As the voting for the first phase of the Gujarat Assembly election begins on Thursday (December 1) in 89 out of the 182 seats spread across 18 districts of Gujarat, celebrations galore in India’s mini-African village of Jambur in Junagarh district. Why? Because the village will be voting for the first time at a special tribal booth.

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Celebrations galore in Jambur

A video clip shared by news agency ANI showed people of Jambur dressed in traditional attire as they danced joyously for being able to exercise the fundamental right to vote. Some people were also seen enjoying a feast in another clip.

What locals say

Rahman, a senior citizen and a resident of Jambur village, said it is a great pleasure that a special booth has been set up for them.

“It is a matter of great pleasure for us that the Election Commission has decided to make a special booth for us to vote. We have been living in this village for years. But this is happening for the first time which makes us very happy,” he told ANI.

“Our forefathers are from Africa and we came to India many years ago. When the fort was being built in Junagadh, our forefathers came here for work, First, we settled in Ratanpur village and then gradually settled in Jaanwar village. We have got the status of Siddhi tribal community,” Rahman said.

He said that despite their African roots, they follow the Indian and Gujarati traditions.

Abdul Maguj Bhai, who contested as an independent from Talala, said that the local community suffer in the area, adding, “The village is situated in the middle of two rivers. Everyone lives together here. I am contesting elections from here for the third time.”

“We want that we should also go to the assembly. We get rights so that we can do more good work. We are called Africa of India. We are known as Siddhi tribal community. The government keeps on giving help to the tribals, there is no problem in that, but our local community suffers here, we do not get that much of facilities,” he added.     

Siddi community 

Siddis, or Habshis, are a unique tribe that has African ancestry and lives in South Asia. They are mainly found in three Indian states—Gujarat, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. The latest census shows that their population is about 0.25 million.

They are “descendants of East African slaves, sailors, and mercenaries supplied by Arab Muslim traders to Indian royalty and the Portuguese over centuries,” an article shared by Gujarat Tourism on Facebook states.

siddi community

Gujarat elections

Gujarat will vote in two phases on December 1 and 5, while the counting of votes will be done on December 8, parallel to Himachal Pradesh. Over 2 crore voters will cast their ballots Thursday for 788 candidates in 89 assembly constituencies across 19 districts. ANI also reported that as a flagship initiative, special observers are being deployed by Election Commission for accessibility and inclusion in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections.

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The results will decide if the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party remains in power as it has been for 27 years or if Congress or Aam Aadmi Party will form a government.

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