traditions, and inter-marriages are common.
- There is a fairly rigid caste system among the Hattis - the Bhat and Khash are the upper castes, while the Badhois are below them.
- Inter-caste marriages have traditionally remained a strict no-no.
Due to topographical disadvantages, the Hattis living in the Kamrau, Sangrah, and Shilliai areas lag behind in education and employment.
- The Hattis are governed by a traditional council called Khumbli, which like the khaps of Haryana, decide community matters.
- The Khumbli’s power has remained unchallenged despite the establishment of the panchayati raj system.
Hattis demand for tribal status
The community has been making the demand since 1967.
- It started when tribal status was accorded to people living in the Jaunsar Bawar area of Uttarakhand, which shares a border with Sirmaur district.
- Their demand for tribal status gained strength because of resolutions passed at various maha Khumblis over the years.
- The move will benefit a population of about 3 lakh people in 154 panchayats in the trans-Giri area in the state.
The Jaunsar Bawar area has produced a sizable number of civil servants, an achievement that has not been lost on their brethren living in the trans-Giri areas.
- In 2009, the BJP promised to give ST status to the Hattis in its election manifesto.
- The BJP has gained from Hatti support in the parliamentary elections in Shimla, once a Congress stronghold.
- In 2014, Defense minister Rajnath Singh had even announced the grant of Scheduled Tribe status to Hattis.
- The Hatti community is concentrated in the four Assembly constituencies in Sirmaur district - Shillai, Paonta, Renuka, and Pachhad - but they can play a significant role in at least 9 seats spread across Shimla and Sirmaur.
The ethnography report about the Hatti community was inadequate, and sought a full-fledged ethnographic study.
- In March 2022, The HP govt sent a detailed ethnographic proposal to the Union ministry, seeking the inclusion of the Hatti community of the trans-Giri area in the ST list of Himachal Pradesh.
- Hattis of Himachal Pradesh
- Tribal status - methodology