New Delhi: The Karnataka government has requested the Centre to include the Siddi community in the list of Scheduled Tribes. Parliament has been informed.

The Siddis, believed to be the descendants of the Bantu people in East Africa, inhabit the Belgaum and Dharwad regions of the state.

Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Sudarshan Bhagat replied in the affirmative when he was asked in Rajya Sabha if the Karnataka government has requested for inclusion of the Siddi community in the Scheduled Tribes list.

Bhagat said the central government has laid down modalities for deciding the claims for inclusion or exclusion of communities in "orders specifying Schedules Castes and Scheduled Tribes lists."

"As per the modalities, only those proposals which have been recommended and justified by the state government/UT administration concerned and concurred with by the Registrar General of India and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes are to be considered and legislation amended," he said.

Siddis are spread across over 100 villages Karnataka, mainly reside in Yellapur, Haliyal, Ankola, Karwar, Manchikeri, Sirsi, Mundgod and Joida taluks of Uttara Kannada, in Khanapur in Belagavi and Kalaghatagi in Dharwad.

Records state that there are at least 60,000 Siddis in Karnataka, Goa, Kerala, Maharashtra and Gujarat. In Karnataka alone, there are an estimated 32,000 Siddis.