Rana Punja Bhil:
A dispute has erupted in Rajasthan over the hoisting of a flag on the statue of Rana Punja Bhil, a historical figure considered as a hero by the tribal Bhil community.
- After the Amagarh fort dispute, this is the second issue in Rajasthan within a month.
About Rana Punja Bhil:
- He was a contemporary of 16th century ruler of Mewar, Maharana Pratap.
- He is considered to be a significant character who bolstered the strength of Pratap during his battles with Mughal emperor Akbar.
- When Maharana Pratap was readying for the battle with Akbar, the tribal Bhil community voluntarily came to his assistance and at the time the Bhil army was commanded by Punja.
- Owing to his status as a commander, he was bestowed the title of Rana.
- The Bhil are one of the largest tribal groups, living in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.
- They are the biggest tribe in Rajasthan.
- They are classified as scheduled tribes in Rajasthan.
- The name is derived from the word ‘billu’, which means bow.
- Bhil women wear traditional saris while men are dressed in long frocks and pyjamas. The woman put on heavy ornaments made of silver, brass along with rosaries of beads and silver coins and earrings.
- The Bhil are known to be excellent archers coupled with deep knowledge about their local geography.
- Traditionally, experts in guerrilla warfare, most of them today are farmers and agricultural labourers. They are also skilled sculptors.
- They have exercised significant influence in the Mewar region and throughout the past, the Rajput rulers of the region have forged alliances with the tribal group.