The Parliament on Wednesday passed a Bill to include the Darlong community as an official sub-tribal community of the Kuki ethnic group in Tripura’s list of Scheduled Tribes, reported PTI.

The Darlongs are a small tribal community of around 11,000 people in Tripura. The Darlongs did not get separate Scheduled Tribe certificates despite belonging to the category as they were considered a generic tribal community under the Kuki group. Due to this, they received a Scheduled Tribe certificate as members of the Kuki community, reported The Indian Express.

Members of the Darlong community have been demanding a separate statutory identity since 1995.

Kuki is an umbrella tribal community in Tripura. With the inclusion of the Darlongs, Kuki will now have 18 sub-tribal communities.

The Darlong tribal community was made an official sub-tribe after the Rajya Sabha passed the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill 2022 with a voice vote. The Bill was cleared in the Lok Sabha on March 28, reported PTI.

Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Renuka Saruta welcomed the passage of the Bill, saying it will give the Darlongs a separate identity.

Citing the 2011 Census, Saruta told Parliament that Tripura has a tribal population of 11.6 lakh, which is 31.76% of the state’s population.

The Centre is focusing on educating children belonging to tribal communities and has increased the budget for Eklavya Model schools to meet this goal, she said. Eklavya Model schools are institutions for educating members of tribal communities.

“In 2013-14, the number of Eklavya schools was 167 which has been increased to 689 in 2021-22,” Saruta said, according to IANS. “In these schools, 460 tribal children are studying from class 6 to 12 under the CBSE [Central Board of Secondary Education] course.”

The government will consider the demands from other states to include more communities in the list of Scheduled Tribes, she said.

Congress’s Phulo Devi Netam supported the Bill but said that the Union government made the decision in light of the upcoming Assembly elections in the state.

Trinamool Congress MP Santanu Sen requested all members to support the Bill, saying the community will benefit from the reservation. Sen noted that there are 427 tribal communities in the country, of which 130 are from the North East, reported PTI.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP M Mohamed Abdulla, Biju Janata Dal leader Mamta Mohanta and Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s Lingaiah Yadav were among those who supported the Bill.