|Activists burn effigies of Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, minister Khorsing Engti and MP Biren Singh Engti at Rongbong in Karbi Anglong on Friday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Aug. 9: AICC secretary in charge of Assam Avinash Pande will visit trouble-torn Karbi Anglong tomorrow. The move reflects the Congress leadership’s worry over the unrest triggered by statehood demands in Assam.
Pande, who arrived here this evening, met PCC office-bearers at Rajiv Bhawan and then chief minister Tarun Gogoi at his Koinadhara residence in back-to-back meetings.
PCC general secretary Bichitra Choudhury said Pande would undertake an “on-the-spot study” of the situation in Diphu, the district headquarters of Karbi Anglong, where a violent statehood agitation led to widespread destruction of private and public property and the death of a college student in police firing last week.
Pande said tonight that both Gogoi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were looking into the demands and he would also visit the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) in due course.
A party insider said Pande was supposed to arrive on a routine visit to take stock of the damage caused by flood and organisational matters later this month but rescheduled his tour because of the unrest that followed the Telangana announcement.
“Diphu was not there in the original itinerary for this trip. It shows how the leadership is trying to reach out to the agitating groups and get its own feedback. PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita will accompany Pande tomorrow. He (Pande) will also visit Goalpara on Sunday to oversee organisational work. A trip to BTAD cannot be ruled out,” the insider said.
The Congress’s worry stems from the threats of agitation being issued by groups seeking statehoods.
Hours before Pande’s arrival, the Joint Action Committee for Autonomous State, comprising leaders of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts, threatened to stage a “series of democratic agitations” if the Union and state governments did not hold tripartite talks on their demand for a separate state by August 14. The Peoples’ Joint Action Committee for Boroland Movement also issued a similar threat, demanding tripartite talks, as promised by Gogoi, on creation of “Bodoland” by August 13.
Gogoi will visit Delhi on Sunday to discuss the situation in Assam. Various organisations, representing the Karbis, Bodos, Koch-Rajbongshis and the Dimasas, have been threatening to intensify their agitation by imposing road and rail blockades which could cut off the Northeast from the rest of the country.
Speaking to reporters here today, Bidya Singh Teron, spokesperson for the Joint Action Committee for Autonomous State, said it was high time the governments came forward for a permanent solution to the Karbis’ demand.
The committee said the incidents in Karbi Anglong from July 31 to August 4 were the natural outburst of the people’s sentiments, which the government should respect. It demanded an autonomous state under Article 244 (A) of the Constitution.
It also asked the BJP to raise the demand in Parliament as senior leader L.K. Advani had said during his visit to the district on the eve of last Lok Sabha elections that Article 244 (A) was the political right of the people of Karbi Anglong. “But later the party maintained silence,” Lawrence Teron, the committee’s spokesperson, said.
The Peoples’ Joint Action Committee for Boroland Movement (PJACBM) also threatened to intensify its agitation if the government did not hold talks by August 13.
“We have not yet suspended our 100-hour national highway bandh from August 13. We will go ahead with our agitation if the government fails of ensure tripartite talks with leaders of Bodo organisations like the PJACBM, NDFB (Progressive), United Democratic People’s Front and the All Bodo Students’ Union,” the committee’s convener Bhramon Baglari said. “The national highway blockade may be followed by a 1,000-hour economic blockade,” he warned.
Baglari said a separate state was the only hope of the Bodo people since the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) had failed to fulfil their hopes and aspirations.
Several non-Bodo organisations, including the All Tai Ahom Students’ Union, opposed the division of Assam.
The union’s president, Pranjal Rajkonwar, told The Telegraph that they would float a united forum after August 15 to urge the state government to solve the problems of the indigenous communities by strengthening the autonomous or development councils instead of granting statehood. It had taken out a procession opposing the creation of new states yesterday.
The All Assam Students Union pressed for a bicameral legislature in the state so that all communities could find representation in the Upper House. The AASU leaders said many communities did not have any participation in the running of the state and they should be given the chance to do so.