Members of various groups take out a rally in Guwahati on Monday in support of their demand for Karbi Anglong state and to protest police brutality on agitators. Picture by UB Photos
New Delhi/Guwahati, Aug. 12: The statehood tremors in Assam were felt here in a flurry of activity as chief minister Tarun Gogoi today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and then home ministry officials with suggestions on tackling the crisis.
Gogoi called on Singh in Parliament and briefed him about the situation arising out of the announcement on Telangana. Singh told him to meet Chidambaram who is standing in as Union home minister for an indisposed Sushil Kumar Shinde.
Within hours, Union home secretary Anil Goswami and joint secretary (Northeast) in the home ministry Shambhu Singh held a meeting with Gogoi for half-an-hour in Assam Bhavan here to take note of the suggestions. The meeting included discussions on the protests by Bodo, Koch-Rajbongshi, Karbi and Dimasa groups for separate states.
Sources said after the meeting with home ministry officials that an immediate announcement of a tripartite meeting with Bodoland groups was not on the anvil though Gogoi could be expected to indicate a tentative road map about the government’s engagement with protesters tomorrow.
Gogoi is scheduled to meet Chidambaram tomorrow to seek the Centre’s cooperation in defusing the tension through political engagement. He had assured Bodo students last week that he would announce dates for tripartite talks before Tuesday.
Goswami told reporters after the meeting, “The chief minister has made some suggestions which we will place before the Union home minister”.
Gogoi made at least five suggestions on the roles the Union and state governments are expected to play relating to the demands in Assam. Some of these relate to political decisions while others are administrative steps expected from the Centre. Officials were tight-lipped about what the suggestions are. “We will not leave the state (alone) in this, nor will the Centre want to go alone into it (tackling of the situation),” a government official said, underlining the caution with which the Centre is treading on Assam’s political tightrope. “We will weigh the pros and cons before any engagement,” he added.
In Guwahati, several organisations, led by the CPI (M-L), staged a protest to demand a separate state, comprising the twin hill districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, and immediate release of 18 activists of the party and the Karbi Students’ Association.
The organisations submitted a memorandum to the Union home minister and the Assam governor J.B. Patnaik through the deputy commissioner of Kamrup (metro) district.
“We want immediate implementation of Article 244 (A) of the Constitution to create an autonomous state for Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao. The autonomous councils in both these districts have completely failed to bring about development. There is shortage of good roads and drinking water in Karbi Anglong but the departments concerned have done nothing to solve the problem. Moreover, people from other districts are getting posted as teachers in our state while the locals have to struggle with unemployment,” said Khorsing Singnar, member of Karbi Anglong Hills Party Committee and secretary of the Kaziranga district committee.
Senior CPI (M-L) leader Jayanta Rongpi demanded immediate release of all party and Karbi Students’ Association activists who were arrested for demanding a separate state. “Only after creation of a separate state will the problems of the locals in Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao be addressed,” he added.
Singnar insisted that the police should stop their atrocities. “They mercilessly hit men and women who were protesting in a peaceful manner in Karbi Anglong. Many of them were injured badly,” he said.
The Aboro (non-Bodo) Suraksha Somittee today submitted a memorandum, opposing any division of Assam, to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh through the circle officers in the four districts of the BTAD. Its members also staged dharnas in front of the circle offices.
The Somittee’s chief secretary Dilwar Islam said they have also demanded that 742 non-Bodo villages should be taken out of the BTAD as directed by Gauhati High Court.